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Thursday, June 23, 2005

 
License to Kill -- Christopher Butcher takes a long, rambling and informative look at licensed comics over at comics.212.net. Well worth a read.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2005

 
Conblogulations! -- Excellent to see CBG contributor Ian Brill celebrating the first anniversary of his blog, Brill Building. Look for a very cool piece from Ian on one of my favourite comics of the past few years sometime in the next few days, too.

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Spurgeon on Batman -- Over at The Comics Reporter, Tom Spurgeon reviews Batman Begins. Shockingly, I agree with his assessments; here's my review, if you haven't caught it yet.

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Butcher's Best of 2004 -- Sure, sure, the summer of '05 is underway, but Christopher's list is worth the wait.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2005

 
Three Super-Cool Things -- And here they are, in no particular order:

There, that should keep fans of great comics busy all goddamned day. CLICK, CLICK, CLICK, you fools! HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!

Etc., etc.

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Saturday, June 18, 2005

 
Batman Begins -- My wife and I took our kids to see Batman Begins last night, after trying a new Chinese/Japanese/Hibachi restaurant that opened in Lake George.

I think it was telling that at the end of the evening, my wife mentioned that her favourite part of the night was the restaurant -- we sat at a Hibachi table and watched our scallops, shrimp and filet mignon being prepared in front of us by a witty, talented chef. And the food was extraordinarily good. How could the show at the movie theater hope to compare?

But, we did go. My biggest comlaint about the movie had nothing to do with the movie -- it was just too goddamned loud. Every sabre clash, every spray of automatic weapons fire against a metal surface, Jesus, the assault on my ears was unbelievable. So, my enjoyment of the movie was diminished by that.

I don't know, Roger Ebert gave the movie four stars and Mark Millar says it's perfect -- I hate to be the voice of dissent, especially because I was really prepared to love this movie. And I did like some parts of it, but I can't really say I loved it.

Visually, it looked great -- the shots of Gotham City, Wayne Manor, the Batmobile rooftop chase, all pretty spectacular. The only visual letdown, to me, was the Batman costume. Perhaps they were trying to capture the look of the earliest iteration of the outfit, but, the closeups of Batman had me longing for the costumers from Batman: Dead End. On the other hand, the nightmare visions of The Scarecrow occasionally ventured into Hannibal Lecter-level creepy, and that's an accomplishment for a sooperhero movie.

Michael Caine was terrific as Alfred, and Gary Oldman was note-perfect as the Miller/Mazzucchelli Gordon from Year One, except they didn't give him enough of an internal life to really bring him to life as James Gordon. I had hoped that the presence of Flass and the whole corrupt police force subplot would allow that Gordon to emerge -- the flawed idealist who doscovers his own -- and Batman's -- inner reserves in his darkest hours. But with so little material to work with, Oldman just became a pale echo of the powerful presence -- the main character, in some ways -- from Year One.

And clearly Batman: Year One is the comic this movie most wanted to be. Unfortunately, having the guy behind the Blade movies onboard for the script insured that the subtlety and grace of Year One would be supplanted by testosterone-fueled battles and, yes, sabre-clashing. Not to say that that isn't a valid way to tell a Batman story -- but with so much resonance with Year One, perhaps a more nuanced approach would have had me raving much more about a movie, ultimately, that I am not that excited about.

Oh, and Katie Holmes? Substantial as a fart. I'm sure she's a nice person and was charming when she wasn't grating on Dawson's Creek, but she had no place in this story. Having a weird way of curling up your lip -- as disturbing in its way as that weird thing with Shannon Doherty's eye -- is no substitute for being a woman of substance and integrity who is worthy of Bruce Wayne. For the first time we see an actor convincingly portray Bruce as heterosexual, but he is (mis-) matched with an actress who was pushing the very limits of her acting skills by portraying the emotional dilemma of choosing between Dawson and Pacey.

I don't mean to be all down on Batman Begins. If the sound had been at a human level, I might have been more immersed in its charms. Certainly it was more entertaining and involving than Daredevil or The Punisher. But when all is said and done, I don't think it was better than Tim Burton's 1989 Batman. It might, in a way, have been about equally as good, although for different reasons. But Batman Begins was pretty severely wounded by the presence of Katie Holmes and a script lacking in complexity and subtlety. If this were a review, I'd probably give it a 3.5 out of 5.

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Friday, June 17, 2005

 
Last Call! -- It was a damned busy week here at THE NEW COMIC BOOK GALAXY, and what better way to relax and reflect on the week that was with a cool beverage at Johnny Bacardi's? His LAST CALL is the new weekly Friday column here at The Galaxy, and starting next Friday he'll be joined every week by Chris Allen's BREAKDOWNS, so, two of the very best writers about comics, right here on Friday to help you wind down from the week with some entertaining and informative chat. I think that's pretty cool. To check out the premiere edition of LAST CALL, click over to the main page and start reading!

So, how'd we do this week? Over a dozen columns and reviews, and more on the way every week from here on out. Not to mention that some of the regular columns we'll be featuring haven't even been mentioned yet, as they are still in various stages of preparation. We're also looking at a couple of minor tweaks to make the site design even more useful and attractive, too.

I hope you like what we've done here -- everyone is extremely excited about the possibilities that lie ahead, and grateful for the positive reaction we've been receiving. I hope if you like what we're doing, you'll drop a line to a friend who likes comics, and let them know about all the changes here at The Galaxy -- not to mention, the chance to win everything AiT/PlanetLar has ever published.

Thanks for stopping by, remember to check out JB's LAST CALL, and if there's any other of our new reviews or columns you haven't had a chance to read yet, well, when you get some downtime this weekend between barbeques (I've got two on tap, one today at work on our lunch break and one at a friend's tomorrow in Lake George, woo hoo!) and going to see Batman Begins (I'm going tonight, convinced by Roger Ebert's review), maybe stop by back here and browse through the content from the past week, or dip even deeper into the archives of the past five years of COMIC BOOK GALAXY.

It's almost enough to get me excited about our anniversary this September 1st...hmm, we should do something special for that...

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Wednesday, June 15, 2005

 
A Special Thank You -- I was thrilled to see the kind words about THE NEW COMIC BOOK GALAXY that Steven Grant has today in his column. The guy pulls no punches, so his comments really make me feel like we might be on the right track. My thanks to Grant, and everyone who's taken the time and effort to mention the new incarnation of the site -- if you have a blog or column or message board habit, I'd appreciate you helping to spread the word.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2005

 
Day Two! -- Thanks for helping to make the debut yesterday of THE NEW COMIC BOOK GALAXY our most-visited day ever. Thanks especially to everyone that linked to our efforts on their blogs, sites and message boards. Much appreciated!

Here's what's going on today:

* Chris Allen's BREAKDOWNS goes weekly with reviews and commentary

* Johnny Bacardi reviews the EC Comics retrospective FOUL PLAY

* Ian Brill reviews F-STOP

So click on over to the main page and start reading!

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Monday, June 13, 2005

 
A Note from James Kochalka -- And good news it is, too!

After 2 1/2 months out of comission, AmericanElf.com is back and fully
operational. I can now take subscribers again.

Thought you might like to know.

-- James Kochalka


I can't urge everybody strongly enough to go and subscribe. James makes his living on the subscriber base for American Elf, and for the price of just one shitty corporate comic, you get beautiful, full-colour daily diary strips every day of the month that will literally make your life better. Quite a bargain for three bucks. Go sign up now.

 
The Black Diamond Sparkles -- Larry Young (you might know him as the brilliant madman behind Comic Book Galaxy's biggest contest ever) sent me a preview of The Black Diamond, a beautiful, full-colour monthly comic written by Larry and with the best art I've ever seen by Jon Proctor. The near-future sci-fi premise -- revolving around fast cars and a brutal solution to mass transportation -- is so much fun it's amazing no one ever thought of it before.

Testosterone-driven action comics don't often do it for me, but this one looks to be done right, with energy and smarts to spare, and the colouring is terrific, hyper-real and not quite like any comic I've seen before.

Coming on the heels of Demo, I think The Black Diamond will be a genuine pleasure to pick up every month, very different from AiT's last monthly series, but looking to be equally as entertaining, and a good piece of fiction to spend your summer escaping inside.

Learn more at Newsarama.

 
The New Comic Book Galaxy -- It's happening. Go read it.

Oh, here's the press release:

Today marks the debut of THE NEW COMIC BOOK GALAXY at www.comicbookgalaxy.com .

This is a re-launch of the criticism and commentary website that will celebrate its Fifth Anniversary on September 1st, 2005. The site boasts a brand new look, but will continue to feature all the writers and columns readers have long enjoyed.

***

Today readers can view the following:

Ed Cunard's TOM SPURGEON INTERVIEW looks at Tom's time at The Comics Journal, his new site The Comics Reporter, and more

Larry Young says TAKE IT ALL! in our biggest contest ever, giving away one copy of every comic and graphic novel they've ever published

Mike Sterling's BEHIND THE COUNTER looks behind the scenes at comics retailing

Logan Polk's LOOSE STAPLES features reviews and commentary

Joe Rice's MAKE-BELIEVE WAR launches

Shawn Hoke's SIZE MATTERS features a weekly look at the best in mini-comics

Marc Sobel's CRACK SHOTS features reviews of new comics and graphic novels

...and there's even more new features in store!

***

For the past half-decade, readers have come to count on Comic Book Galaxy for the very best reviews of the very best comics and graphic novels, and beginning today, Monday, June 13th, 2005, THE NEW COMIC BOOK GALAXY will push comics -- and itself -- forward into the next phase in online comics criticism and commentary. We hope you'll join us on this exciting journey!

http://www.comicbookgalaxy.com

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Sunday, June 12, 2005

 
It's Ready -- I can't even begin to wrap my brain around it, but I think we're ready to go tomorrow morning with THE NEW COMIC BOOK GALAXY. Waiting to hear back from our tech guys about some last-second tweaks, but content-wise, we're a go.

What else? I've hardly done anything else all weekend, which originally was not how I thought this weekend would go, but for the good of the site, it's probably just as well. I did get a late-night e-mail last night that will make the new version of the site even better, which from where I am sitting is a pretty astonishing thing. But for some reason, the enthusiasm and energy I feel for this enterprise right now seems to be spreading like wildfire among Galaxy contributors new and old. If you like this site as it is now, if you liked it five years ago, you are going to very much like what we have in store for you in the week ahead, and thereafter.

One strong recommendation from me, because I have no time to write the review it deserves: Buy Ice Haven by Dan Clowes. The new hardcover, a reconfiguring of the brilliant Eightball #22 (still the greatest single issue of any comics series ever published), is absolutely fantastic and a must-read for both newcomers to Clowes and/or comics, or for hardcore Clowes fanatics. I can see a possible middle-ground of casual Clowes readers who might not get the thrill out of this recontextualization of the cartoonist's best work, but everything from the design to the reworked pages and additonal material, Ice Haven is just a wonderful ramping up of what was already one of the greatest works ever created in comics. Do pick it up.

Now, come back here tomorrow, and hopefully we'll get this crazy new era off the ground!

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Friday, June 10, 2005

 
Only Days Remaining -- The other day in a comment thread on a
comics blog, in reaction to the announcement that this coming Monday we are overhauling this site, someone said something to the effect that it seemed like Comic Book Galaxy announces a big change every three months.

Man, the internet is weird.

We certainly have gone through some changes since we launched this
thing on September 1st, 2000. Many, many talented contributors have
come through these virtual doors, and I, myself, stepped away a time
or two due to personal concerns. That's the funny thing about running
a volunteer site, when it comes down to a paying job or dealing with
serious family or health problems, oftentimes the unpaid gig is the
first thing to suffer, no matter how rewarding and enjoyable that gig
might be.

But this site has always had its detractors. It seems like the simple
act of demanding quality and passion from those who provide – or
attempt to provide – readable entertainment is seen as an act of
arrogant elitism. For the minority in the comics internet audience who
sees things that way, I doubt there will ever be any changing their
mind, so even bothering to try is probably a waste of time. For the
rest of you, though, I think we've pretty well established our mission
over the past five years, and while we've strayed off the beacon* a
time or two, we know what we want this site to be, and on Monday
morning, it's going to be much closer to that goal.

Here we are on Friday morning. Most of the new, regular columns are
finished and ready, as are a major interview and an introduction by
one of the biggest names in the industry (not coincidentally one of
CBG's biggest supporters over its lifetime). A lot is left unfinished,
though, and I will be working as hard as I can to finish everything up
and have everything as close to perfect as we can for Monday. I'm not
the only one, either – nearly two dozen people are now committed to
Comic Book Galaxy, and many of them are hard at work right now
creating new and interesting – and entertaining content for you
to read next week, and the week after, and hopefully all the weeks to
come after that, forever and ever, amen.

Please do join us on Monday.

* My only Babylon 5 metaphor in this post, I swear.

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Monday, June 06, 2005

 
Why is this kid in the corner?The Monday Briefing Special Edition: The New Comic Book Galaxy -- I have never been anyone's idea of a gifted webmaster. I have always been resistant to new developments, nervous about the future of web design, and firm in my conviction that if it wasn't in Liz Castro's book on HTML 4, I didn't need to know it. Frankly, given that our mission here has always been one of quality content over flashy dazzle, I don't think it's often hurt us, and occasionally perhaps it's been a benefit.

Just a little over a year ago, COMIC BOOK GALAXY returned to the internet after a hiatus in which I created the separate, standalone ADD BLOG.

When we came back last May, it was pretty much me and longtime buddy Chris Allen, both of us wanting to return to our CBG roots, but definitely tentative in our initial offerings. Chris didn't want to call his column BREAKDOWNS anymore, and I was afraid to commit to a column, too, instead offering up "ADD Notes," a blog-like column, before I resumed regular blogging. I might not want to do nothing but a blog, but I do enjoy having one.

A few weeks ago, things started to change in my life, so quickly I could barely keep up. There were a number of positive changes in my personal life after a pretty crappy cycle from last fall through the entire winter. If it wasn't the Winter of Our Discontent, it damn sure was The Winter of Mine. I might even tell you about it sometime. But as things started turning around, weird little changes started happening. Chris Allen decided BREAKDOWNS was back and should be called just that, sending me an e-mail that was one of the most exciting things ever to pop up in my inbox. It was a holographic moment -- mapped into the quantum particles of the fact that Chris was calling it BREAKDOWNS again was a whole implicit set of assumptions about his renewed interest, energy and excitement for his critical writing. My two favourite comics critics are Chris Allen and Tom Spurgeon, so when one of them tells me in this way that he is gearing up for a new era on the website we've shared for a half-decade now, I get a little tingly. I make no apologies for this: This was one of the most exciting moments for me in years.

My car was destroyed in a Sunday afternoon accident in mid-May that already seems like fate: For six years I had run the thankless hamster treadmill of endless car loans, paying a criminally indulgent 600 dollars a month for the "privilege" of having two cars in our family. I was injured in the accident, and am still recovering from that to some degree, but I have discovered that not having the albatross of two cars and two car loans around my neck is very exciting. I feel like it's bringing my personal life closer in line with True-Cost Economics, a saner way to live. I am no longer a slave to my red car. I wrote about that car and the accident on my blog not very long after the crash. I miss the car in a mildly nostalgic way -- it was very good to me and a lot of comics celebrities rode in it in its time -- but that time is over, and in a very real way I feel like the depressed, miserable person I was for much of the past year was killed in the crash. I feel energized, alive and excited. Both about life, and about THE NEW COMIC BOOK GALAXY.

See, I began to feel some weeks ago that Comic Book Galaxy was losing the plot somewhat. That in my depression, and with a number of personal problems, I had not provided the editorial hand needed to keep the site on-mission and on-target. I had a gifted group of writers, but was failing to give them much guidance or feedback. And while it's hard not to talk about this without seeming arrogant, I know that they appreciate feedback, criticism and praise whenever any of those are merited. I know because they tell me. In a very real way, and both my wife and Chris Allen initially laughed at this analogy, but I increasingly see CBG as the teaching hospital of comic book websites. Look where folks have gone from here: An Eisner nominated comics writer; a successful editor-in-chief at a popular and growing comic book publisher; many writers have come through the doors of the Comic Book Galaxy Virtual Lounge and gone on to do great things in this industry. Many now write for other sites or have created their own weblogs. And to me, those accomplishments are as great as getting nominated for an Eisner or running a comic book company. Because when you leave here, I think if nothing else, you take with you the idea that if comics is to grow, to be pushed forward into its own bright future, it takes active participation, communication and engagement. Like selling Rio Rancho Estates, it takes brass balls, the supreme hubris to say that comics -- as an industry, and as an artform -- can be better, to explain some of the ways that can actually happen, and to point the way to comics that are already well along that road while the corporate comics publishers in large part continue the destructive, backward-looking editorial and business policies that have so marginalized them in the eyes of the public while Manga, non-superhero fiction and artcomix are clearly ascendant in the mainstream media, in bookstores all over the country, and in the minds of people ranging from young girls and boys buying Manga to the library director who contacted me a few months ago looking for help in creating a new graphic novel category for a regional eductional system. Good comics are everywhere right now, even, surprisingly, in some comic book stores. The Beguiling in Toronto. Earthworld in Albany. Million Year Picnic in Cambridge. Atomik Pop in Norman, Oklahoma. Modern Myths in Northampton. And they're exploding in the media, in large chain bookstores, and in independent bookstores that are discovering that graphic novels have a place on their shelves, often an increasingly expanding one.

So, I began to feel some weeks back that it was time for a change. Chris had signaled that he was entering a different headspace vis a vis CBG, and between my car accident and other changes, so was I. I began to envision a NEW Comic Book Galaxy. Eventually I even started thinking of it as THE NEW COMIC BOOK GALAXY, and began asking around to see if there were any good writers I admired who maybe were simpatico with the evolution I was picturing for the site. Check the staff page a week from today, and you'll see that there were more than a few. I am profoundly grateful for the leap of faith everyone has made in either sticking with this site, or in signing on for this first day in its newest and most exciting phase ever.

Working on Comic Book Galaxy has, for five years, been a joy and delight from the angle of getting to work with writers, colleagues and friends that I respect, admire, and enjoy reading. I've always said the biggest perk has been getting to read, say, the new BREAKDOWNS column before anyone else gets to. But the flipside of that has always been that I am a victim of my own bad webmastering -- I barely know what I am doing outside the simplest HTML 4 stuff, and have probably made my own life harder by my staunch (and continued) distrust and distaste for automatic code-generating software programs.

Now, I get all the pleasure mentioned above, with the ease of use of my new Pentium 4 machine and Brian's unbelievable improvements to the creation and maintenance of the site, and Devin (the guy who answered my computer genius call for help) has made bringing all the archives up to spec in time for the rollout a breeze.

One week to go. Technical coordination between parties working on this in two separate countries requires that there will be no updates to the site for a week, except here, on the CBG blog. I wanted to warn you about that ahead of time, and to let you know what is coming.

This is my Joe DiMaggio moment, because between working with this staff of writers and having gifted, generous folks like Brian, Devin, Neil and Anthony providing behind-the-scenes support, I really feel like I am the luckiest guy on the planet right now. THE NEW COMIC BOOK GALAXY is a dream come true for me, a chance to refine and distill our best efforts and strike out in new directions to better cover an artform and industry that I have loved since I was six years old, when my mom brought me three funnybooks to read while I recovered from having my tonsils out.

That was 1972. In many ways, it feels like it was just yesterday. THE NEW COMIC BOOK GALAXY feels like tomorrow. Come back in one week and see if you don't agree.

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Sunday, June 05, 2005

 
100 Things Tony Loves About Comics -- Tony Isabella jumps on the 100 Things I Love About Comics bandwagon. Check it out!

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My First Comic Script -- I wrote my first real comics script a few months ago, after my family returned from a terrific long weekend in Oshawa and Toronto with Jay, Kris and Xander Marcy. Judging by today's Jay's Days daily diary strip, I might actually get to see the story in comics form. This is much more exciting for me than is probably healthy.

The story is set to appear in the forthcoming MY DAY IN THE LIFE OF JAY collection, a new compilation of stories by people in Jay's life, relating to their relationships with him. I truly can't wait to see how this book comes out. And if you haven't read any of the three JAY'S DAYS collections yet, you're missing out on some of the funniest and most genuinely human autobiographical comics around. Tell your retailer to order 'em for you, or visit Jason Marcy's website.

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Saturday, June 04, 2005

 
New Kochalka Interview, Non-Galaxy Division -- James the Superstar discusses Super-F*ckers in this interview at Comic Foundry.

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Thursday, June 02, 2005

 
Dear Steve -- It was twenty years ago this September
that we first met, when you were the music director of our college radio
station. I remember you got sick not long after we met, and there was that
one day that, I think, Jake, Kelly, Craig and I came to visit you. You had
a huge tube in your chest and looked pretty damned uncomfortable. If I recall
correctly, though, you did tell Kelly that now that she had seen your
nipples, fair was fair, and she should reciprocate. A comment made
even funnier for the fact that, at the time, we all hardly knew each
other.

We were all students in the broadcasting class at Adirondack Community
College. From that hospital room to the college's classrooms to your
living room and many of the bars and restaurants in the area over the
next few years, we were good friends. Craig, and very shortly
thereafter Jay, and a few other people were all part of a circle of
friends united in an interest in all of our hoped-for radio careers,
although only a handful – including you and I, ever actually got jobs
in radio. So far as I know, only Jake and I still have them, and I
haven't seen him in many years.

How do we all scatter to the wind? And how is it that we ask ourselves
that so rarely, and only at a time like this?

It was just last night, Steve, that I found out you had died. I had
e-mailed Jay about something I thought he'd be interested in, and he
mentioned in his reply how hard your passing had hit him. I was so
shocked by this casual mention of your death, that I was not even
certain he was talking about you, although, of course he was. We
always knew – you, me, your mom, all of us – that you were living on
borrowed time. Hell, in college I looked up information about your
illness and discovered the life expectancy was in the early 20s. That
you made it to nearly 40 is a genuine triumph. That you died last
December is, frankly, a kick in the head that I am having a hard time
getting past.

There's no one to blame but me for my not knowing. I allowed us to
fall out of contact with each other years ago, and at the time you
died my personal circumstances took me even further away from any kind
of communication with the person most likely to let me know what was
happening, our good and mutual friend Joe. So much has happened
between Joe and I over the past year, none of it really the fault of
either of us, but it's been hard, at times, to talk to him. Hard not
to hate him, despite the fact that ultimately all that's happened is
not his fault.

Shit, Steve, this is about you and me. And the fact is, I'm the only
one to blame for the way our lives split off from each other. For
years I loved you like a brother, and respected you mightily for being
the only person I knew who so very clearly was both smarter and
funnier than me. I often say my friend and creative partner Chris
Allen is who I want to be when I grow up, but Steve, before I met him,
that person was you. I wanted to be as funny as you, I wanted to be as
smart as you, and most importantly, I wanted to be as decent as you.

You were the best kind of friend someone like me could have – you
never pulled your punches, and you always called bullshit on me. I
never could get away with anything with you. And best of all, you
stayed loyal no matter what. I'm sure every friend you ever had knew
what I knew then and know now – there could be no better or more loyal
friend than Steve Cole.

I'm sorry for the way things turned out between us, and I take full,
100% responsibility. I always thought that, since both of us were
still friends with Jay, and friends with Joe, that somehow when enough
time had passed we'd find ourselves in a conversation together, and
the years would fall away. I thought you had found a strength and
power to defeat your illness, and I thought there'd be all the time in
the world.

Funnily enough, I have an incurable illness, now, too, although it's
nowhere as devastating yet as yours was to you. I know now, having
lived with diabetes for seven years, how you came to live with your
own illness as just a part of your life. You were sick to one degree
or another for the entirety of the time I knew you, but you never let
the sickness blot out your passion, your humour, or your life. Hell,
looking back, as confused as we were in our early 20s, you still
managed to be one of the most alive and vital people I knew. I know
you had your doubts and fears, but please know that I always looked to
you as someone who seemed to have it together in ways that I could
never hope to figure out.

I don't know what else to say, my friend. Too many years got between
us, and I lost one of the very best friends I ever had. I'm sorry I
let our friendship fall away. I'm sorry I wasn't there for you, but
I'm glad to know that Jay was. My only excuse for all this is that I
really, truly thought there'd be more time, and now there's none. But
I remember the years we were friends, and all the funny and tragic
crap that only young men in their 20s can believe is the most
important thing in the world. Approaching 40, I know that friendship
and shared experience is one of the most important things that anyone
can ever have, and I'm profoundly grateful for the time that we had,
as friends, as colleagues at the college radio station, as two
young men, one of whom always thought there'd be more time, and the
other who probably knew there would never be enough. I'm glad you got
as many years as you did, Steve, but I wish you'd gotten a little
more. Selfishly, I wish you'd gotten enough time for me to call you
up, one more time, and say hello. And to say I'm sorry. And to say
that I've missed your friendship, and I now, I always will.

Alan

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Wednesday, June 01, 2005

 
Wednesday Morning in the Red Room -- It's just minutes before 6 AM, and my wife and kids are all sound asleep in their beds. The WUP WUP WUP of the living room ceiling fan and the light tapping of the computer keyboard are the only sounds in the room. Occasionally I'll hear the muted roar of a tractor trailer leaving the supermarket around the corner, having made their deliveries for the night and now escaping under the remaining moments of night, as daylight creeps into the neighbourhood and the earliest of birds begins to rise and seek out their daily worm.

The index finger of my right hand is sore. I burned it bringing a pan of boiling water up the stairs to the bathroom, on the second floor of our 250 year old house. We lost our hot water yesterday, and while someone is supposed to come and look at the hot water heater later this morning, I needed to shave and for that I need hot water. Carrying the pan up the stairs, a few boiling hot drops splashed back and hit my index finger. I suppose it could have been much worse. But, as I said, I needed to shave.

WUP WUP WUP. My wife doesn't like the ceiling fan -- she seems to think it could fly off and decapitate one or all of us at any moment. But it's late spring and a bit stuffy in The Red Room, and the light breeze it whips up feels good. Also, in my sardonic, private moments, I must admit it reminds me of the Palmer family ceiling fan. "You were a good vehicle, Leland, but now you're old and full of holes and it's just about time to shuffle off to Buffalo." Selah.

I've read three wonderful graphic novels over the past week, none of which will be in stores before school starts back up. Drawn and Quarterly sent along advance reader's copies of WIMBLEDON GREEN, THE PUSH MAN AND OTHER STORIES and PYONYANG. Each is wonderful: Seth has a lot of fun with the comics collector mentality and lifestyle in GREEN, Adrian Tomine designs and introduces THE PUSH MAN, a collection of previously-unpublished-in-the-west stories by a Japanese cartoonist whose work is frighteningly good, and this book collects some of his earlier work from 1969. Better work is promised in future volumes, but THE PUSH MAN gets a big recommendation from me. Its peculiar brand of relationship horror seems right in the middle between Tomine's OPTIC NERVE and Junji Ito's sublime horror manga. THE PUSH MAN is not to be missed, and should be solicited in PREVIEWS soon (as will all three of these D&Q offerings, I'm guessing).

PYONYANG I haven't quite finished yet, but it's a non-fiction look at life in Korea from the perspective of a North American animator visiting on business. If that doesn't sound riveting to you -- it does to me, but you might not realize how packed with potential that concept is -- well, it is riveting. I love nothing more in comics than when a cartoonist can show me a convincing look at a world I know nothing of, and PYONYANG does that extraordinarily well.

WUP WUP WUP. The ceiling fan hasn't crashed down on my head yet. My e-mail inbox is packed with stuff I need to act on -- new ideas and new proposals, new questions and suggestions, new graphics and designs. So much to do. So little time left in which to do it all, at least if I want to meet my own self-imposed deadlines.

But if you're going to have deadlines, I suppose those are the very best type to have.

There goes another tractor trailer, roaring off into what is no longer the night. The morning is here. My finger still hurts, but I am shaved, I am clean, I am ready for the day. And thanks to the wonders of the three-day weekend, the week is already half over. I feel like it hasn't even started yet.

Let's go.

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Lifelike Comics -- Please pop over to Movie Poop Shoot today and check out Dara Naraghi and Tom Williams's new webcomic Lifelike. Naraghi says:

LIFELIKE is best described as "slice of life stories...and beyond," and will
feature short stories and vignettes written by yours truly, and illustrated
by an assortment of talented artists. The debut storyline is titled "Skin
Deep," and is drawn by artist extraordinaire Tom Williams. Tom recently drew
the NO DEAD TIME graphic novel for Oni Press, and was the 2002 Day Prize
winner (as awarded by Dave Sim) for his self-published comic MISA. "Skin
Deep" chronicles the tale of two computer consultants, a tattoo parlor, and
a restaurant manager named Kathy...

I've liked a lot of Naraghi's minicomics over the past few years, and Williams's art was the best thing about the recent graphic novel No Dead Time, so this should be worth a look. Only one strip in, my only real comment is that it's off to a promising start -- and, well, is that Jeph Loeb? The guy with the glasses? Anyway, click on over and see what you think.

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