Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Brokeback vs. Crash -- DVDFile's Mike Restaino eloquently explains why it's so ridiculous that Brokeback Mountain was denied a Best Picture Oscar.

And speaking of Crash, I watched the first half or so of the David Cronenberg film of the same name this past weekend, and was once again unable to finish it, despite my love of James Spader. Anyone wondering if any art is just too twisted for me should have a look at Cronenberg's Crash. If they can take it. I find I can't...

Not that the movie shouldn't exist, or that others can't enjoy it, it's just interesting to me to find out what my own limits are. Crash presents a pretty good example to me of where I really prefer not to go with the art I consume. It's just too goddamned disturbing.

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Monday, April 17, 2006

Seven Soldiers of Memery -- Nicked, as usual, from Roger. Hi, Roger!

7 things to do before I die:

1. Move to Canada
2. Edit/publish a magazine
3. Go to The San Diego Comicon
4. Interview Alan Moore again
5. Hang out with Chris Allen, Rob Vollmar and d. emerson eddy
6. See my kids grow into adulthood
7. Celebrate the 10th, 15th, and 20th anniversaries of Comic Book Galaxy

7 things I cannot do:

1. Sleep more than five hours without chemical assistance
2. Promise to do something I know I won't do
3. Watch the last Henry Blake episode of M*A*S*H without crying
4. Watch Shaun of the Dead without laughing my ass off
5. Sit through TV commercials
6. Read most comic book websites for more than 30 seconds.
7. Believe the lies my government wants me to. Sorry, guys; tell the truth, or at least lie better.

7 things that I like about my county (Warren County, NY)

1. How close it is to Canada
2. How relatively crime-free it is
3. The Hyde Collection Museum in Glens Falls
4. The water of Lake George (as opposed to the tourist trap Village of Lake George)
5. That it has both somewhat urban and somewhat rural elements within 10 minutes of each other
6. There are not seven things I like about my county.
7. Sorry, Chamber of Commerce.

7 things I often say:

1. "It seemed like a good idea at the time."
2. "That's me!" (in response to someone calling out "Alan!" or "Doane!"at work)
3. "I'll need a production order." (To radio sales people who forget that their ad won't go on the air without one)
4. "Knock!" (To my kids, who never do)
5. "What's your name, Kira?" (To my daughter Kira; it was funny when she was 2 and would tell me her name was Kira.)
6. "I need to charge my cell phone." (I get anal when I lose one bar of power)
7. "I wish I had more time to do everything I wanted to do today."

7 books that I love re-reading:

1. The Geography of Nowhere by James Howard Kunstler
2. The Great Movies I and II by Roger Ebert
3. For Keeps by Pauline Kael
4. Cosmos by Carl Sagan
5. Lolita by Vladimir Nabakov
6. Voice of the Fire by Alan Moore
7. I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell by Tucker Max

7 movies I watch over and over again (well, more than once):

1. Pulp Fiction
2. Donnie Darko
3. Ghost World
4. Crumb
5. American Splendor
6. Shaun of the Dead
7. Seven (ha!)

7 graphic novels I will keep forever:

1. From Hell
2. Ghost World
3. American Elf
4. Diary of a Teenage Girl
5. Louis Riel
6. The Ticking
7. Jay's Days: The Rise and Fall of The Pasta Shop Lothario

7 great comic shops

1. The Beguiling; Toronto, ON
2. Earthworld; Albany, NY
3. Million Year Picnic; Cambridge, MA
4. Modern Myths; Northampton, MA
5. Fantaco; Albany, NY (gone but not forgotten)
6. Unicorn Comics; Saratoga Springs, NY (ditto)
7. The USS Catastrophe Shop; on the internets

7 blogs I always read

1. The Comics Reporter
3. Comics Worth Reading
4. Beaucoup Kevin
5. Progressive Ruin
6. Neilalien
7. Jog the Blog

7 people I wish would blog more often

1. Chris Allen
2. Rob Vollmar
3. Ed Cunard
4. Logan Polk
5. d. emerson eddy
6. Jason Cooley
7. Me

7 comics sites I visit every day

1. Comic Book Galaxy
2. American Elf
3. Jason Marcy's LiveJournal
4. Comic Book Resources
5. The Engine
6. The Comics Journal Message Board
7. Andrew Foster's LiveJournal

7 people I wish would do something else for a living besides comics:

1. Geoff Johns
2. Jeph Loeb
3. Judd Winick
4. J. Michael Straczynski
5. Brad Meltzer
6. John Byrne
7. Jim Lee

7 people to tag:

1. Chris Allen
2. Rob Vollmar
3. Derik A Badman
4. Johanna Draper Carlson
5. Jason Marcy
6. Logan Polk
7. Kevin Church

...if you wanna, gang.

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Fell Sells Out -- I'm not wont to reproduce press releases very often, but Warren Ellis and Ben Templesmith's Fell is a good comic that reads great in the single issue format and deserves support, so here's some news from Image...


Five Eisner Award nominations. Three issues sold out. Still only $1.99,
the best deal in comics. FELL is having the best week ever.

Image Comics has announced it is going back to print on three
separate issues of FELL - new printings on the two most recent issues
(#3 and #4) along with a FOURTH printing for FELL #1. In keeping with
previous re-printings, each new printing of FELL will feature the
same cover and content, with no variants.

Aside from its amazing creative team and universal praise, what sets
FELL apart is its unique format - coming in at only $1.99 for 24
pages, the ultra-compact story delivers more bang for the buck and is
pioneering what is quickly being nicknamed the "FELL Format" comic book.

"It's absurd that we are doing another printing of a $1.99 comic
featuring a nun wearing a Richard Nixon mask. But as long as
retailers keep selling 'em, we'll keep printing 'em," said Ellis.
"And to think some retailers accused us of leaving money on the
table. We seem to be hoovering it up pretty damn good, no?"

To top off its incredible sales velocity, it was also announced that
FELL had received FIVE separate Eisner Award nominations - Best
Continuinig Series, Best New Series, Best Writer, Best Painter/
Multimedia Artist and Best Lettering. The Eisner Awards winners will
be announced at this year's San Diego Comic Con International.

FELL is the first book from Image Comics to encompass this new
format, but not the last. Debuting in June will be the second "Fell-
Format" book, CASANOVA, a sci-fi espionage epic by Matt Fraction
(Punisher: War Journal) and Gabriel Ba (Rock'n'Roll).

Don't miss out on one of the hottest books on the stands, advance
orders are available now for FELL #5 (NOV051740), which is scheduled
to be in stores late May, the same time as these new printings. Also,
still available for order is the 3rd Printing of FELL #2 (DEC058380).

These new printings - FELL 2ND PRINTING #3 (FEB068169), FELL 2ND
PRINTING #4 (FEB068170) and FELL 4TH PRINTING #1 (FEB068168) - are
available now for advance re-order. Your local retailer can contact
their Diamond Customer Service Representative for ordering.

Make sure you tell your retailer to get some Fell for you if you haven't tried it yet, it's good stuff.


Sunday, April 16, 2006

Not that great, but it was already in the Comic Book Galaxy images directory: Adi Granov's cover to Iron Man Vol. 4 #1Covering Iron Man -- Tom Spurgeon highlights a classic Gil Kane image as a springboard to discussing how Iron Man has had a lot of bad covers over the years; I thought I would separate the wheat from the chaff (or the Iron from the Man?), and look at some of the few great* Iron Man covers from throughout the character's history (click the issue numbers to see the covers):

Iron Man #1 -- Of course, if you can't get a striking cover for the first issue of your own ongoing title, you know you have a problem. Actually, as eye-catching as this one is, that's more to the (overwrought) sense of drama artist Gene Colan gave to the character; the first-issue ribbon/banner (it looks slapped-on, har-har!) does nothing for the design, and the tiny background elements would distract from the overall design if not for the colour choices made to make Iron Man himself pop out. So, while the cover achieves the goal of likely luring the eyes of potential readers scanning racks full of comics, it's more down to the primary element of Iron Man himself and the way the colours play down everything else in the image. Hmm, Spurgeon may be on to something.

Iron Man #47 -- It only took 47 issues to give us a virtual repeat of the cover to #1, but at least here Gil Kane delivers a body shot that has power and grace without the melodrama inherent in Gene Colan's cover for #1. Vince Colletta's intention-destroying, time-saving, fine-line inking actually looks okay on the primary cover element (Iron Man), and this is about as iconic a depiction of my favourite Iron Man costume as you're likely to find.

Iron Man #54 -- This cover just looks great, no caveats at all. The poses are dramatic and fluid, the jagged lines of the bursts of water reflect the rage of Namor, and the backgroud perspective works perfectly to enhance the excitement of the image. A great example of why I think Gil Kane is one of the best artists ever to work in comics.

Iron Man #80 -- I've always been a sucker for this image, probably my favourite Iron Man cover of all time. Sure, the perspective is wonky (if not downright awkward -- why do we see the bottom of Iron Man's ill-advised 1970s-style "nose" in the way that we do, as his body angles downward and away from us? Why are his arms posed like that?); despite everything, though, the figure, the spectacular background images and the colouring all work to present a virtually 3-D portrait of the Armoured Avenger that is powerful and suggestive of a thrilling adventure that was almost certainly not found within the actual pages of the comic that it was wrapped around.

Iron Man #118 -- The Layton era had some of the series' best and worst covers. This one was one of the best, in terms of accurately reflecting the comic's innards and providing an arresting visual image that stood out on the stands.

Iron Man #128 -- Probably the best-remembered and most evocative cover in the history of the series. This one is so convincing in its seediness -- can't you just smell what a wreck Tony Stark has become? -- that it's almost a wonder this EC-like depiction of addiction got by the Comics Code. That it did is probably due to the clear message the creators thought they were sending -- that alcoholism is a devastating disease that destroys the lives of those who have it and those who love those who have it. Unfortunately, if memory serves, the simple-minded actual message was that alcoholism can be overcome in less than 30 pages if you have a hot girlfriend, clenched fists and a fashionable sports car. The End.

Iron Man #142 -- Another outer space scene (see issue #80, above), nicely contrasting the shiny precision of the armor (a new variation, another interesting element) against the blackness of space (much less dynamic a place than in Kirby's #80 cover, and yet it seems to make Iron Man stand out oven more if he is not competing with galaxies a-borning). The boot-jets are meant to add a sense of motion, but actually detract of the power of the figure work.

Iron Man #243 -- As you might guess from the huge gap between this entry and the previous one, the title entered a long, dry spell of really bad covers; this one actually isn't much better than average for the time, but the design element of the newspaper makes it stand out from a large crowd of lousy covers, and extra points to whoever decided to provide actual text for the newspaper rather than the more-standard gibberish or straight lines. The art on the inside is worth noting for having Barry Windsor-Smith's inks over Layton's pencils; it's clear from the art that BWS more than likely extensively revised Layton's work in some places, making for a much better than usual issue as far as the art goes. The script, if memory serves, was the usual overripe melodrama that weighted down the character long after the brief, now terribly dated-seeming heyday of the original Michelinie/Layton run.

Iron Man #256 -- What is it with me and these outer-space shots? I just think this one grabs the eye quite well, and the repulser rays and boot smoke actually work this time around. The most striking thing about this image, I think, is the well-placed use of shadow to suggest power and drama.

Iron Man Vol. 3 #1 -- Sorry, Heroes Reborn fans, but unsurprisingly Vol. 2 of the title turned out no covers worth noting (the current Vol. 4 has likewise failed to grab the eye with its samey-samey designs and washed out colours). But this energetic image suggests the character in full motion, charging into an exciting new era. As it turned out, the Busiek/Chen era was mainly highlighted by very good artwork (Chen was born to draw Iron Man). But it's worth noting that Busiek's handling of the character is probably the best extended run he's ever had storywise, consistent and informed by an obvious love of the character and his setting.

I didn't start out intending to make this my Ten Favourite Iron Man covers, but as it turns out, ten good covers is about all the character can claim since its inception. As I said, it's pretty clear Spurgeon is on to something...


UPDATE: Johnny Bacardi threatens to turn Covering Iron Man into a meme, but luckily he's a canny enough observer that his choices are worth checking out. Especially noteworthy are this genuine classic by Johnny Craig and this lovely offering by Barry Windsor-Smith (marred, I think, by the garish purple background; imagine the effect if Iron Man was presented in front of a background of (you'll pardon the pun) stark white, a la this classic Frank Miller Daredevil cover.

* Grabs the eye, stands out on the racks, exceptional depiction of the character or story, etc., etc., blah, blah, blah, your mileage may vary, member FDIC.

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