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Friday, December 28, 2007

Looking Ahead to 2008 -- Here's some stuff I am looking forward to in the year ahead...

* STRANGE AND STRANGER: THE WORLD OF STEVE DITKO by Blake Bell (Fantagraphics). If The Amazing Spider-Man Omnibus and the BBC Search for Steve Ditko special haven't convinced you the time is NOW for Ditko analysis and appreciation, I can't help you.

* B. KRIGSTEIN VOL. 2 by Greg Sadowski (Fantagraphics). Sadowski's earlier volumes (Vol. 1 and B. Krigstein Comics) are among the most treasured volumes in my library of graphic novels; I continue to see Krigstein as the visionary in the history of comic art, with anyone else you can mention a distant second at best. I cannot wait to read this concluding volume in Sadowski's lush, comprehensive biography.

* THE COLLECTED COLD HEAT by Frank Santoro and Ben Jones (Picturebox). The slow death of the comics pamphlet claimed this visionary series before it could reach its conclusion, but the year ahead should see the story finished and collected in 2008. And since it's a Picturebox production, the physical book itself should be as much a work of art as the comics contained within.

* KIRBY: KING OF COMICS by Mark Evanier (Abrams). Given Evanier's lifelong association with and love for Jack Kirby, this won't be the definitive, objective biography that Kirby's life demands, but it will still be required reading for any student of comic art and should be a blast to read.

* NEW FRONTIER SPECIAL by Darwyn Cooke (DC). If this isn't the best superhero comic DC releases in 2008, then it will be one of the final issues of Morrison and Quitely's All Star Superman, I would think, because that's about all they have going for them at the moment...

* UPDATED -- Here are a few more to add to the list...

* COMICS AS ART: WE TOLD YOU SO by Tom Spurgeon and Jacob Covey (Fantagraphics). The definitive history of the most significant and entertaining North American comic book publisher in history.

* THE EDUCATION OF HOPEY GLASS, THE TROUBLEMAKERS and AMOR Y COHETES by Los Bros Hernandez (Fantagraphics). Three collections/graphic novels by Los Bros; as always, must-reading.

* ALL-STAR SUPERMAN and JLA DELUXE VOL. 1 by Grant Morrison, Frank Quitely, Howard Porter, et al (DC Comics). As noted above, current-era DC Universe superhero stories are mostly unreadable fan-servicing junk at the moment, but All-Star Superman is the exception, and the new collected hardcovers of Morrison's key 1990s JLA stories just further go to prove the point that the company's seen far, far better creative days.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Frank Santoro's Comics Reporter Interview -- Apparently Tom Spurgeon's Comics Reporter is having some technical problems...and I really want you to read that interview with Frank Santoro that I mentioned a few days ago. Luckily, Tom Spurgeon's interview with Frank Santoro is also available at Comics Comics.

And hey, so is the Tim Hodler interview. If you have some time off this week, kick back and enjoy these two very good interviews with two key figures in the current era of excellent comics.

Boxing Day -- Here's my annual salute to my favourite day of the holiday season.

Twas the night before Boxing Day, and all through my home
My wife and my children begged me to leave it alone.

"Boxing Day is dumb," Aaron said, with disgust
It was something, I fear, that we'd often discussed.

Kira and Lora had no interest at all
Even though on Boxing Day you can go to the mall.

On Christmas, On Thanksgiving, on Easter you can't
"But Boxing Day is different," I said, and started to rant.

It's a fun holiday, filled with laughter and joy
Yet I could generate no interest in my girl, or my boy.

"It's the day after Christmas," I said, "A day for bacchanalia!"
Celebrated primarily in Canada, New Zealand and Australia.

My daughter rolled her eyes and called out to her mom
For she knew that Boxing Day, to my wife, was also a bomb.

I could get no support, no one wanted to cheer
As I waited anxiously for Boxing Day to appear.

Boxing Day originated in England in the mid-nineteenth century
But the only one joyous in my house is me.

While boxes were once filled with gifts for the servants
I feared, once again, I'd have a solitary observance.

Something about the day just appeals to my sense of the contrary
As I sit amid the havoc of Christmas and sauce made of cranberry.

So enjoy your Christmas, your tree and your presents
I'll wait for Boxing Day, it's my favourite day of the year...is what I think this poem meant.

Happy Boxing Day!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Strange Whine: A Holiday Gift -- Strange Whine is an e-book that I worked on for much of 2007, and never quite felt like it was finished to my satisfaction. So in the spirit of re-gifting, I'm fobbing it off on you, insert smiley-face emoticon here.

What it is is a collection of my essays and reviews in PDF format for easy printing-out or reading on your screen at your convenience. If you do download it, I'd love any feedback you might want to offer. And if you do download it, I hope you get some enjoyment out of it.

Download Strange Whine by Alan David Doane.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

First Thought of the Day -- I really miss Dirk. I hope he's enjoying his vacation, but man, I really need me some high-quality comics blogging.

Second Thought of the Day -- Thank God for Tom Spurgeon. His holiday interview series continues today with Frank Santoro in the spotlight. If you don't know who Santoro is, you should. His Cold Heat with Ben Jones, and new hardcover Storeyville (collecting a '90s comic in a new format) are some of the best-looking and most exciting comics in years. And Santoro's Incanto blew my mind with how good it was.


Friday, December 21, 2007

The Good Sun -- The late writer Tom Nattell had a wonderful essay on the Winter Solstice published in Albany, New York's Metroland a few years back. Late tonight (actually early Saturday morning) at 1:08 AM Eastern Time we welcome the beginning of another year's journey around the sun.

In remembrance of a great writer, and to welcome in the astronomical new year, I want to share this with you.
In the ritual celebrations associated with the winter solstice, the return of the sun is often of paramount concern. The sun is associated with light and life. The tradition of special activities around this time of year to insure the sun’s return appears to go back far into human prehistory. With the dependence of our species on plant and animal life that follow certain cycles with the seasons, it is likely that the mysteries of the solar cycle were appreciated early in the evolution of human consciousness. These festivities and rituals also brought people together, strengthening social bonds that may have been (and for many still are) critical for the individual to mentally and physically survive winter’s onslaught.
Read the full essay in the link above, and may this year's Winter Solstice mark the beginning of a new year for you filled with peace, prosperity and happiness.


You Got to Know When to Hodler -- Tom Spurgeon's interview with comics critic Tim Hodler is good, crunchy fun from start to finish. Hodler's taste in comics is exquisite, and Tom draws him out wonderfully well on topics ranging from Hodler's contributions to Comics Comics, to what he thought was great in comics this year. Required reading.


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Quote of the Day -- DC Presnit and Publisher Paul Levitz, speaking to Newsarama's Matt Brady on the state of the industry:
"My suspicion is that there are probably more people reading graphic novels today than there are reading periodical comics."


Monday, December 17, 2007

Quote of the Day -- From Tom Spurgeon's interview with Jason Thompson, author of Manga: The Complete Guide, up today at The Comics Reporter:
Manga has rejuvenated -- or really, created -- the American comics market for children and teenagers. It's been such a sweeping transformation that I can understand if Marvel and DC, and indeed anyone who doesn't associate themselves with "manga," is freaked out.

The Monday Briefing -- A quiet weekend was spent mostly at home, resisting the urge to brave the snowstorm that left over a foot of snow in our region. And winter? Not even officially here yet. Good Lord, Choke! My friend Tim came over Saturday afternoon and we spent a couple of fun hours watching shows he'd never seen before, specifically the pilots of Firefly and The Larry Sanders Show. We had tried earlier in the day to find some movies to rent, but nothing seemed worth picking up...anyway:

* A couple of very good recent comics related interviews: Tom Spurgeon talks to Joe Sacco about the new hardcover Palestine collection; Brian Warmoth speaks with James Kochalka about the American Elf makeover.

* Chris Allen reviews some recent releases, and even finds a kind word to say about the Spider-Man Clone Saga when considering 500+ issues of Amazing Spider-Man.

* Oh, look -- DC is publishing a new Darwyn Cooke New Frontier one-shot (link via The Beaucoup One). I knew sooner or later DC'd publish another comic I would want to read.

* Speaking of stuff I want to read, Fantagraphics has sent out their Spring/Summer 2008 book trade catalog, and man, there's some juicy stuff in there. A 7th and (for now) final Love and Rockets trade in the recent "manga-size" (as they call it) format , Blake Bell's promising Steve Ditko hardcover, and most excitingly of all, B. Krigstein Vol. 2, the conclusion of Greg Sadowski's art book/biography. The first volume is one of my favourite books of all time, so I am looking very much forward to picking up where B. Krigstein Vol. 1 left off.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Brian Lynch's A Simulated Christmas -- The following comic strip first appeared on Comic Book Galaxy years ago, and was instantly loved by pretty much everyone that read it. Brian contacted me earlier this week and asked if I'd be interested in reviving the tradition. Hell, yes! I responded, in the best spirit of the holidays. Click each page to see the full-size image, and enjoy the hell out of Brian Lynch's A Simulated Christmas.

A Simulated Christmas Copyright (C) Brian Lynch, Characters Copyright (C) and Trademark (TM) DC Comics

A Simulated Christmas Copyright (C) Brian Lynch, Characters Copyright (C) and Trademark (TM) DC Comics

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Monday Briefing -- Thanks to everyone who sent a "get well soon" message after I sprained my wrist last weekend -- it's still sore and a bit stiff, but getting better every day.

* Congratulations to James and Amy Kochalka on the birth of their second son. Oliver Kochalka's welcome to the world happens at the same time that James has completely overhauled his American Elf website and made much more content free for everyone who stops by (and with new enticements for subscribers). Kochalka says the move was an immediate success: "On Thanksgiving, our second son, Oliver Jonco Kochalka was born. Exactly two weeks later on the evening of Thursday, December 6th, we launched the redesign of American Elf. The news of the change spread. My readership went from about 270 unique users on Wednesday...to about 200,000 or so on Friday. Page views were well in excess of 700,000!" See? Information really does want to be free. Or something like that.

* I read Jim Munroe and Salgood Sam's new Therefore Repent graphic novel over the weekend. You may recall I was blown away by Salgood's RevolveR #1 (and remain on high alert waiting for the second issue). Salgood Sam's art is every bit as accomplished in Therefore Repent as one might expect, but the story about a post-Rapture society dealing with the aftermath of 144,000 believers ascending to the heavens never really engaged my attention. I got all the way through the book, and I understand the plot, but that's the most I can say for the story. Salgood Sam draws the hell out of the whole thing, and I wish I had been more immersed in the story, but despite the obvious care taken in putting it together, it just didn't work for me.

* Something else that didn't work for me was the most recent issue of Grant Morrison's Batman. I'd been more or less enjoying the title the past few months -- the three-issue arc illustrated by JH Williams had a lot of the genius Morrison injected into his JLA work -- but the way the Ra's al Ghul crossover is intruding into the one Batman title I am still reading is enormously off-putting. Rather than conning me into picking up every Bat-title, DC has me thinking of just dropping Batman from my pull list. And believe me, there's not much DC left on there anyway.

* In fact, here's what is on my pull list as of this month (titles with an asterisk I get for my kids):

All-Star Superman
Bart Simpson Comics*
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8
Comics Journal
Franklin Richards*
Futurama Comics*
Love & Rockets
Marvel Zombies 2
Punisher MAX
Scott Pilgrim
Simpsons Comics*
Simpsons Classics*
Teen Titans Go*
Teen Titans Year One*

I'm dropping The Spirit after #12 because I'm not interested in the post-Darwyn Cooke series; Planetary has one issue to go, and Christ only knows when it will appear. Even I am shocked to see that leaves All-Star Superman and the currently aggravating Batman on my DC reading list. But I see what Tom Spurgeon had to say about one DC title (Salvation Run #1) yesterday as applying to virtually the entire output of the company these days: "There's a sadness and pathetic quality to this comic's existence that I'm unable to communicate in words, as despite liking many of the creators I could never shake my first reaction: 'It's come to this?'"

It sure has, Tom. It sure has.


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Health Update -- Sprained my wrist Saturday night. Typing lefty. Not fun. I'll be back when I can type right. Thanks for your patience...





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