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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Wizard on The Boys -- Click over to Wizard (there's a phrase you don't see around here much) for a brief interview with Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson about The Boys, which arrives in stores today in the form of a graphic novel collecting the first six issues and a new #7, so you can get all caught up at once courtesy of new publisher Dynamite Entertainment.

I've enjoyed the entire series to date, but #7 is particularly delicious, inventing a somewhat new and different problem for a superhero to suffer from. It's great, perverse stuff.

I had already read the original issues collected in Vol. 1, but the Simon Pegg intro and especially the sketchbook section in the back make it worth a look whether you're new to the series or not.


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Pressing Issues of the Day -- Weighing in on recent kerfuffles in the comics blogosphere...

#1: Johanna is Right -- A lack of diversity is why superhero comics don't matter anymore. A lack of diversity in creators, storylines, characters, and readers. A lack of diversity is why Manga has made the inroads that it has in the past decade, and the people up in arms about what Johanna had to say about diversity would know that if they paid attention to the real-world readership of comics as a whole rather than the inbred, moronic discussions at the superhero convenience stores whose days are numbered across North America.

#2: Tentacle Rape -- I looked and looked, on CNN.com and elsewhere, and could find no news coverage whatsoever of anyone or anything with tentacles raping anybody, anywhere, with their tentacles or anything else. Perhaps those upset by this imaginary scourge would do well to read point #1, above.

#3: San Diego Comicon -- As usual, Tom Spurgeon has a great guide to the San Diego Comicon. My plans in two words: Not going. As usual. Oops, that's four words.


The Boys Are Back -- If, like me, you enjoyed Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson's The Boys until DC/Wildstorm unceremoniously (not to say petulantly) pulled the plug, issue #7 arrives in stores this week from new and more visionary publisher Dynamite Entertainment. Do keep an eye out, and remember that this week, in the U.S. at least, comics will arrive in stores one day late due to the Memorial Day holiday.


Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Long Holiday Weekend -- I dearly love three-day weekends, and another one of them has descended upon These United States even as I type this. Of course, an "Air Stagnation Warning" kicked it all off yesterday, something I'd never heard of and no one else I talked to had either...but I am sure with the state of the environment, we can look forward to many new and unfamiliar warnings in the years and decades ahead.

Hmm, that seems bleak for someone starting off three days off. Let me try a little harder:

Hey, everybody! Hope you have a fantastic weekend, and that YOU may perhaps be work-free for an extra day as well.

Happy Belated Birthday yesterday to BWS, and Happy Timely Birthday today to James Kochalka and Herb Trimpe. And thanks as always to Tom Spurgeon, who obviously has a much better system for keeping track of important information than I do.

And tomorrow? Tomorrow is my 14th wedding anniversary. Phew, and they said it wouldn't last! (Well, SHE said it wouldn't last, or she hoped it wouldn't, or, you know, something like that.) I'd say "Happy anniversary, honey" but she never reads my blog. But happy anniversary, honey, just the same.

Speaking of anniversaries, the fifth one of this here blog is coming up. Yet another reason to get back in b-i-bidness. I do have to get to the funnybook store today to pick up my weekly haul -- as well as run to the bank, get a haircut, pick up my daughter from her sleepover, and other stuff. So, I'm'a go do that. You have a good weekend and I'll see you back here early next week. Deal?


Friday, May 25, 2007

Please Release -- A few years ago, an excellent self-published alt-comix title called Walkie Talkie impressed the hell out of me with its attention to craft and devotion to setting a mood in its individual stories. It lasted four issues, and I wish I had raved more about it at the time. Consider this an apology.

Walkie Talkie's creator was Nate Powell, who has now created a tighter and even more appealing anthology of four short stories called Please Release, published by Top Shelf. All the stories take place during a period from 2002-2005 in which Powell, working as support staff for people with developmental disabilities, seems to be struggling with two goals. One, to be an ethical force for the betterment of the people under his care, and two, to determine his place in the world (the world of comics, and just, the world) as he enters early middle age, a period he sharply brings into focus when he says (quoting song lyrics, I think -- there's a lot of that mostly to good effect) "I never felt brand new, just half-done and one-third through." It's a mindset I think most adults who've emerged alive from the hot flush of adolesence are familiar with, wondering what the passions of youth and early adulthood will be replaced with, fearing the answer is "nothing much."

Not all the stories focus directly on Powell's support staff role, although the sense of dignity and thoughtfulness he brings to the job informs every panel in the book. Walkie Talkie was the work of a younger man, and though both young and somewhat-older Nate define themselves by a punk aesthetic, in Please Release, Powell is found reflecting on the use of that definition as boundary markers for his own existence, not so much questioning its usefullness as its shelf-life, or at least its half-life. The artwork is uniformly striking, both loose and highly focused, staking out territory intersecting somewhere in the lovingly illustrative neighbourhood of Farel Dalrymple and Jim Rugg.

So, yeah, Nate Powell as depicted in his own comics is a reflective guy, and Christ knows right now the world needs more people asking themselves questions about their own motives, deeds and ultimate goals. Society -- the one I live in, anyway -- has come to be defined not by the good deeds you do, but by how many people you can convince that your deeds are good, despite their blatant harm to others, and to the world. Powell spends his time in these four elegant, meandering stories trying to be better, trying to help, trying to share. In fact, counseling a troubled young man upset by a relative's illness, Powell says others "have felt the same things as you, that's why sharing is important." Another symptom of the sickness so rampant in my part of the world right now is the demonizing of others, the shutting down of sharing and the opportunistic destruction of those who've been demonized and marginalized and made other. So I'd guess at the very top of my country's food-chain, humanistic storytellers like Nate Powell would be defined as dangerous, if not outright "enemy combatants" in a war of lies against our fellow humans.

Powell comes off as decent in Please Release, and we currently live in indecent and obscene times. All the more reason to read Please Release and listen to what Powell is trying to tell us. Pass on what you've learned, cherish human dignity, and from time to time luxuriate in the wonder that comes with being more fully alive.


Monday, May 21, 2007

Welcome to the World, Logan! -- Big, BIG congrats to Chris Hunter and (increasingly populated!) family. Chris, as you may know, was CBG's webmaster a couple years back (and a damned good one, at that), and he has become a dad once again. Lots of great pix in the link!


Maybe I'm Vague -- Despite the interpretations of a couple of my favourite bloggers (hi, Chris and Bill!), I swear my recent "Where I'm At" post was an explanation of how I am trying to resume regular blogging here, NOT quitting again. That trick NEVER works!


Jenna Fischer -- There's no more radiant or talented actress on TV right now than Jenna Fischer, so I was saddened to learn she'd been injured in a fall.

It's safe to say that Jenna's character Pam on The Office is just about the favourite character on the show of everyone I know, certainly of everyone at my house. Best wishes for a speedy and complete recovery, Jenna.


Friday, May 18, 2007

Recommended Reading, Comics Foundry and Cold Heat -- I was hoping some folks would at least read what I had to say in the previous post, but it's wonderful to read the comments people have posted. Thanks, everyone, sincerely.

And for anyone who may be wondering what I am reading and enjoying these days...

* Garth Ennis's PUNISHER MAX and...
* Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips's CRIMINAL. -- The two best things Marvel is publishing right now. Both crime books, both created with a sense of wit, style and intelligence that is altogether lacking in corporate superhero comics at the moment. And while the rotating artists on Punisher vary in quality, Criminal's look, courtesy of artist Sean Phillips and colourist Val Staples, is visually arresting each and every issue. The graphic novel collecting the first five issues has just been released, too, so make sure you pick it up.

* John Porcellino's KING CAT CLASSIX. -- Honestly some of the flights of fancy and dream comics in this thick hardcover from D&Q don't do it for me, but the honesty and emotion evoked by Porcellino's autobiographical material more than makes this must-reading. It's comics for the ages, and belongs in the library of anyone who loves comics as an artform and wants to explore the outer edges of what is possible in words and pictures.

* THE COMICS JOURNAL. -- I've been telling people to read TCJ since I started writing about comics, so this is no surprise. But the magazine continues to be a highlight of my comics-related reading. There was a long stretch of years back in the late '80s and early '90s where the ONLY thing I bought in a comics shop was The Journal, and even after nearly 30 years of reading it, I still can't imagine ever getting tired of its excellent comics coverage.

* Craig Yoe's ARF FORUM. -- The third volume in Craig Yoe's exploration of the intersection of comics and art, from Fantagraphics. Joy and wonder on every page.

Also, while I have your attention...

I notice that the latest Diamond controversy is the monopolistic distributor's decision not to carry a print edition of the defunct online comics magazine Comics Foundry. Most people seem to want Diamond to carry the magazine, and while I am sympathetic to the idea that Diamond should let the marketplace determine the viability of publications like this, I have to say that I'm more or less in Diamond's camp. Prime Mover Tim Leong is clearly a YouTube whiz and has tons of energy and enthusiasm, but that never translated to a cohesive or even very entertaining online iteration of the CF idea. I doubt in print it would be any better. Leong seems to me to be another in the never-endiong line of people who REALLY, REALLY want to say something to comics readers, and yet really have nothing much to say once they get the chance. If this weren't the case, the CF online magazine would have been a lot more popular than it was.

On the other hand, on a related matter, Tom Spurgeon has reported that Cold Heat has suspended floppy publication after four issues and will be released instead as a graphic novel once it's completed. Diamond had originally declined to carry publisher Picturebox's publications. I'm sorry I won't have more Cold Heat coming to me on a regular basis, because it is surreal but high-quality comics fun. But in the current reality, a graphic novel makes much more sense. Floppy comics are not a dying medium, they are a dead one, with only loyal comics-shop zombies keeping the corpse animated. No one will ever remember the four issues of Cold Heat that were released, but if the rest of the story holds up, the graphic novel may very well still be inspiring awe and wonder a century from now.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Where I'm At -- It's been nearly two years since the ill-fated launch of "The New Comic Book Galaxy," and while my posting here has been pretty limited the past few months, the site is never far from my mind. Other than my kids, it's probably the most rewarding thing I've ever been involved in, and if anyone is even still reading this, believe me, I really regret that the site has not managed to regain any momentum in calendar year 2007.

This came to mind this morning for a couple of reasons...firstly, I realized that the site's seventh anniversary is this September, and it hit me how unexciting that prospect is to me, and likely anyone else, because of the slow petering out of the vitality that once resided here. Second, one of the columns slated for "The New CBG" back in '05 was a series of pieces on the now-defunct but much-missed Albany, NY comics shop/indy publisher FantaCo. Former FantaCo employee Roger Green was to have written the columns for the new version of this site, but that never came to pass for one reason or another. He mentions that in passing in this terrific remembrance of the Counterfeit Cerebus incident at FantaCo (and other shops) in the 1980s. I was really looking forward to Roger's FantaCo columns, and even though they never materialized, I still read his blog daily and love his personal, intimate writing.

But it never quite made it to Comic Book Galaxy, and soon after "The New CBG" launched, things started going wrong and a lot of momentum was lost. I don't know if I could have somehow prevented it, if so, I apologize. As I say, I feel the absence of a vital, alive Comic Book Galaxy as much as anyone.

For months I have told myself I will somehow get it back together, the magical combination of inspiration, vision, passion, fascination and free time. Oh, and, money. That's always an issue, isn't it?

My passion for comics is as strong as ever, I promise you. But everything else has been lacking, and to be totally honest, I can't see any light at the end of this particular tunnel. A number of factors suggest themselves as contributing causes.

* I write all day for money. This is a big part of the inertia that has settled in. I just don't feel like writing about anything by the time I get home in the evening, and even if I did, the kids expect dinner and help with their homework and sudddenly it's 9 PM and damn, yawn, tomorrow's another day.

* The sense of urgency I felt when CBG was created in 2000 has diminished. This is actually quite a good thing, in my opinion. Back in the days when Marvel and DC could still be called "mainstream comics" without sneer quotes around the term, artcomix -- you know, the good, worthwhile comics published by folks like Fantagraphics, Drawn and Quarterly, Top Shelf, Pantheon, First Second, etc. -- needed help. I'd like to think Comic Book Galaxy was at least in some small way a participant in the total revolution that has occurred in the comics artform in the past few years. I don't know that we need to push as hard as we used to, I think the tipping point has passed, maybe around the time Time named Fun Home the book of the year, correctly. But seriously, it seems like a lot of the work I thought we were doing has come to fruition, all to the betterment of good comics.

That all said, man, I miss being "Alan David Doane: Comics Blogger." If you loved or hated this blog in its heyday, there's no denying it was a blast to write, and I appreciate every reader who read what I had to say, especially those who found actual value in my opinions from time to time. Believe it or not, I still have opinions, and I still want to share them with anyone who wants to know what I think, but after all of the above, I really am left kind of scratching my head wondering how to recreate this blog so that it still in any way matters in a world where Dirk, Tom, Johanna and a select few others really have good blog writing about comics kind of all sewn up. And I don't bother to read the shitty or otherwise aggravating blogs anymore, because really, I'm 41 years old and who has the time to spare for that sort of obnoxiousness?

When I started this blog post, I thought maybe I would come to some sort of conclusion about the fate of Comic Book Galaxy. I haven't, really, but it's been kind of a relief to share with you -- whoever you may be -- what has been going on and where I am at, vis a vis comics and this website. The one thing that I have learned while talking to you (myself, really, but you know what I mean) is that a new approach is called for. None of the old methods seem to be working for me anymore. I miss having a dialogue with comics readers, and more importantly I miss having a dialogue with comics. So I can promise you that I am thinking about how to renew that public love affair, but, I'm not promising dinner and a movie, not just yet.


Monday, May 07, 2007

Monday Meanderings -- Since last Thursday I have seen Spider-Man 3 twice and I have to say, it's probably the best film of the three. Even having three villains (four if you count a certain one-armed scientist), it all flowed together well, and the special effects blew away any other superhero movie I've seen.

Also, Tony Millionaire sent along a pilot DVD screener for "The Drinky Crow Show," which I think will air on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. It is everything Maakies fans love, and more. Must-See TV, indeed. Don't miss it!


Thursday, May 03, 2007

Free Comic Book Day 2007 -- This has already been the busiest Free Comic Book Day I've experienced, and it's not even here yet. (It's Saturday, May 5th, FYI).

A few months ago I was thinking about how the radio station I work for could get involved with FCBD, and put together a proposal for a promotion that would include prize giveaways and a live broadcast on the day. To my delight, the radio station was behind the idea 110%, and fully half of the comic book stores in our region signed up to be a part of the promotion.

So for the past few weeks I've been working with folks at the station and with participating comic shop owners on putting together prize packages and, most exciting for me, scheduling our live broadcast this Saturday afternoon. I'll be live from Comic Depot in Greenfield Center, inviting listeners to stop by and pick up their free books and register to win free graphic novels and other prizes from a ton of great publishers, like Image Comics, Top Shelf, Dynamite Entertainment, Dark Horse, Fantagraphics, Top Cow and others. You can get details about FCBD at Comic Depot by going to the Comic Depot FCBD page.

Darren at Comic Depot was kind enough to set aside a set of FCBD books for me, which I went through last night. I wasn't able to read every page of every one, but I have to say that DC and Marvel seem to have made cannier choices for their free offerings than in years past. Marvel's Spider-Man freebie is new material by solid creators, but unfortunately is tied into current, godawful Marvel Universe continuity. So, a good effort, but as a reader I found the story (and the current state of both Marvel and DC's collective universes) very disappointing.

DC's freebie is a reprint of the first issue of their Legion cartoon adaptation, and that should go over well with kids on FCBD, although as Johanna noted, a lot more story and a lot less introductory material would have made the issue a lot more compelling and much better served its purpose, which of course is to get readers to come back for more on the regular monthly title.

There seemed to be quite a few quite awful FCBD offerings by folks you've never heard of, and probably never will. It never ceases to amaze me the number of people who can come up with the cash to print their own comics, and yet never really stop to evaluate whether those comics are at all worth publishing.

That aside, though, Free Comic Book Day is always a great opportunity to get out and support your local comic shop, and pick up some free comics in the bargain. Make sure you bring as many non-comics readers as will fit in your car/truck/mini-van/stolen city bus, and find a comic shop near you right here.

I hope everyone has a fantastic Free Comic Book Day!

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