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Friday, April 29, 2005

 
Reviews, Reviews, Reviews -- As April is winding down, I note that Comic Book Galaxy has posted one hell of a lot of reviews this month. If you haven't been keeping up, take a look. A lot of good comics came out this month, and I'd hate to think any got past you.

Also, less than 24 hours remain for you to register for the James Kochalka Super-F*cking Contest, so, go and enter. And while you're feeling all lucky and entery, register for the Project Superior Contest, too!

Thursday, April 28, 2005

 
The Whys and Wherefores -- Over at The Great Curve, there's an excellent essay on comics collecting, and I'm proud to say it's by The Galaxy's own Marc Sobel. Go check it out.

Monday, April 25, 2005

 
Thanks -- Just wanted to say "thank you" to whoever it was that nominated both me and Chris Allen for best reviewer in this year's Squiddies voting. I'm sure I speak for Chris, too, when I say thanks for noticing our efforts here.

 
The Monday Briefing -- We've got a ton of new reviews today at Comic Book Galaxy, including Ed The Happy Clown #1, 24 Hour Comics, Tiempos Finales (End Times), Wingnut and Fidget, Filler,
Hulk Visionaries: Peter David Vol. 1, and Black Panther Vol. 1; plus Marc Sobel's Crack Shots has reviews of Ordinary Victories, Lore #1-5, Hoax #1, Sin City: That Yellow Bastard and Found Magazine #1. Also today, register to win in our new Project Superior Contest courtesy of AdHouse Books, and remember that this is the final week to enter the Super-F*cking Contest courtesy of James Kochalka, Top Shelf Productions and Comic Book Galaxy!


Sunday, April 24, 2005

 
Happy Happy Happy -- I missed it by one day, but a belated and quite sincere Happy Third Anniversary to Christopher Butcher. There's a handful of people whose tastes I have learned to trust implicitly, and even fewer who can write their asses off, and Christopher is firmly in both camps. I'd rather read his thoughts about most comics than the comics themselves. Do yourself a favour and bookmark Comics.212.net and see if you don't agree.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

 
The Final Promethea HC -- Artist JH Williams III has posted to the Barbelith message board some interesting information about the final Promethea hardcover, as well as the chances of an Absolute Promethea edition. Anyone interested in Promethea, one of the best comics ever created, might want to take a look.

 
One Week Warning -- If you haven't entered your name and address in Comic Book Galaxy's Super-F*cking Contest yet, you have just about a week left to do so. It's your chance to win comics, original art and more by James Kochalka, courtesy of James himself, Top Shelf Productions and Comic Book Galaxy. Enter today!

Friday, April 22, 2005

 
New Reviews and More -- Today in Staring at Previews, I look at items from the May Previews catalog, arriving in comics shops in July, 2005. Also today, my reviews are up of Angry Youth Comics #8 and Flight Vol. 1-2.

Afternoon Update: Title Bout genius Abhay Khosla has responded to my Flight review here. From that point, you can follow the thread through the links at the bottom of his post.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

 
Letter of the Week -- A longtime Galaxy reader named Eric dropped me a line this morning, to let me know he never received a prize he had won in a contest we ran many, many moons ago. One of the contest sponsors went out of business sometime after we announced the competition, so I have to assume Eric's book fell between the cracks. I was glad to hear from him and have the opportunity to make it right -- and Top Shelf publisher Chris Staros quickly came through and offered up a replacement copy of the book in question, the sublimely wondrous novel Voice of the Fire by Alan Moore. Upon hearing a copy was on its way to Eric, he wrote me to say:

Alan,

Your quick response and ability to find a resolution is much appreciated and
very professional indeed. I shouldn’t be surprised – your obvious love for
the medium is more than mere fanboy enthusiasm, which is obvious by your
writing. Thanks for jumping on this so quickly.

Of course, any money I would have saved by getting this (long-awaited) Moore
book for free has been countered by a grave error I just made. I just
finished reading your review of Palomar...and I will no doubt be out $40 before the week is over thanks to it!

I wish more people would write accessible, intelligent reviews of comic work
such as this rather that focusing their energies on the latest issue of
Batman or The Avengers.

Anyway, thanks again,

Eric


Thanks, Eric, for the nice note. It's a timely reminder that sometimes, sometimes, all this effort might just be worthwhile.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

 
The Long Tuesday -- Today was long and exhausting; started it off with a doctor's appointment, in which I was asked to fill out some paperwork and wait. While I was waiting, they neglected to write me on the appointment sheet, so an hour or so went by, and three waitings room cycles later it occured to me that maybe they had forgotten me. They were very apologetic and got me right in at that point, so I can't complain, but given how sore I was, hanging around that waiting room all that extra, unnecessary time started the day off on the wrong note.

I got the last Chuckling Whatsit issue of Zero Zero in the mail today from Mike Sterling at Ralph's Comic Corner today. Nice to have a complete set, since the TPB of Whatsit seems terminally out of print, and Richard Sala has become one of my favourite cartoonists. Anyway, thanks, Mike, for finding the issue and getting it to me so quickly and in great condition.

I was re-reading Marvel's Best of Wolverine hardcover today, and while I flipped quickly past the duller-than-dishwater Mark Gruenwald/Mike Zeck Wolvie/Captain America team-up, I was amused to note that at the end of the story, Cap tells Wolverine that with his tactics, he better stay in the X-Men, because The Avengers would never have him as a member.

Ha!

 
A Win-Win Call for a Little Help -- Dorian at Post-Modern Barney makes a timely request for a little extra purchasing at your local comics shop this week, as a confluence of events conspires to make money tight for most comics dealers: Having to pay for their Free Comic Book Day books (that's right, they're not free for the dealers, and the smart ones order a lot of 'em), the end of the tax year, and a heavy load of Marvels and DCs this week all mean now would be a good time for you to spend just a little extra at the shop: Why not pick up that TPB or HC you've been sitting on the fence over? Or try a batch of new titles you've heard are good but haven't taken the plunge on yet.

Here's what I recommend you spend a little extra dough on this week:

BLUESMAN Book One (Absence of Ink)
Project Superior (AdHouse Books)
Or Else #1-2 (Drawn and Quarterly)
Process Recess: The Art of James Jean (AdHouse Books)
Outlaws, Rebels, Freethinkers and Pirates (Fantagraphics Books)
Strangehaven Volumes 1 and 2 (Abiogenesis Press)
Street Angel #1-5 (Slave Labor Graphics)
Bipolar #1-5 (Alternative Comics)
American Elf (Top Shelf)
From Hell (Top Shelf)
Diary of a Mosquito Abatement Man (La Mano)

Those should all be in stock or easily ordered through any good comics shop (and you could offer to prepay in full if you have to special order, to give the maximum benefit to your dealer now). If you're still unsure, most of them have been reviewed here at Comic Book Galaxy, so do a little research, write up your list of likely purchases, and go do some good at your local comics shop. You'll come away with some great reading material, and your shop will be a little stronger as they get set to celebrate Free Comic Book Day. Everybody wins!

Sunday, April 17, 2005

 
The Rise and Fall of My Red Car
By Alan David Doane
16 April 2005

---

July, 1999.

The car salesman looked at my credit history and other information, and came up with a financing figure; we went out into the lot, and he said I could have any one of a row of cars indicated by the sweep of his arm.

I picked the red one. Because it was red.

---

For the three years previous, I had driven the radio station van. It was the sweetest transportation deal I'd had since my days in mom's stroller. The station needed me for certain hours of the day, hours my wife needed our single car. The station, really needing my services, offered up the use of one of the station's vans 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Yes, 365 days a year. I think maybe once in those three years, they may have asked to use it for a remote broadcast one day while I was on a week's vacation, but it was promptly returned, and for all the world, it was as if it were my vehicle. If it needed an oil change, I took it to the dealer and they did it for free. If the muffler fell off, it was repaired for free. It was a sweet goddamned deal. You believe me now, right?

Well, the time came when I got a much better offer than that job -- but the job was in Albany, an hour south of my then-job, and also my family's apartment. But of course, working at a different radio station, I certainly wasn't going to get to keep the van. So I bit the bullet, went to the car dealership, and that was how I ended up with my red car.

---

"It's zippy," artist Barry Windsor-Smith told me, as he settled into the passenger seat. It was now five months since I acquired my red car, and it was, in fact, the next to last day of 1999. I was in Kingston, New York to interview Barry, and we were driving to get something to eat. He called my car zippy. I thought that was pretty neat.

---

"It's shiny," said James Kochalka, musician, cartoonist and superstar. It's August of 2000, and I've driven to Burlington, Vermont to interview James, either for my old comics website, or perhaps the new one I was thinking of starting up. We're on our way to a pizza shop, where he will burst into a verse of "Even the Clouds Get High" to the amusement of the assembled patrons and workers.

It's nice to know that a year after purchase, it's still shiny. I like my car.

---

In 2001 I get another job, as radio consolidation makes it clear my now 2-year-old job is about to evaporate. The new one pays more. It's unfortunate that so much of this extra money is going to pay for the two cars my wife and I have, including about $35.00 a week in gas for me alone. But I like my job, and I still like my car, and it's still somewhat shiny.

---

Early on the morning of September 12th, 2001, I dream that a terrorist attack has left Albany without power and I am driving down Central Avenue into the blacked-out city, terrified of what it might hold. Something eerily similar happens a couple of years later, when a massive power blackout kills all power on the east coast. I remember my dream. In the dream I am driving my red car.

---

In early April of this year, my wife and I learn we only have three payments to go, and the little red car I picked out of the lot back in the Summer of 1999 will be all ours, free and clear, in just three short months.

---

During the second week of April of 2005, I am driving my children home from school. Every day for the past five and three-quarter years or so, the red car has pulled up to the curb and brought them home. On this particular day, my daughter is talking about the school's anti-drunk-driving program, and notes that if she never drinks and drives, she'll never be in a car accident.

I share with my children one of the few things I've learned in my 39 years on this planet: "You can drive completely safe and never drink and never do anything wrong, you can obey every rule of the road and still, all it takes is one idiot coming out of nowhere to wreck your car and very possibly kill you. So be as careful as you can when you drive (neither of them will for at least another five years, I mentally note), but remember that you are only 50 percent of the equation of any car accidents you might get into."

---

Three days ago, the entire family was in the car. I am mentally reflecting on the past six years, and how the car may soon be ours, free and clear. I look at my wife in the passenger seat, and say "You know, that seat you're in is probably the only car seat ever sat in by both Barry Windsor-Smith and James Kochalka." She smiles. She's heard this before. I'm just so proud. I like my car, and in a very real way, I love both Barry and James. Their work means the world to me, and they both have been kind and generous to me, to whatever minor efforts I've made on my little website -- they're great people, and they both sat in my car, and I think that's kind of neat. My wife smiles. She's heard this before.

---

Today I was thinking about driving my red car to Syracuse. I went so far as to write down directions to the biggest comics shop there. But the morning wears on, and I decide maybe I will go tomorrow. Instead, Marshall comes over and we watch Spaced, and we laugh some. My wife is having a bad day, trouble with her family. I am not sensitive enough to her problems today, and there's some tension. I decide to leave the house to get away from it, and I drive Marshall home. Marshall sits in the same passenger seat that has hosted Barry Windsor-Smith, my wife, James Kochalka, my son, my daughter, my buddy Mick, who else has sat in that seat? A lot of people I care about. I know it's not normal to think about it this much, but I do.

I drop Marshall off at his house, and I decide to go to the record store. Maybe there's a DVD I can buy that we can all watch tonight; Saturday and Sunday are the only days my entire family gets to be together. Maybe I'll buy a movie. My cell phone, as always, is clipped to the sun visor over my head.

On the road in front of me, I note that traffic has come to a stop. I brake, and come to a stop behind a black car. I look up into the rear view mirror. There's a car coming up behind me, and it's coming up fast.

---

The crash seems to take many long seconds. Time seems to slow down, but only a bit. As I am slammed in to, I note my car start to skew to the left. I note that I am lifting up into the air. I wonder in no uncertain terms if my body is going to be scrunched into positions that are going to make the rest of my life difficult. I wonder...and for a split-second, I think nothing at all.

---

My car is positioned wrong. My arm hurts. There's been a crash. What happened?

---

I get out. I am in shock. I go to the car of the woman that slammed into my red car. She gets out. She is okay. She asks if I am okay. I tell her I think I am. I ask if she has a cell phone. She does not. I go to my car to get mine. It's not there. I look again. It's on the floor on the driver's side. The impact must have dislodged it. There's a dog in the car of the woman that hit my red car.

---

My car was pushed into the black car. It has minor damage, a woman was driving it; she's okay. We both have called 911. Sirens are blaring in the distance.

---

My phone rings. It's my wife. "I can't talk now, honey. I've been in a car crash." I tell her I am okay and where I am. She says she's coming. I hang up. Paramedics are here, asking questions. No one is hurt. My neck is a bit stiff, and there's a bump and a bruise on my arm -- I think it hit the steering wheel -- but no one needs to go to the hospital.

---

My family arrives. The woman who hit my red car seems dazed. She asks my wife and kids if they're all right, thinking they were in the car. She says she's sorry, she feels so guilty, she only glanced away for a second. "A second is all it takes," I say, and I mean to be kind. I am not angry at her. After we give statements to the police and a paramedic takes my vitals (as the only person with any sort of injury), I hear a firefighter at the scene talking to the woman who hit my car. He's asking her if she wants them to call her a cab. I walk up and offer her a ride home. She is visibly moved by the offer, but says she's caused me enough pain. I tell her I'm not seriously hurt, and we'd be happy to give her -- and her dog, I forgot about the dog -- a ride home.

We pack the dog into the back of my wife's wagon, and the woman gets in the back seat with my kids. I sit in my wife's passenger seat. My wife drives. We take the woman home, and she tells us that she is alone, her children are away on vacation. I make her promise to call them, because she seems very upset ("I feel so guilty," she keeps saying), and I am a little worried for her in the state she seems to be in.

I tell her to call me if there's no one else to talk to, and if she is feeling upset. She hugs me, she hugs my kids, she hugs my wife, this woman who killed my red car. As we drive away, I can't remember the last time I felt so sorry for another human being. She seems so alone and vulnerable. I hope she'll keep her promise and call her children.

As my wife pulls back out onto the road from the woman's driveway and points us toward home, I breathe deeply and reflect on the passenger seat I am sitting in, the passenger seat of my wife's car. No one famous has sat here. I look at my wife and say "Damn, I am going to miss that car." She smiles. It would have been six years in July, that I had that car.

I picked it because it was red, and for no other reason at all.

---

The End

---

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Sunday Sketching -- Spent the weekend writing and editing a boatload of reviews, and breaking in a new ream of laser paper I picked up at Staples Friday afternoon. Here's a page of faces I drew throughout the day today.

Other than that, it's been a fairly traumatic weekend, but I don't really know yet how to address what happened yesterday here on the blog. One of those life-changing events that leaves you kind of lost and numb, and in my case, with some aches and pains to boot. I'll probably go into this a bit more in the next couple of days, but right now I am still trying to come to grips with what has happened.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

 
The Wisdom of Dirk Deppey -- I don't know how I missed this Dirk Deppey post at The Great Curve, but it's a brilliant summation of the state of the industry, and a great set of principles upon which to build a successful comics shop (and industry). Here's what Dirk has to say:

1) Don't expect salvation to come from Marvel. As the recent past demonstrates, structural limitations prevent the company from taking advantage of the position it holds.

2) Unless the editorial departments are restructured in a fairly fundamental way, don't expect salvation from DC either. DC is a collection of corporate fiefdoms, each frequently working at cross-purposes to one another in an effort to protect turf. Unlike Marvel, DC isn't hopeless and CAN be reformed -- but is far too dysfunctional to do any real good at present.

3) 70% of the Direct Market is a hermit-like one-genre network, and thus might as well be selling leeches so far as the general public is concerned. This isn't a slam on superheroes -- if they sold nothing but poetry chapbooks or radioplays on audiotape, they'd be just as useless. For any number of reasons, money poured into attempts to build this segment of the market might as well be set on fire. Innovation must come from elsewhere.

4) The above point aside, that still leaves 30% of the Direct Market in play. The store owners who comprise THIS segment of the market would do well to get to know one another better. (May I suggest a trade association? Have Seth or James Kochalka design your literature, for no other reason than that it'll keep the proprietor of Bob's Hero Hut away from your doorstep, thus conserving resources for those for whom resources will do some good.)

5) Change is ALREADY coming, and the basic building blocks have been in place for several years now. The major indy publishers already draw significant portions from their income from the bookstore trade, and have been around long enough now to learn to deal with such things as returns. It can be done, and there's really no alternative to doing so at present. Get used to it.

6) Likewise, publishers aimed at the youth market had better get used to surfing alongside manga, and learning from their present and future competition. Mike Gold's barely concealed wish for the manga "cycle" to end is whistling past the graveyard in almost humorous fashion; it also demonstrates a total ignorance of the enormous sea-change that manga represents. If your sole goal is to create a gateway to the same old superhero comics you want everyone to read, you don't get it -- and likely never will. The One True Genre is just another form of Stalinism. If this notion offends you, you're a dinosaur in need of a tarpit. Die, already.

7) If the industry cannot figure out how to appeal to women and children, it DESERVES to die.

Some of the truest words on the comics industry that I have ever read. Dirk's understanding of the industry is put to good use every six weeks or so in the pages of The Comics Journal, the magazine for which he is the managing editor.

In other news, two great pieces up today at Comic Book Galaxy. Chris Allen revives Breakdowns with a jam-packed column full of reviews, and a biting look at DC's spectacular failure to make the 2000AD and Humanoids lines viable. Also today, The Galaxy's Mick Martin looks at Peter David's first last issue of The Incredible Hulk. Go read.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

 
Three Simple Steps to Enjoying Comics -- Logan Polk has learned his lessons well: Here are his Three Ways to Enjoy Comics. Flout them at your peril.

Monday, April 11, 2005

 
The Monday Briefing -- New today in the Galaxy's review section is a review of Kevin Huizenga's Or Else #2 written by Jog of Jog: The Blog fame. It's a very well-written critique of one of the best comics so far this year. Kevin Huizenga is just a fascinating talent with an eye for character and a tendency to take his strips into extremely unexpected places. Check out the review and tell your retailer you want Or Else #2.

Still working on the new website I mentioned yesterday; the template was finalized yesterday afternoon and I got started building all the pages. I should be able to tell you more about this project within a few days.

The Super-F*cking Contest is still underway, with your chance to win original art, comics, a hardcover American Elf collection and more, courtesy of James Kochalka, Top Shelf Productions and Comic Book Galaxy. If you haven't entered yet, get to it!

As I was reading James Kochalka's daily comic strip this morning (and yes, he's back after a disastrous server crash) I remembered a dream I had last night that involved a meeting I arranged between James Kochalka and The Shield's Michael Chiklis. In the dream, I was trying to convince Chiklis to use a Kochalka song (you know he's a singer, too? Has his own band?) in an episode of The Shield. Yes, it's weird, but look at the lengths my unconscious went to to justify this: Kochalka's catchy, kid-appealing songs like Monkey vs. Robot and Hockey Monkey were used in my argument, the idea being that Chiklis's character's austic children would somehow be reached in new ways by Kochalka's unusual, dynamic songs. I don't know how long this dream went on for, but it was quite a while, until Kochalka and Chiklis wandered off together and I was left stranded in one of Farmington's crime-ridden alleys, wondering where it had all gone wrong.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

 
The Sunday That Wasn't -- Man, this day went by quickly. About the only comics reading I got done was some Zero Zero issues from about ten years ago...anyone out there have, or know where I can get, Zero Zero #18? I need a few later issues, too, but that one has the final chapter of one of the serials that I really like, and I haven't been able to find the damned thing anywhere.

Spent much of the weekend working on a new website for one of my best comics internet friends, a site devoted to promoting one of the best comics of the year (and one of the best in years). If you're Christopher Butcher, you can probably guess what this is, but if you're anyone else (and chances are, you are), you'll see it soon. It's gonna be a fun and informative site, hopefully that will allow you easy access to some great comics by some very, very talented creators.

And now dinner is done and I am going to go eat. Coming tomorrow: At least one spectacular review of one excellent funnybook. Oh, and if you haven't yet, go register for the Super-F*cking Contest, so you have a shot at winning comics, original art and more from James Kochalka, Top Shelf Productions and your pals here at Comic Book Galaxy!

Friday, April 08, 2005

 
Late Home -- We left for Albany about 3:30 this afternoon, me intent on picking up the new Comics Journal at Earthworld; the great thing about the Journal, and this has always been true but never moreso than under the stewardship of former Managing Editor Milo George and his successor Dirk Deppey, the thing is just so frigging packed with great articles and interviews and reviews that one issue keeps me busy for at least three days. There's just so much to absorb. Can't wait to dig into it, probably in the morning.

Right now my kids are off to bed and my wife, who worked a double late last night and early this morning, has gone to bed. I am wired from our Albany trip, so, here I am.

What else did I get at the shop? Hmm. Picked up the first issue of Sea of Red out of loyalty to Revolver creator Salgood Sam. I confess I am not blown away by the vampire pirate premise, but Sam did a lot of the heavy lifting on the art from the looks of things, and Revolver was one of the nicest looking books of '04, so, I am looking forward to seeing how it turned out and whether the premise will win me over.

What the hell else did I get...oh, I guess Walking Dead and Zatanna are the books, after TCJ, that I am most looking forward to reading. Meant to look for the new Stray Bullets tenth anniversary TPB, but forgot. And now I can't find a website for El Capitan, Stray Bullets or David Lapham. Anyone know where they're hiding online, if anywhere?

Bought the new Moby CD at Target tonight -- actually, my wife bought it for me, thank you, honey -- and it includes a bonus disc of ambient stuff, which I am listening to as I type away here. I love most of Moby's instrumental stuff, and this disc seems like some of the best he's done in a while. There are some standout tracks on the Hotel disc proper, too, including "Beautiful," and the somewhat heartbreaking "Love Should."

All right, fatigue is setting in, and I think I'm gonna be the last Doane to stumble off to bed tonight. My daughter wants me to take her to some Japanese culture thing at her school in the morning, so, looks like a busy weekend right off the bat. Hope you enjoy yours, and I'll see you back here when I can.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

 
The Three French Hens Meme -- Nicked from the (trave)log of the asian sensation, a blog I landed on by hitting "next blog," something I never do.

TEN random things about me:

10. I hardly sleep at all, and even when I do get to sleep, it's not very deep.
9. I used to have an earring in my left ear. My (male) boss at the time told me "That doesn't do a thing for you," and I told him "I'd be worried if you thought it did."
8. I crashed my car the very first time I got drunk, age 19, depressed about a girl.
7. I have a keen sense of smell and hate being asked to "Smell this."
6. I spent years going to a private Baptist school in the Deep South.
5. I once interviewed Mike Farrell from M*A*S*H. He didn't want to talk about AfterM*A*S*H, then still on the air, because "Some of my friends are on it."
4. I once took a vacation with a girl who had broken up with me a few weeks earlier. It didn't go well, especially that last night in the hotel room...
3. I fucking hate spiders, centipedes, or pretty much anything with more legs than me that won't let me pet it on the head.
2. I read an issue of The Incredible Hulk while waiting to see the doctor the day I found out I have diabetes, back in 1998.
1. I have a mole behind my left ear. Almost lost it once during a haircut, so now I always mention it when someone new is cutting my hair.

NINE places I've visited:

9. Toronto/Oshawa (awesome house-stay at Jason and Kris Marcy's place, fantastic trip to The Beguiling)
8. Ohio (Doane family reunion when I was around 8, 9 years old)
7. Burlington, Vermont (a couple of times to interview James Kochalka or see him sing)
6. Boston (kids loved the Aquarium, I love Million Year Picnic across the river)
5. Northampton, Mass. (Maybe the coolest town I've ever been in)
4. White Plains, NY (weird comicon in 2000, huge stars of the industry, hardly anybody there to see 'em)
3. New York City (when I was about 6; all I remember are taxis everywhere)
2. Montreal (not speaking French was a bit of a problem; couldn't find even one comics shop. Pathetic, not-well-planned spontaneous visit)
1. Nova Scotia (I think I was 2; don't remember it at all, but, running out of places)

EIGHT things I want to achieve in life:

8. See my kids grow up happy
7. Move to Canada
6. Draw better
5. Write better
4. Be kinder
3. Write a book
2. Make my wife happy
1. Be a loyal friend

SEVEN ways to win my heart:

7. Turn me on to something new and exciting.
6. Surprise me.
5. Say something nice about my kids.
4. Buy me flowers.
3. Capture my imagination.
2. Tell me something I didn't know.
1. Swear in new and interesting ways.

SIX things I believe:

6. Society has a duty to take care of all its weakest before any of its strongest.
5. If you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.
4. Those you cannot teach to fly, teach to fall faster.
3. No one is looking out for you better than you can for yourself.
2. Question authority. Then punch it in the fucking teeth.
1. The Daily Show is the last news broadcast in America.

FIVE things I'm afraid of:

5. My kids getting hurt.
4. Extremist leaders that are both informed by and feed off hatred and ignorance.
3. Pain
2. Losing my teeth
1. Being alone.

FOUR of my favorite things:

4. Pizza.
3. The Daily Show.
2. Great comics.
1. Message board posts by Abhay Khosla.

THREE things I do everyday:

3. Drink Diet Mountain Dew.
2. Shower.
1. Read comics blogs.

TWO things I'm not trying to do right now:

2. Sleep.
1. Write a review.

ONE person I want to see right now:

1. Anybody that owes me money and wants to pay up.

Let's pass this along to Graeme, because he never does memes, Jog, because he rocks, and Sean, because A) He's BACK, Baby! and B) His answers will be a boatload of fun.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

 
Linking to Comic Book Galaxy -- I've just put up a page of Comic Book Galaxy banners you can grab and use on your site or blog to link back to Comic Book Galaxy. Please e-mail me if you use one, and let me know if you have a need for a custom size or shape that isn't on the page. Thanks!

 
Tuesday Morning -- Just watched The Office (US version); third episode was very funny. It's looking good for this series, and I find I am able to separate my perceptions of it from the original, brilliant incarnation. I don't know how they'll be able to explain Michael Scott keeping his job for more than a few more episodes, though. Loved when Jim threw the ice cream sandwich at Dwight, who was locked in his office. Give this one a chance, folks, it deserves it.

Watched The Shield this morning as well: David Acevada's character is going down a particularly disturbing road. There are moments on this series that are just so skeevy, it's amazing that it's on American TV.

Must have close to one hundred entries in the James Kochalka Super-F*cking Contest already. Awesome. Keep those e-mails coming: With ten prizes to hand out in this one, your chances of winning something are very, very good.

 
Permanent Damage -- Steven Grant has updated his Permanent Damage column at CBR, and I wanted to say thanks to him for linking to Comic Book Galaxy's Super-F*cking Contest (going on all month, enter today!). Grant's column is a must-read every week: Sin City and more of Grant's well-earned wisdom on how to create good comics are in the mix this week. Go read.

 
The Uh, It's Great, I Guess, Meme -- From Sean T. Collins: List five things that people in your circle of friends or peer group are wild about, but you can't really understand the fuss over. To use the words of Caesar (from History of the World Part I), "Nice. Nice. Not thrilling...but nice." So, here's my list:

1. Bill Sienkiewicz's Stray Toasters; see also, the art of Ashley Wood.

2. Spinal Tap, The Life of Brian, and most other revered comedies. I am hugely turned off by 95 percent of all comedy movies and TV shows. I just find them forced and artificial and exhausting. The TV comedy I like includes The Office (the original recipe, although the second episode of the US version was funny), Fawlty Towers, Shaun of the Dead and Spaced (the TV series that spawned Shaun). If I'm in the right frame of mind the whole Old School/Anchorman/Starsky and Hutch axis of comedy movies can get me to laugh, but I need a group to watch those with.

3. Marc Bell. Just don't get it.

4. Smallville. I get it, I just don't care.

5. Most music. In the past year, A Perfect Circle, The Chemical Brothers and Green Day have done CDs that I love and play often, but on the whole I have no idea what is going on in music, don't much care, and that Mars Volta CD that I actually bought because a friend told me it was good was just fucking awful. Rush on steroids. Ecch. So, yeah, chances are when you recommend music to me, I'm not gonna care. You really think I'm gonna love it if I just give it a chance, burn me a CD and I'll give it a spin, but I go into a record store maybe twice a year, and half that time I'm just looking for a sale on CD-ROMs, so, yeah. Don't get the whole music thing.

I'll hand this off now to Christopher Allen, Ed Cunard and Joe Rybandt.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

 
Making Better Links -- Thanks to NeilAlien, truly one of the smartest blokes I know online, for linking to this page on how to make better links. The short version: "Click here" is useless, wake up and make the Internet work better.

 
The 24 Conversation -- Starring me and Christopher Allen. SPOILERS for last night's 24.

CA: Not such a great twist on 24, actually. I'm sure the Prez will be all right, and Jack will defeat Capt. Opie before he can finish the job.

ADD: I wrote a bit about how disappointed I was on the blog, including some of the truly stupid plot points.

CA: Good points. I didn't really even understand the thing with the fake outlet--seemed like too much trouble when you could just, I dunno, hide the drive in a couch cushion or something. Not as dramatic, I guess.

Man, the President is a bore. The crucial difference is that if Palmer was the one shot down, you'd care. This guy, you just feel bad that Jack and CTU screwed up. It is kind of funny when you think about it--Jack doesn't have any CTU affiliation anymore, but is the lead on everything, even terrorist negotiation.

Even Chloe was lousy in this one, and who cares if Michelle dated a guy while Tony was on the sauce. He just needs to get her in a dark CTU hallway and give her the Tony Al-mayonnaise! :)

ADD: Well, you can actually buy a fake outlet/safe, and I am sure that's
what they were referencing. Not as manly as bumpernuts, to be sure, but you can get 'em.

As far as the President being a bore, I think you are not the target audience. I think his blankness marks him as an intentional Bush avatar, as Palmer was a Clinton avatar ("First black president," blue dress, scheming wife, and all). I could easily see the red states getting misty over the demise of the steely old reptile, investing all their manly Bush-love in his vapid insipidity. Insipidness? Inspidy? HE'S FUCKING INSIPID!

And Jack's CTU affiliation, well, they're really playing fast and loose with reality on a weekly basis this time around. Which I can accept, but, the writing, direction and plot need to be exciting enough to cover, and last night it was not.

"Tony Al-mayonnaise?" BLARRRRRRRRRRRGH. But, you're right. Don't miss the point that she's still schtupping him, probably to introduce sexual/romantic conflict
since Jack and Audrey have clearly been All Goddamned Done since he
tortured her pansy ex right in front of her (GOOD MOVE, BAUER! MOLEST
HER GOLDFISH, TOO! DO IT FOR AMERICA! AMERICA!!!)

Monday, April 04, 2005

 
New Contest and More! -- Get the lowdown on one of the biggest anthologies of the year with Comic Book Galaxy's PROJECT SUPERIOR Project, and enter our latest contest, The Super-F*cking Contest, with a chance to win original art by James Kochalka, an American Elf hardcover, copies of Super-F*ckers #1, and more, courtesy of Top Shelf Productions, James Kochalka and Comic Book Galaxy!


 
Tonight's 24 -- Just over a half-hour from now is supposed to be the biggest episode ever of 24. Usually I tape it and watch it the next morning (I really hate commercials), but my curiousity is getting the better of me and I think I will watch it live.

One thing's for sure, it's going to be better than Invasion Iowa. I accidentally forgot to tape the last hour of the final show, which is unfortunate as it seemed marginally more entertaining as it went along, but, it's no tragic loss, not seeing the end. If they do a low-cost DVD of it and it includes the actual film that was shot in Riverside (which is available on the Spike TV website, but bastard that I am I'm not going to link to them because they didn't bother re-running the whole show like they should have, as far as I can tell), so much the better.

In other news, big stuff is coming up this week on Comic Book Galaxy: A major, major contest, and tomorrow morning one of the longest and most interesting reviews/articles we've ever done. Be sure to check in and see what we have up our sleeves.

24 SPOILERS!

24 Update: Wow, that was not well written.

The FBI agent that goes up to the house of a suspect all alone and announces her intentions to the closed door before sauntering in to certain doom?

The President's sympathetic, decent, all-American son showing up on Air Force One? Gee, I wonder what will happen next!

Jack was clearly suspicious of "Agent Drake," yet gave her free rein to get as far as she did while he was dicking around in the closet?

And the actual Big Event at the end was handled so clumsily...maybe if the episode hadn't been hyped as something special and out of the ordinary, it wouldn't have grated so much, but it just seemed like the writing and pacing were way off on this one. Probably one of my least favourite episodes ever, but the series has a way of bouncing back quickly, so, onward and, erm, downward, Mr. President.

 
Monday Morning Reviews -- Head over to the reviews section for my look at a new hardcover art book called Silver Age: The Second Generation of Comic Book Artists, and Marc Sobel's look at Jessica Abel's La Perdida #1-5.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

 
Here's Something I HATE -- All right, I'm not going to name names, because I love the blog I just saw this on.

I hate it when people give a web address in a blog post and they don't make it a link.

IT IS SO FUCKING EASY TO CREATE A LINK.

Go to http://www.google.com -- I'm sorry, Google.com -- and search for the terms "HTML" and "Basics."

IT'S THAT GODDAMNED SIMPLE.

Now I'll even make it simpler!

Go here.

Or, copy and paste this: http://www.htmlgoodies.com/primers/html/article.php/3478171 .

But you won't copy and paste it, you'll click the link, BECAUSE IT'S THE FUCKING INTERNET AND PEOPLE LIKE TO CLICK LINKS. THEY SAY FUCK YOU!!! TO COPYING AND PASTING YOUR LAZY ASS UNLINKED URL. Why even bother if you're not going to make it a link?

Come on, don't be lazy, and don't be stupid. Those are the only excuses for not creating links in your blog, and I know you're not lazy and stupid, because it's hard work and you need to be crafty just to make most goddamned blogging interfaces work in the first place. So fucking do it right.

 
Miller's Grist -- Tom Spurgeon once again proves himself the comics internet's MVP with an extensive and excellent rundown of Frank Miller online resources. My thanks to Tom for linking to a couple of my reviews, and I already sent him a suggestion to include my examination of Miller's Daredevil #191, which is my favourite piece of my own writing on Miller, but which might have flown under Tom's radar, being in the Galaxy's commentary section instead of in the reviews...

 
Sunday Morning in the Red Room -- Whoa, as Keanu would say. So the time change was last night? Let me know if I am wrong, but my computer updated while I was sleeping, so apparently last night was the whole "Spring forward," eh?

Well, this morning in the red room -- that's our living room, which my wife painted red when we moved in here last fall, and I just like calling it that -- this morning I can type away as loud as I like. No kids migrated to the living room futon, so bwah ha ha! LOOK AT ME, TYPING LOUD! CLACKITY CLACK CLACK.

Finished up a long review this morning, it'll go up on the site tomorrow. It's about a book I found myself deeply conflicted on, and I think that comes through in the review.

I mentioned yesterday that Chris Allen and I had a good phone conversation about Countdown to Infinite Crisis, and he gives some of his thoughts at the end of this post. Hey, Chris, The Shield just continues to get better, glad you checked it out.

Finally, Ian Brill delivers Part Two of his Grant Morrison Meltdown appearance report. Great stuff.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

 
Countdown Criticism -- Here's a letter from a reader named Paul which ended up in my spam folder for some reason, but luckily I spotted it and moved it to my inbox.

Dear Mr. Doane,

I have been a fairly regular visitor to CBG for about 3 years, and in that time I have started to appreciate comics from outside the mainstream. Taking a look to my bookshelf I see several books I never even knew existed, through you I have come to know such as Optic Nerve, Palestine, Blankets, and Bluesman just to name a few. And although my taste has differed from yours from time to time, (That whole Creature Tech fiasco rings a bell), I'd say our tastes are very similar. However, what I can't agree with you on is DC and there new Countdown to Infinite Crisis.

Over the years that I have been reading comics I have seen deaths and resurrections, ridiculous as it might seem that's what comics fans want. They want Jean Grey or Superman to die, they want Hal Jordan to go nuts and start killing people, they want characters to be misrepresented and mischaracterized just so another writer can come in and say, "that stuff we just did, that wasn't really Hal Jordan, it was just a parasite acting in Hal Jordan's body, Hal's really a sweet guy, a guy who killed a bunch of people, but really, a sweet guy nonetheless." Fanboys need there structure taken away from them because, for the most part, they'll start complaining or stop buying when the stories get to stale. Then they have that much more to complain about, "Blue Beetles Dead? WTF? I love Blue Beetle, I've loved him since day one, how could DC do this to us?"

Read any message board on the web, better yet just check out Fanboyarama, I swear with as many fans as blue beetle has, He should have had his own book and been outselling X-men and Spiderman by 50,000 copies! That being said, I understand where your coming from on Countdown, I read it, I liked most of it, but that's just it Alan, it wasn't really written for us. How many books do you read from either Marvel or DC (and I mean mainstream tights wearing superhero books) I'd guess maybe 2 or 3 tops. We've moved past it, I don't read Batman anymore strictly because it's all the same, how many different writers can tell you the same story of the Joker killing someone and Batman taking care of him and putting him back in Arkham.

Granted, some writers tell it better and the stories that we read as children will always seem sweeter than most, but it's all the same. That's why I say Bravo to DC for starting the cycle back over again, because no matter what, we've seen it before, maybe these writers will do a better job, maybe they won't, but it's all just the same, and Alan, we're old enough and our tastes have changed enough to accept it for what it is, an evolution in how mainstream comics are written, it's an EVENT book, written for the masses to shake things up. To get them talking about DC comics and to SELL books, like any other mainstream pop culture art form phenomenon, it's still always about the money.

Paul

Here's my response:

Paul,

I appreciate the note, but I beg to differ. COUNTDOWN and its cynical,
nihilistic predecessor Identity Crisis are are just lousy comics. As a
father of two comics readers, I will continue to demand that comics --
even big event comics -- not be lousy. That they be created with some
artistry and creativity. DC's current crop of crap has none of that. I
want my kids to be able to find books aimed at them that will get them
as excited about comics as Claremont and Byrne's X-Men or Wolfman and
Perez's New Teen Titans got me when I was a kid. It's a genuine, if
minor, tragedy that entry-level superhero comics are being so poorly
stewarded these days, and it's an outrage that more people aren't
demanding better from the corporate comics companies.

Thanks for writing.

Best,

Alan

I honestly wish I had been recording the hour-long conversation Chris Allen and I had about Countdown and the entire "Hack Watchmen" sub-genre that is best exemplified by Identity Crisis.

The gist of it is, though, that this current crop of bad comics are just awkward, artless corporate creations, a fact that ought to be apparent from the credits boxes of most of them, and readers are letting themselves down by supporting such lousy works. Want to enjoy a good story about DC's great, iconic superheroes? Then tune into the Cartoon Network's Justice League Unlimited, because right now that's about the only place that these excellent, entry-level characters are being used right instead of being raped from behind or having their brains splattered out on-panel.

Dan Didio and the rest of the people entrusted with the stewardship of these characters ought to be ashamed of themselves for the cynical cash-grabs of the past couple of years. I don't believe DC's characters -- or anyone else's -- ought to be written strictly for children, or that conflict or violence have no place in superhero comics.

I just wish that the people entrusted with these characters and their fictional destinies could be trusted to shepard and create good stories that reflect the best that comics can aspire to. Even corporate comics can be art, as dozens of creators have proven over nearly a century. But the artless hackwork and creative thuggery currently on display in these uninspired event comics are a disgrace to the industry and whatever legacy it has left.

 
Saturday Morning in the Red Room -- ADD here, coming to you live from my living room, and trying to type as quietly as possible, since my 9-year-old son Aaron wandered down from his bedroom sometime in the middle of the night and crashed out on the futon, which is two feet from this very computer. But neither dark of night nor slumbering elementary schoolers shall stand in the way of my unappointed task.

Ian Brill has a fascinating look (part one of two!) at Grant Morrison's visit to Meltdown Comics. Morrison is one of the most interesting comics writers alive today, and Ian does a great job recreating his experience of watching the man speak. Most interesting to me was this quote:
Sigils and comic characters as sigils were tackled next. "Sigils," Morrison explained, "are just taking a figure and condensing unconscious desires into them. They always work, that’s the scary thing."
In my extremely limited experience, I have to say that that is as true a thing as I have ever read, and reason enough for folks to investigate Morrison's literary influences. It also reminds me of CrossGen, which criminally misused the word, and see where that got them?

At any rate, the Brill Building has become one of my favourite places to hang out over the past few weeks. Keep up the great work, Ian.

One of my other favourite blogs -- by one of my favourite people -- is Logan Polk's House of the Ded. Right now Logan is giving away not one but two copies of Bluesman by Rob Vollmar and Pablo Callejo (two of my other favourite people -- I can feel the love tonight!), signed by the aforementioned Mr. Vollmar, not coincidentally one of the other most interesting comics writers alive today.

Bluesman is a landmark work of conflict and drama, emotion and lyricism, and the fact that you have a chance to win a signed copy should already have you gone from here and over at House of the Ded.

Another great contest currently underway at Spatula Forum is the Jay's Days Giveaway, your chance to load up on swag from cartoonist/blogger/Galaxy reviewer Jason Marcy.

And there's even more stuff for you to win, with another Comic Book Galaxy contest just days from going public: I am not kidding when I say I am freaking psyched about this one, so watch this space for the announcement. I am just waiting to hear about one or two items to sweeten the pot, but already, at least ten Galaxy readers are going to win one of the coolest comics items of the year. It's not hype, I'm dying to tell you all about it, but...damn it, I gotta wait.

Oh, I got a kick out of Mick Martin's shameful confession of which great comics works he hasn't read yet. I'm proud to have suggested at least a couple of the titles he has recently investigated, and Mick, Louis Riel is literature, so don't let that more-important-literature-to-read-for-college thing stop you.

Mick also has a timely reminder that it's stupid to buy comics you're not enjoying. That's the second most important adage in comics, after Tom Spurgeon's "The only comics that are too expensive are shitty comics." The third most important adage in comics? Courtesy of John Pierce, it's "[The Comics Journal's] not elitist, you're just dumb."

Hmm, I wonder if I can stretch this out to five? Number Four would probably be the one I always go to about Marvel..."They screwed Stan Lee and they screwed Jack Kirby. You think they're not going to screw (fill-in-the-flavour-of-the-moment/month/decade)?"

Number Five? You tell me. I'm all out of adages. And my son is still sleeping, so I think I'll wrap this up for now. Enjoy your Saturday, and perhaps I'll see you back here later.

Friday, April 01, 2005

 
Win Bluesman Book 1 from Logan Polk's House of the Ded



It's a book that Alan David Doane calls "One of the most thoughtful, moving and human stories I've ever read in any form." and Marc Sobel says "This is an outstanding, unique story, crafted by an artist and a writer who are passionate about their subject matter."

Lem Taylor and Ironwood Malcott are a pair of travelling blues musicians who come to the town of Hope looking for food, rest, and a place that will let them preach their own brand of gospel. Set in 1930s America, Bluesman promises to be another fantastic story from the Eisner-nominated creative team behind The Castaways, Rob Vollmar and Pablo G. Callejo.

Here at the House we've got two copies of this wonderful first volume to giveaway, signed by writer Rob Vollmar. All you need to do is email your name and address to dedpool1979@aol.com by midnight, April 30th and you could recieve a copy! Winners will be chosen at random and announced on May 1st right here at the House.

Links to the blues:

US Publisher-Absence of Ink
Alan David Doane's 5 Questions with Rob Vollmar
The PULSE interviews Rob Vollmar
Shawn Hoke looks at Bluesman Book One (some scrolling required)
Don MacPherson reviews Bluesman Book One
Marc Mason reviews Bluesman Book One (also some scrolling required)
Copacetic Comics on Bluesman Book One (more scrolling, they also have it for sale)
Brian Hibbs on Bluesman Book One
Artbomb Bluesman blurb

 
Great Post Eaten by Blogger -- FUCK YOU, BLOGGER! Summary of powerful insights you will never see: My wife is making tacos for dinner, I dropped off my son's tax information at the accountant, and goddamned publishers should have motherfucking websites that I can find on Google. To reiterate: FUCK YOU, BLOGGER!

Update: And now I need to send an important e-mail to Tom Spurgeon and I can't get into my g-mail account. GODDAMN YOU, GMAIL!!!

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