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Monday, May 29, 2006

Pekar and Piskor's Macedonia -- The recent Ballantine release of Harvey Pekar and Gary Dumm's American Splendor: Ego and Hubris (which Chris Allen nicely describes here) is one of the best graphic novels of the year so far, and a refreshing palliative in the wake of the somewhat disappointing The Quitter. It chronicles the life of cranky, brilliant iconoclast Michael Malice and is a shocking, addictive profile. Malice's quick mind and Ayn Rand-informed philosophies might make him an aggravating carpool partner, but Pekar and Dumm's depiction of his life story is nearly impossible to put down once you start reading it.

Pekar -- one of the Founding Fathers of autobiographical comics -- is next teaming up with artist Ed Piskor for a project titled Macedonia. From the preview I've seen, it looks to skew much closer to the delightful Ego and Hubris territory than to The Quitter. Piskor tells me the book is about a "girl [named] Heather Roberson [that he met] while he was promoting the [American Splendor] movie. Heather's family owns a theatre and she found herself in a conversation with Pekar talking about her college career. She studies peace and conflict studies at UC Berkeley and kept getting into debates with professors who explained to her that war is inevitable but she wasn't satisfied with their examples. She kept pointing out Macedonia in her arguments which a recipe for disaster with all of the different and disenfranchised ethnic groups trying to gain some basic and political status. She ended up going to the balkans to prepare her thesis and she took very detailed notes for Harvey to weave her story in comic book form."

You can view a generous selection of Macedonia preview pages at Piskor's website.


Sunday, May 28, 2006

Alex Toth -- As you may know by now, Alex Toth has died.

The image above represents not only one of my very favourite images of superheroes created in my lifetime, but one of the key images of my childhood. But back then it looked like this:

Either way it's a wonderful piece of art, but I do prefer to see the top version, with its unaltered Superman (I guess having him look more like an Alex Toth cartoon than the Curt Swan model that was standard at the time was considered too much of a change by the editors back then).

I just want to say thank you to one of the artists who made my childhood a joy, and who, in my adult years, I have come to realize is as vital and important a part of comics history as Jack Kirby, Bernard Krigstein, Gil Kane or Robert Crumb.

My deepest condolences to Alex Toth's family and friends.

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Friday, May 26, 2006

The Friday Briefing, with Bullet Points! -- And here they are:

That's all I have for you for now, but I may be back later, depending on the pace of the day.

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Thursday, May 25, 2006

CBR on Moore and Gebbie's Lost Girls -- Head over to Comic Book Resources for part one of a three-part interview covering the soon-to-be-released Lost Girls; see also my thoughts on this extraordinary graphic novel, which should be read by every adult who appreciates great works of comic art.


Two Great New Books From Fantagraphics -- Last night I read two new books, SCRUBLANDS by Joe Daly and INNOCENCE AND SEDUCTION: THE ART OF DAN DECARLO by Bill Morrison, both published by Fantagraphics Books.

SCRUBLANDS is a wonderful book of highly readable and entertaining comics by an African cartoonist seeing print in North America for the first time. I found it impossible to put the book down; it's funny, surreal, and quite beautiful. Daly is on my permanent list of creators I always read based on the strength of this one book.

INNOCENCE AND SEDUCTION is an unspeakably well-produced artbook that showcases the full spectrum of DeCarlo's artistic power from the very beginning to the end of his career. It's also a deeply moving memorial and biography. More comics creators should be given this sort of respect.

I know I'll be re-reading both of these volumes again and again. Two very different books, but both essential to anyone interested in where comics has been (DeCarlo), and what is still possible to achieve in the medium (Daly).


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

New Bryan Lee O'Malley Interview -- Comic Book Galaxy's Gordon McAlpin interviews Bryan Lee O'Malley, just in time for today's release of Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness. Go check it out!


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Scott Pilgrim 3 Tomorrow -- Don't forget to hit your local comic shop tomorrow, as it's the official release date of Scott Pilgrim and The Infinite Sadness, the third volume in the vastly entertaining series by creator Bryan Lee O'Malley.

If you somehow haven't yet experienced the charm and delights of the adventures of Scott, Wallace, Knives, Ramona and the gang, check out my reviews of Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.

The Scott Pilgrim series is just about the most energetic, entertaining funnybook series being published right now, so trust me when I tell you that if you haven't read it yet, you're missing out on a whole hell of a lot of fun.


Monday, May 22, 2006

Monday Evening Plans -- Rum, pizza, two hours of Jack Bauer kicking and 'sploding shit up real good.

It's like Christmas in May.


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Graphic Language -- A new all-star comics interview blog called Graphic Language enters the Comics Blogosphere. There is much cheering.

The blog is the work of excellent comics bloggers Ed Cunard, Kevin Church and Chris Tamarri; you may already be familiar with Ed's killer interview skills from his interview with Tom Spurgeon here at Comic Book Galaxy.

Looking forward to seeing what develops, guys!


New Groth Interview -- Book Forum interviews Fantagraphics publisher Gary Groth. Am I the only one who remembers Dalgoda?


Saturday, May 13, 2006

Fun Saturday Morning Reading -- Andrew Wheeler runs down the The 50 Best Marvel Characters; his descriptions of them are what make this piece so much fun.

The Kingpin: He's not fat, he's muscular, like a sumo wrestler! And he's not a gangster, he's a spice merchant! Yes, it's fat gangster Wilson Fisk, who crushes men's heads with his fat hammy hands.

Go read.


Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Butcher on A.I.L.E.E.E.N -- Over at comics.212.net, Christopher Butcher has committed to more frequent and substantive weekday blogging (improving what was already one of the best comics blogs around), and takes a long look at First Second's A.I.L.E.E.E.N. by Lewis Trondheim.

A book I strongly recommend, by the way it's one of the best and most beautiful of the company's six debut titles; a good chance to remind you Comic Book Galaxy is giving away First Second's debut set of six graphic novels. Sign up today!


Monday, May 08, 2006

Exceptional Clowes Interview -- Yeah, it's pimping Art School Confidential, but this CHUD.com interview with Dan Clowes is particularly entertaining and informative. Glad to hear that Ghodst World is still selling so well.


Sunday, May 07, 2006

The Prisoner Remake Gets Interesting -- I actually can't think of a better choice to play Number Six, if the remake has to go forward. Actually, I could get really excited about this. Details at Times Online.


Eddie Campbell at The Comics Reporter -- Tom Spurgeon talks to Eddie Campbell at The Comics Reporter, coinciding with the release of Campbell's excellent, expansive Fate of the Artist from First Second.


LOST GIRLS -- Having read an advance copy over the past few days, I can tell you LOST GIRLS is about as sacred and profane as comics can get, and an absolutely essential piece of Alan Moore work comparable to From Hell, Watchmen, Voice of the Fire, or whatever your personal favourite Alan Moore work happens to be.

Yes, it is pornographic in nature, but as Moore points out in a recent interview, no one is going to spend $75.00 on this book as jerk-off material; neither are any children likely to accidentally spend their allowances on it. LOST GIRLS is about the most thoughtful rumination on sexuality and fantasy as I have ever experienced (I was going to say "come across," but, well, you know...).

As I said in an e-mail to Top Shelf publishers Chris Staros and Brett Warnock, I am grateful to the both of them for having the courage to bring this work out, and the talent and experience to give it the presentation it deserves.

It features Moore utilizing his full creative power to explore the boundless joys of sex, and the darkest horrors that can come to be associated with it. It's an unblinking, unblinkered insight into human nature, lyrical and passionate, and Gebbie's artwork is a match for Moore's script; lovely, frank and poetic.

There are more Alan Moore books in my graphic novel library than any other single creator, and I'm delighted to add this monumental release to my collection. LOST GIRLS is one of the most important graphic novels yet created, one that will move its readers and very likely would make the world a better place if every adult could lose themselves in its pages and absorb the message of kindness, tolerance and decency that Moore and Gebbie infuse in every page.

The world is a very dark place, as any thinking person knows -- but it doesn't have to be that way. And Moore and Gebbie's LOST GIRLS points the way to dissipating the darkness by embracing who we are, and who we could be. By loving ourselves, and others, and understanding that we all need much the same things, no matter how badly those who seek to control our lives would like to make us believe otherwise.

Learn more about LOST GIRLS at Top Shelf Productions; Comicscape interviews Alan Moore: Part One and Part Two -- thanks, Derik!


Free Comic Book Day 2006 -- This year was a bit more subdued for my family than in past years, due to the fact that my wife has been working some brutal overtime shifts, which intruded into our weekend and prevented her from coming along. The kids really wanted to be at Earthworld Comics in Albany, though, because as usual JC and the crew had some big-name superheroes in-store, Supergirl and Storm. Additionally, comic artist John Hebert was signing and sketching, and early reports say the store was packed from open to close. JC will have a full wrap-up later this week (I think) in his Back Page column here at Comic Book Galaxy.

We almost always bring along as many extra friends and family members as we can, and this year in addition to myself, daughter Kira and son Aaron, the guest was Aaron's classmate and best pal Noah. Noah came prepared, wearing a Superman t-shirt and sitting in the backseat with Aaron making up stories about their own superheroes they've created, all the way down to Albany, and most of the way back (when they weren't wrapped up in the FCBD books they scored).

Noah met with near-tragedy when he chose a back-issue of Aquaman to buy with money his parents had given him to spend at the shop (his first visit to a comic book store), but somehow between buying it and our eventual exit of the store, he misplaced the comic. Luckily the gang at the shop found it and set it aside, so I'll grab it for him next weekend, most likely.

I don't want FCBD to have to stand or fall on its coincidental timing with the release of a major superhero movie, but I did think later that most years we have made whatever movie that was part of our FCBD plans; no superhero movie this weekend, though, so we didn't go to the movies after the comic shop. Now that I think about it, I wonder if Hollywood will note the decline in ticket sales compared to previous Free Comic Book Days? Yes, I am kidding...kind of.

The only comic that came out on Wednesday this week that I was at all excited about was Love and Rockets; the new issue was a lot of fun, having some very solid Jaime AND Gilbert contributions, and a great cover that coinclidentally was appropriate for FCBD, with a superhero nerd partying in a Superman shirt and Batman mask. He even appears in a story within the book (amusingly nicknamed "World's Finest" with virtually no other explanation -- because none is needed), so, yeah, truth in advertising.

As far as the actual FCBD books, JC had hooked me up with a complete set a couple of weeks back, but I unfortunately didn't find the time to write anything about them. The best release as far as I am concerned was Free Scott Pilgrim; it's free, and it has a new story featuring some of the most fun and exciting characters in comics right now. What more could you want? I'm dying here, waiting for Vol. 3 of the series to be released, so the FCBD release came along just at the right time.

So, all in all, a good Free Comic Book Day for me and the kids. I hope you had a good one, too.


Friday, May 05, 2006

Thought for the Day -- The conclusion of Infinite Crisis must be accepted by all rational observers as definitive proof that Geoff Johns is, without doubt, the Rob Liefeld of writers.

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Thursday, May 04, 2006

Clowes Interviewed at Newsarama -- The countdown to his new movie in on...check out the Newsarama interview with Art School Confidential's Dan Clowes. You can keep your X-Men 3 and Superman 5, ASC is THE funnybook movie of the year, as far as I am concerned. Can't wait to see it.


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Greatest Day of the Year So Far -- That was decided by 12:30 PM, when I had gotten to my local record store (yes, I am old and still call them that) and picked up the new Tool CD, 10,000 Days.

It's a weird package with little goggles attached so you can look at some typically odd art in the attached booklet; I suppose I'll go through it once, but whatever 3-D effect they are going for, it doesn't seem to work for me. Maybe it's my astigmatism.

But I have an official copy of the CD, and that made my day, and my year. I just fucking love the music this band (and its kissing cousin A Perfect Circle) makes.



I get home and there's a GIANT FREAKING BOX from Top Shelf Productions. Inside, a very nice, personalized note from publisher Chris Staros and Brett Warnock (two of The Nicest People in Comics), introducing the contents of the box.

Which is a complete galley of LOST GIRLS, the forthcoming gigantic slipcased graphic novel set by Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie.

Some days it's really good to be alive, and this is one of them. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go listen to Tool and read this GIANT FREAKING BOOK.


Sex Scandal Revelations and Bad Web Practices -- Courtesy of Johanna, news that The Comics Journal has revealed the name of the man accused in a recent alleged sex scandal; this involves the incident that led Friends of Lulu to create an empowerment fund for women who have been sexually harassed within the comics industry (that's my possibly-simplistic take on the fund, you may find more nuance here, another link courtesy of Johanna, who has a whole raft of links relating to this story).

It seems like a fairly balanced piece, the Journal's coverage, covering both Brownstein's alleged wrongdoing and the somewhat stumbling manner in which the Lulu empowerment fund came together (it remains to be seen if it will be a longterm force for good in the industry; although it seems fueled by good intentions, we all know where that road often leads). But given the long history of alleged sexual harassment incidents in the industry, this is a story worth pointing out and one well worth following.

I don't care for the Journal's note at the end of their story, though, that the full version of it will be gutted once the print version is out there. This is too important a story to play "Hey, go buy the magazine" with; presumably that's why they put it up so quickly in the first place, and in the interests of history and good journalism, it should stay up in full. It's not like anyone is not going to buy the next issue of The Journal if the story remains up, where it belongs, for all to see, for as long as it possibly can.

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