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Thursday, August 25, 2005

Normal Galaxy Service Resumes Tomorrow -- Comic Book Galaxy Editor-in-Chief Chris Hunter had some technical issues that prevented us from having an update on the main site the past couple of days, but we should be back tomorrow at full power wih new BREAKDOWNS from Christopher Allen, LAST CALL from Johnny Bacardi, a couple of new reviews from li'l ol' me (Tricked and The Cute Manifesto, to be exact), as well as whatever other surprises the Galaxy Gang has whipped up over the past couple of days.

In the meantime, though, check out my summation of the week in comics over at The Comics Reporter, for my definitive look at this week's rank stupidity and wagon-circling on the comics internet.

Essential Reading -- As always, that's what Christopher's Butcher's Previews Reviews for October Releases amounts to. I agree with pretty much all of his choices, but pay careful attention to what he has to say about upcoming Fall releases from Drawn and Quarterly. It's almost surreal how many incredibly great graphic novels they've got on tap for you in the months ahead. Oh, yeah, and Fantagraphics has MOME Vol. 2, too. October is shaping up as one of the best months of the year for anyone who loves comics.


Dennis is Imminent -- There's a good article on the new Complete Dennis the Menace editions from Fantagraphics on the Seattle PI website. I haven't seen the first volume yet and don't know for sure how I'll take to the work, but nearly thirty years of finding my tastes simpatico with those of the Fantagraphics gang (if not as broad or well-educated) and the high quality of pretty much everything they do in general and the similar Peaunts project in particular has me very interested to see how Hank Ketcham's material holds up and affects me as a reader.

I do remember buying Dennis comics when I was in my earliest comics-buying years, say, 7-10 years old, and liking them, but decades later I don't even know if those comics had Ketcham directly involved in them, or even if they were any good. It's been a long time since I've spent any time at all with the mischievous little towhead, and I have to admit I'm psyched to renew our acquaintance after all these years and see how it goes.


Look at our powers and costumes! Why would you think we're superheroes? WISH IT INTO THE CORNFIELD, JIMMY!Psych Consult? -- Can anyone tell me why someone would be so emotionally invested in denying that CrossGen's superheroes were superheroes? Scroll down to the rather -- seething take on the question from James Meeley. The internerdiness of the kneejerk self-denial on display is really kind of weird.

Also weird: Franklin Harris's bizarre and patently ridiculous claim that Joe Sacco practices Gonzo Journalism. You know, because he's in his stories. I guess Woodward and Bernstein are retroactively shoved into the Good Doktor's backseat, too, on that long, hot journey through the '70s. Where's that salt-shaker?!?

Sheesh. I thought I had already seen every type of comics psychopathology on display on the comics interblogonerdawebothingy. Paging Dr. Crane, are you listening?


Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Thank You, Johanna Draper Carlson -- Why? Because she gets it. End of message.


Mid-Week Music Meme -- Courtesy of Bill Sherman:

A) Go to http://www.musicoutfitters.com
B) Enter the year you graduated from high school in the search function
C) Bold the songs you like, strike through the ones you hate and underline your favorite.
D) Do nothing to the ones you don't remember (or don't care about).

From the Orwellian Year 1984:

1. When Doves Cry, Prince
2. What's Love Got To Do With It, Tina Turner
3. Say Say Say, Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson
4. Footloose, Kenny Loggins

5. Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now), Phil Collins
6. Jump, Van Halen
7. Hello, Lionel Richie
8. Owner Of A Lonely Heart, Yes
9. Ghostbusters, Ray Parker Jr.
10. Karma Chameleon, Culture Club
11. Missing You, John Waite
12. All Night Long (All Night), Lionel Richie
13. Let's Hear It For The Boy, Deniece Williams
14. Dancing In The Dark, Bruce Springsteen
15. Girls Just Want To Have Fun, Cyndi Lauper
16. The Reflex, Duran Duran
17. Time After Time, Cyndi Lauper

18. Jump (For My Love), Pointer Sisters
19. Talking In Your Sleep, Romantics
20. Self Control, Laura Branigan
21. Let's Go Crazy, Prince and The Revolution
22. Say It Isn't So, Daryl Hall and John Oates
23. Hold Me Now, Thompson Twins
24. Joanna, Kool and The Gang
25. I Just Called To Say I Love You, Stevie Wonder
26. Somebody's Watching Me, Rockwell
27. Break My Stride, Matthew Wilder
28. 99 Luftballons, Nena
29. I Can Dream About You, Dan Hartman
30. The Glamorous Life, Sheila E.
31. Oh Sherrie, Steve Perry
32. Stuck On You, Lionel Richie
33. I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues, Elton John
34. She Bop, Cyndi Lauper
35. Borderline, Madonna
36. Sunglasses At Night, Corey Hart
37. Eyes Without A Face, Billy Idol
38. Here Comes The Rain Again, Eurythmics
39. Uptown Girl, Billy Joel
40. Sister Christian, Night Ranger
41. Drive, Cars
42. Twist Of Fate, Olivia Newton-John
43. Union Of The Snake, Duran Duran
44. The Heart Of Rock 'N' Roll, Huey Lewis and The News
45. Hard Habit To Break, Chicago
46. The Warrior, Scandal
47. If Ever You're In My Arms Again, Peabo Bryson
48. Automatic, Pointer Sisters
49. Let The Music Play, Shannon
50. To All The Girls I've Loved Before, Julio Iglesias and Willie Nelson
51. Caribbean Queen, Billy Ocean
52. That's All, Genesis
53. Running With The Night, Lionel Richie
54. Sad Songs (Say So Much), Elton John
55. I Want A New Drug, Huey Lewis and The News
56. Islands In The Stream, Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton
57. Love Is A Battlefield, Pat Benatar
58. Infatuation, Rod Stewart
59. Almost Paradise, Mike Reno and Ann Wilson
60. Legs, ZZ Top
61. State Of Shock, Jacksons
62. Love Somebody, Rick Springfield
63. Miss Me Blind, Culture Club
64. If This Is It, Huey Lewis and The News
65. You Might Think, Cars
66. Lucky Star, Madonna
67. Cover Me, Bruce Springsteen
68. Cum On Feel The Noize, Quiet Riot
69. Breakdance, Irene Cara

70. Adult Education, Daryl Hall and John Oates
71. They Don't Know, Tracy Ullman
72. An Innocent Man, Billy Joel
73. Cruel Summer, Bananarama
74. Dance Hall Days, Wang Chung

75. Give It Up, K.C.
76. I'm So Excited, Pointer Sisters
77. I Still Can't Get Over Loving You, Ray Parker Jr.
78. Thriller, Michael Jackson
79. Holiday, Madonna
80. Breakin'... There's No Stopping Us, Ollie And Jerry
81. Nobody Told Me, John Lennon
82. Church Of The Poison Mind, Culture Club
83. Think Of Laura, Christopher Cross
84. Time Will Reveal, Debarge
85. Wrapped Around Your Finger, Police
86. Pink Houses, John Cougar Mellencamp
87. Round And Round, Ratt
88. Head Over Heels, Go-Gos
89. The Longest Time, Billy Joel
90. Tonight, Kool and The Gang
91. Got A Hold On Me, Christine McVie
92. Dancing In The Sheets, Shalamar
93. Undercover Of The Night, Rolling Stones
94. On The Dark Side, John Cafferty and The Beaver Brown Band
95. New Moon On Monday, Duran Duran
96. Major Tom (Coming Home), Peter Schilling
97. Magic, Cars
98. When You Close Your Eyes, Night Ranger
99. Rock Me Tonite, Billy Squier
100. Yah Mo B There, James Ingram and Michael McDonald

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Monday, August 22, 2005

Hooray for Boredom! -- You really have to thank Paul O'Brien for his recent Ninth Art column on how bored he is with the boring comics he has bought and written (usually much more interestingly than the comics themselves) about on his site. As dangerously nerdtastic as Paul's exasperation is (contrast it with the positive changes Randy Lander has initiated over at Fourth Rail after having a similar critical crisis), it has resulted in some wonderful summations of everything that has been right in comics this year.

Christopher Butcher: "Mini-comics, indies, art-comics, manga, they're all undergoing relative booms right now, in terms of quality and diversity of material. You ask the guy hitting the comic shop once a month to pick up some of the newer and more interesting 'art-comix' graphic novels, and he or she will probably tell you that, if anything, they've had to budget themselves because there's too much good material coming out. ART COMIX DILEMMA: TOO MANY GOOD BOOKS. Which is to say nothing of the manga fans getting 60 new graphic novels a month."

Thanks also to Christopher for both linking to and understanding why I started KOCHALKAHOLIC!, saying "Cheers to ADD for putting something uniformly positive and interesting onto the web this week."

And as if that weren't enough, Comics Reporter Tom Spurgeon has kicked off a new 8-week series on the fascinating stories going on right now during one of comics' best summers ever: "Luckily, there's a ton of stuff happening or about to happen that's way too interesting, fun, and enjoyable for anything less than our full attention."

Tom starts with a timely essay on the new Calvin and Hobbes collection.

Still more. Logan Polk, in the new Loose Staples column today at Comic Book Galaxy: "I just don’t get it. I see it, I used to be one of those, but discovering how much is really out there has been probably the best adventure of my life so far." Seeing someone like Logan discover the richness of the comics artform (and I envy him reading some of the titles he mentions having in his reading stack), and sharing the joy that he takes in it, makes five years of ups and downs of this site well worthwhile.

Comics: You either love 'em right now, or you need to read different ones. Nuff said, true believer.

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Sunday, August 21, 2005

Great Expectations, Limited Visions -- I don't agree with everything in this "Harvey Jerkwater" essay on three landmark artcomix, but I agree with much of it*, particularly about Blankets and Buddy Bradley, and I heartily recommend giving it a read for no other reason than that someone is expressing negative thoughts about artcomix but actually reading and thinking about them first, and apparently he wasn't "bored" by even the most flawed of the three works.

* I particularly think "Harvey's" read of Jimmy Corrigan is a bit under-nuanced and unappreciative of the depth of despair in Jimmy's relationship to his father and the generational anxieties of the novel, but again, the mere fact that "Harvey" actually read the thing is a cause for celebration among those who discuss comics online.

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Thursday, August 18, 2005

HAPPY BIRTHDAYS! -- Happy birthday to two great people today, both of whom are firmly rooted in comics.

Christopher Allen, longtime contributor and editor of this site, and much like Steven Grant, one of my favourite comics critics.

Also celebrating today, Friend of Kochalka and James Kochalka Superstar bandmember Jason Cooley.

Have the happiest of birthdays, guys!


Wednesday, August 17, 2005

KOCHALKAHOLIC! -- Go check out my new blog KOCHALKAHOLIC, dedicated to the work of James Kochalka. Marvel at the weird, unplanned coincidence involving today's date.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Time, Flowing Like A Meme -- Roger Green posted this to his blog, and here I am taking the meme out for a spin.

1. Ten years ago: In August 1995, my wife and I were anticipating the November birth of our son, Aaron, and I was working as News Director for a Glens Falls radio station.

2. Five years ago: In August 2000, I had been working for one year as morning news guy at an Albany radio station, and working to put together a website called Comic Book Galaxy.

3. One year ago: The worst eight months of my adult life began. Things are better now, thanks.

4. Yesterday: Worked, fixed dinner for my kids, retired to my bedroom to read an advance preview of one of the better graphic novels of this year.

5. Today: Work, doubtlessly will fix dinner for the kids, and hopefully watch last night's Daily Show and Too Late with Adam Carolla before bedtime.

6. Tomorrow: Mmm, survey says "work." It's also the day before payday, so you can be sure little to no money will be spent on much of anything.

7. Five snacks I enjoy: Popcorn, toast and jam, trail mix, animal crackers (the good ones, as Roger noted), english muffin.

8. Five bands I know the lyrics of most of their songs: Beatles, Pink Floyd, James Kochalka Superstar, Tool, Peter Gabriel.

9. Five things I would do with $100,000,000: Start a comics company; select creators would be given a yearly stipend and asked to create whatever they want to, with no editorial interference whatsoever. Hire a full-time chef/nutritionist. Let my wife choose a house for our family. Hire a driver and buy the most tank-like vehicle possible for them to drive me around in. Buy Marvel and DC Comics and return all rights to all characters to their original creators.

10. Five locations I'd like to run away to: Montreal, Toronto, Oregon, Washington State, Northampton, Mass.

11. Five Bad Habits: My "intuitive" financial planning. Avoiding the doctor. Not reading enough. Forgetting people can't read my mind. Caffeine addiction.

12. Five things I like doing: Reading. Writing. Spending time with friends. Exploring new places. Watching my children grow.

13. Five TV shows I like: Extras. The Sopranos. 24. Boston Legal. 30 Days.

14. Famous People I'd like to meet, living or dead. John Lennon, Howard Zinn, Howard Stern, Bernard Krigstein, Gary Groth.

15. Biggest joys at the moment: My kids. Good work on Comic Book Galaxy. Allergies under control after an apocolyptic early summer.

16. Favorite toys: DVD player. New computer with CD burner. USS Catastrophe Shop.

17. Five people to tag: Logan, Shane, Chris, Fred, Rob.


The Thrill and Excitement of Comics -- It's truly astonishing to me that anyone would say they are "bored" with "comics" right now -- I was looking over the site, and here are some of the great comics that we've covered here at Comic Book Galaxy in our reviews and commentary sections since our relaunch in June:


And ALL-STAR SUPERMAN hasn't even come out yet. If you read comics and you're bored, dude, comics isn't the problem.

Nuff said, true believer!

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The Challenge -- The Brattleboro Museum & Art Center presents...

The 24 Hour Comic Book Challenge

Can you create a 24-page comic book in 24 continuous hours? Story,
script, finished art, lettering, paste-up, proofreading, everything?
The Brattleboro Museum & Art Center invites the public to join its
24-hour Comic Book Challenge, in which there are no prizes except the
pride of completing the not-quite-impossible. The Challenge takes
place from noon to noon, Saturday, August 27 to Sunday, August 28, and
is presented in conjunction with the Museum's new exhibit of Vermont
comic artists, Comic Art in the Green Mountains (August 5, 2005 -
February 5, 2006). For questions or registration, call 802-257-0124,
or send an e-mail to office AT brattleboromuseum DOT org. Registration is FREE.

For more information on how to participate, click here:



Comic Art in the Green Mountains

Comic Art in the Green Mountains (August 5, 2005 - February 5, 2006)
features five of Vermont's preeminent comic artists: Stephen R.
Bissette (Swamp Thing, S.R. Bissette's Tyrant), James Kochalka
(Sketchbook Diaries, Monkey vs. Robot), Frank Miller (The Dark Knight
Returns, Sin City), James Sturm (Above & Below, The Golem's Mighty
Swing), and Rick Veitch (Swamp Thing, The Dream Art of Rick Veitch).

Monday, August 15, 2005

Monday, Briefly -- Thanks to everyone who bought an item or items in the Mid-Summer Fundraising Sale. My wife and I packed and addressed dozens of packagaes yesterday, and this week we'll be shipping stuff out. Thanks also to everyone who linked to the sale, it's much appreciated.

I'm frankly in awe of the quality of today's update on Comic Book Galaxy proper. Two powerful and well-reasoned opinion columns (both of which incorporate reviews and/or previews) and a terrific review of a landmark comics work. Make sure you click over and spend part of your day with the Galaxy gang, they're doing good work.

I'm also thrilled with the job Chris Hunter has been doing since he accepted the Editor-in-Chief position here at the Galaxy. He's doing fantastic work, and I'm grateful to have the site in such talented hands. Thanks, Chris.

Didn't get a lot of comics reading done over the weekend -- Saturday was spent with the family in Albany, at Earthworld Comics, at the New York State Museum, and finally at the Spectrum Theater to see a great documentary called March of the Penguins. Between the stunning bottom-of-the-world footage and the sardonic narration of Morgan Freeman, you really can't go wrong. But the real appeal of the movie lies in the dramatic story of the penguins themselves. When you see the genuine drama that their mating cycle entails -- for example, standing up in the same place for four months without eating in order to protect an egg at 50 to 100 degrees below zero in brutal wind and snowstorms -- well, come on. Those little birds are tough. Seriously, it's 80 wonderful minutes of film. if it's playing anywhere near you, check it out.

I did manage to read some comics yesterday, though -- some of The Complete Crumb Comics Volume 17, which has some of my favourite Crumb stories in it, as well as stuff I'd never read before -- and I even talked my wife into reading John Porcellino's forthcoming Perfect Example, which she liked, especially John P.'s story of the pain of a high school crush.

If I know what comics women would like to read, why doesn't the comics industry?

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Friday, August 12, 2005

FINAL HOURS OF THE Mid-Summer Fundraising Sale! -- OK, we're almost done! Look over the list, and if you BUY ANY FOUR OR MORE REMAINING LOTS, TAKE TWENTY PERCENT OFF YOUR TOTAL.

The terms are simple, and intended to raise funds as quickly as possible, and get your books to you as quickly as possible: Each item is listed by LOT NUMBER and PRICE, which INCLUDES FREE U.S. SHIPPING. Buyers outside the U.S. will pay shipping costs. When you have put together your list of LOTS you are interested in, OR IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT ANY LOT, e-mail me at alandaviddoane@gmail.com and inquire if your LOT(S) have sold yet. If your item(s) are available, you must send payment BY PAYPAL to alandaviddoane@gmail.com WITHIN 24 HOURS or send a U.S. Postal Money Order (available at any U.S. post office) payable to Alan David Doane by PRIORITY MAIL within 24 hours. Please let me know by which method you are paying. Thanks and please read carefully!

Here's the books available:




LOT #025: JAMES KOCHALKA SUPERSTAR OUR MOST BELOVED CD/DVD SET (new in shrinkwrap; Rykodisc) - $8.00





Sunday, August 07, 2005

I Still Like Superheroes -- Those are the words of a reader who subscribes to the Comic Book Galaxy Mailing List and recently dropped me a line to thank me for his prize in a contest I ran exclusively for subscribers to the mailing list. Here's the exchange between John and I:

Mr. Alan David Doane,

I just wanted to thank you for the envelope of comics and books I got
yesterday! I have to admit that I had forgotten about the contest,
and so I was very surprised (and excited....perhaps going farther into
the "giddy as a schoolgirl" mode than was appropriate. But man, new
comics!! How cool is that, especially when you're not expecting
them?!). I looked through them last night, and it looks like a great
variety of stuff, none of which I've read, and some of which I'm only
vaguely familiar. I can't wait to get reading!

I came into comics as a fan of superheroes, as I expect many in the
hobby did. And I still like superheroes. Sadly, it seems that most
of the creators writing them don't like them, as they handle them
rather badly. I realized the other day, as I went through the new
Previews, that less and less of my money each month goes to
superheroes, and more and more goes to other kinds of comics. Hmmm.
I say sadly as though I am saddened that I'm branching out, which is
not true. I'm truly enjoying the different options out there, and am
finding the comic book form to be more fascinating and adaptable than
I ever thought possible. Still, it's sometimes hard to know exactly
where to look, so getting packages like this, giving me a lot of
different options, is a great way to point me in a few different

Thanks again!


And then I replied...


Thanks very much for taking the time to write, it's nice to know the
books are so appreciated! I appreciate very much that you are a part
of our mailing list, and interested in the site.

You know, I really don't think some of today's superhero comics
writers dislike the characters, so much as they just read ONLY
superhero comics as preparation for their comics careers, and thus do
not have the more expansive, creative imaginations of people like Alan
Moore, Jack Kirby, and other noteworthy creators. So, while I despise
the majority of work by people like Geoff Johns and Brad Meltzer and
even recent work by Brian Bendis, I do think that at this point the
readers and publishers are more to blame than the hacks that are
turning this stuff out and apparently making money doing it, although
to the longterm detriment of at least their sector of the industry.



And then John wrote back...


Interesting point. I would certainly agree that the publishers have
to shoulder quite a bit of the blame. I am aghast at much of this
year's output. The mega crossovers make me ill, as they serve only
the aging fanboys, a dying market. They don't court new readers, and
the major companies seem to not be concerned by this. The major
companies also don't seem interested in pushing forward. The return
of Hal Jordan at DC this year really crystallized things for me. Do I
think that what happened to Hal Jordan many years ago was wrong? Yes,
it was a bad story. But it happened years ago....it's time to move
on! Let's put it in the past and make new stories, featuring new
characters! It's one of the things I miss about James Robinson's
superb Starman series. He was able to use the past, but instead of
wallowing in it, he used it to help build a future.

And, of course, you're correct. Readers are to blame somewhat.
Luckily there are websites likes yours, ones that can point people
toward other comics. Hopefully more readers will begin to see the
vast selection of styles, formats and voices out there, and they'll
experiment. Speaking from experience, that can be quite rewarding.

Thanks for your time!


Finally, I responded once again...

Interestingly, the JLA cartoon on Cartoon Network shows us a vital,
interesting and three-dimensional Green Lantern in their version of
John Stweart, but to adopt him to the DCU "proper" would be to admit
that Dwayne McDuffie and Paul Dini know more about how to handle their
characters than DC editorial does...which, of course, they do.

And it is heartening to find DC's stable of great characters and the people who enjoy them being treated to exciting, well-crafted adventures on Cartoon Network. I can't wait for full-season DVD sets of the Justice League series, both the original and the Unlimited version. Given that the Batman Animated DVD collections have continued with the release of a third set, I hope that all the DC Animated material of the past decade or so eventually finds its way to DVD. Both so I can share them with my kids, and because, of course, I still like superheroes.


Monday, August 01, 2005

The Monday Briefing -- Hello, good morning, and welcome to August: My least favourite month of the year. It's usually hot, humid, and transforms Saratoga Springs into a No Man's Land of tourists, many of them middle-aged men in bad seersucker suits sucking on soggy cigars at the track, as they piss their life savings away. Yay, August!

One of the best graphic novels I've read this year is The Push Man & Other Stories, a hardcover due out in September that is written and drawn by Yoshihiro Taniguchi and designed and presented by Optic Nerve's Adrian Tomine. Any new release from Drawn and Quarterly is worthy of attention, but this book is absolutely stunning, from the quality of the stories to the design and implementation of the material. Christopher Butcher has posted some Previews Review-y type comments about the book, and I urge you to give them a look.

As I write this, the Monday Galaxy update hasn't posted yet, but new EiC Chris Hunter worked through the weekend to have everything ready for this morning, and I know there's a good amount of great stuff for you to read over on the main site, so be sure to check that out.

I know it's August, but try to enjoy your Monday anyway.

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