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Monday, May 26, 2008

 
UPDATED: ADD's Summer Funding Comics Sale -- Here's a batch of funnybooks, graphic novels and DVDs I have available for sale, in the hopes of raising some cash for my family's summer plans. Drop me an email if you see anything on here you're interested in. US readers only for this, I'm afraid, but all listed prices include postage. Minimum order $10.00. Please note I do not use Paypal anymore, so if you're buying, I'll need a check or (preferably) money order.

Note: I posted an earlier version of this list last week, but there's a ton of stuff added to it, so take a look and see if there's anything you need.

UPDATED Thursday, 10:30 AM, 6/5/08

Outstanding bargains are in boldface.

Many thanks to Jog, Roger, Scott, Brian, Dick, and everyone that's help spread the word!

Comics

Albion #1-6 (ABC) - $4.00
Art Adams Set: Monkeyman and O'Brien #1-3, Monkeyman and O'Brien Special, Art Adams' Creature Features graphic novel (Dark Horse) - $9.00
Bastard Samurai #1 (Oeming; Image) - $1.00
Batman: Our Worlds at War Special (Brubaker; DC) - $1.00
Belly Button Comix #1-2 (Sophie Crumb; Fantagraphics) - $4.00
Black Heart Irregulars #1-2 - $1.00
Death and Candy #1-3 (Fantagraphics) - $3.00
Deathblow: Byblows #1-3 (Alan Moore; Wildstorm) - $1.00
Fred the Clown #2-5 (Langridge) - $4.00
Hellboy Weird Tales #1-8 (Dark Horse) - $8.00
Lone Ranger Director's Cut #1 (Dynamite) - $1.00
Majestic #1-4 (Abnett/Lanning; DC) - $3.00
Promethea #13-32 (Moore; ABC) - $12.00
Punisher Max Annual #1 - $1.00
Raise The Dead #1 (Dynamite) - $1.00
Stormwatch #48-50 (Ellis, complete Change or Die arc) - $3.00
Stormwatch Vol. 1 #0, 1-36, Special #1-2 and Stormwatch Art Portfolio (Wildstorm) - $14.00
Stormwatch Vol. 2 #11 and Wildcats vs. Aliens (end of Stormwatch; Ellis) - $3.00
Stormwatch PHD #1-2 (DC/Wildstorm) - $1.00
Street Angel #1, SLG FBCD w/ Street Angel story, and original mini-comic #1 - $4.00
Streets of Glory Preview, #1-2 (Ennis; Avatar) - $2.00
Stupid Comics #3 (Mahfood; Image) - $1.00
Team One Wildcats #1-2 (Wildstorm) - $1.00
Thunderbolts #110 (Ellis; Marvel) - $1.00
Tom Strong #1, 3, 8, 9, 12, 15-36 (Moore; ABC) - $16.00
Ultimate Extinction #1-6 (Ellis; Marvel) - $4.00
Ultimate War #1-4 (Millar; Marvel) - $2.00
Unfunnies, The #1-2 (Millar; Avatar) - $1.00
Vimanarama #1-3 (Morrison; Vertigo) - $3.00

Graphic Novels

Freddie and Me (Mike Dawson; Bloomsbury) - $8.00
Price of Persia GN (Advanced reader's copy; First Second) - $5.00
Three Shadows (First Second) - $7.00
Yuggoth Cultures (Alan Moore; Avatar) - $15.00

If you're interested in anything on this list, email me and we'll work out the details. Thanks.

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Sunday, May 25, 2008

 
Gary Groth Explains Why I Love Comics -- Or, conversely, you could look at this quote (from an interview at Newsarama) as a great example of why "superhero fans" actually don't like comics, despite the fact that the artform is the delivery system for their drug of choice.
"[W]hat I look for is an interpretation of the world, using all the tools and tricks and vocabulary of the medium to most imaginative advantage. The canvas can be minute and interior -- as in Jonathan Bennett's work -- or vast and politicized -- as in Tom Kaczynski's stories. What's important is that the artist has a take on the world, realized with a degree of artistry. And that's different in kind than merely explicating or describing or transcribing the world as he sees it or understands it — it's different than journalism or sociology -- because the imagination can get at something deeper or stranger or off-kilter in a way that a straight recitation of facts can't. Personally, I also look for potential, so it doesn't have to be an artist whose vision is necessarily fully formed, but someone who has that touch of insight and ought to be encouraged and cultivated -- so, in a way, MOME is like an ongoing laboratory experiment."
I couldn't imagine a better explanation of the value of artcomix in general and anthologies (like MOME) in particular.

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Friday, May 23, 2008

 
Quote of the Day -- Here's Peter Schiff, president of money manager Euro Pacific Capital, on what we have to look forward to in the weeks, months and years ahead.
"Our whole phony standard of living is imploding. We have borrowed and spent ourselves into oblivion."
You can read much more about the price at the pump is just the beginning of the pain in an article at Reuters.com called "Think Oil Prices Hurt Now? Just Wait."

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

 
End of the World Watch, Meet Comics -- Here's Tom Spurgeon on how Peak Oil may affect comics in the next few years.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

 


Ditko Event at Jim Hanley's Universe -- To quote Tom Spurgeon, if I was in NYC I'd definitely be going to this:

FANTAGRAPHICS BOOKS & JIM HANLEY’S UNIVERSE PRESENT THE WORLD OF STEVE DITKO: SAT., JUNE 7

Fantagraphics Books and Jim Hanley’s Universe are proud to present a very special event on the evening of Saturday, June 7, to coincide with Fantagraphics’ appearance at the 2008 MoCCA Arts Festival.

Join noted Steve Ditko scholar BLAKE BELL for the world premiere of his eagerly-anticipated book, STRANGE & STRANGER: THE WORLD OF STEVE DITKO, along with an exclusive screening of Jonathan Ross’s acclaimed BBC documentary, “IN SEARCH OF STEVE DITKO.” Bell will also give a powerpoint presentation and talk on Ditko’s work and career and answer questions from the audience.

Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko is the first critical retrospective of Steve Ditko, the co-creator and original artist of the Amazing Spider-Man. The book explodes many of the myths of Ditko’s career, and presents reams of rare and unpublished Ditko artwork. All at once, the book functions as a biography of the artist and an examination of his work (spotlighting over 300 images) with commentary on what makes Ditko one of history’s greatest sequential storytellers. Following the June 7 premiere, the book will be widely available in stores later in the month.

TITLE INFORMATION:
Strange & Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko
By Blake Bell
$39.99 Hardcover
220 pages, full-color, 9” x 12”
ISBN 978-1-56097-921-0
PUBLICATION DATE: June 2008

LISTING INFORMATION:
WHO: Noted Steve Ditko expert BLAKE BELL
WHAT: The World Premiere of STRANGE &
STRANGER: THE WORLD OF STEVE DITKO
WHEN: Saturday, June 7, 8PM
WHERE: Jim Hanley’s Universe
4 West 33rd, NYC (off Fifth Ave, opposite Empire State Bldg.)

2008 is the year when Steve Ditko fans the world over will have the opportunity to celebrate the artist’s 50-plus year career with this definitive volume from Blake Bell and Fantagraphics Books. And it all starts June 7 in Ditko’s hometown of New York City.

 
Quote of the Day -- Here's Dave Sim, trying to convince Chester Brown he is not a misogynist:
"I think there is a substantial body of evidence -- increasing every day – that indicates women are intellectually inferior to men."
Uh, try again, Dave.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

 
Tom Spurgeon and Others Remember Rory Root -- Nuff said.

 
The New Way of the World -- Here's how you find yourself sliding into the Long Emergency, as seen at CNN: Homeless Mom Living in SUV.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

 
2 Guns -- Steven Grant's crime comics are always well-constructed and entertaining, so I ordered the collected 2 Guns through my comic shop after learning Diamond didn't have all the single issues in stock.

The plot involves two criminals who are each not quite what the other thinks, and there's plenty of double-dealing, reversals of fortune and, toward the end, moments of revelation that were solidly planted in earlier chapters.

The art by Mateus Santalouco is somewhat problematical -- there's a good design sense throughout and the colouring has that Hawaiian Dick feel to it; but Santalouco's actual individual panels tend toward the undercooked much like the work Ryan Ottley does for Image's Invincible, including a lack of backgrounds and an unfortunate tendency toward xeroxed panels. Grant's story is solid enough that you're drawn through to the end despite these flaws, and also a couple of disastrously mis-applied word balloons -- you'll definitely know those when you see them.

I've never seen the original comics, so I can't say for sure, but it seems like this Manga-sized collection is smaller all around than the comics probably were, with no adjustment made for the lettering, so it's a little hard on the eyes, and some panels feature an awful lot of dialogue. If you're going to go smaller than the originals were printed at, it's definitely worth redoing the lettering so that it's not quite so hard to read.

2 Guns was my first plunge into buying Boom Studios product, and I did so solely based on the strength of Steven Grant as a writer. His work here is fine, but the art, reproduction and lettering all needed a little work to make a more perfect product. If you like crime comics, like me, you'll probably forgive these weaknesses, but they don't make me anxious to spend more money on future Boom Studios releases without seeing what I'm getting myself into ahead of time.

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Saturday, May 17, 2008

 
Dealing with Bush -- Finally, a reasonable plan to deal with America's ruthless, rogue "president."

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A Look at Peak Oil Novels -- Here's a long look at the recent spate of Peak Oil-based novels, including James Howard Kunstler's World Made by Hand. After reading the main article, I was delighted that my most recent interview with Kunstler was referenced in the footnotes. I feel so academic!

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Friday, May 16, 2008

 
Spurgeon's Will Elder Obit -- Tom Spurgeon provides an informative look at the life and work of Will Elder, who died earlier this week. Tom also provides a round-up of comments on Elder's passing by other writers.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

 
MOME Vol. 11 and Amor Y Cohetes -- Here we have two collections packed with fantastic comics, both excellent examples of why Fantagraphics remains the best comics publisher in North America.

* MOME Vol. 11 is the Summer, 2008 offering of the company's anthology of new and established cartoonists. This time out we get excellent offerings from Tom Kaczynski (a truly riveting tale about corporate immersion, one of his best stories yet, and he's always interesting), Dash Shaw (an outstanding story about art and jealousy and fakery and self-deception), and an amazing text piece (illustrated, yes, but mostly text) by Paul Hornschemeier. Hornschemeier also contributes another chapter of his ongoing "Life with Mr. Dangerous" serial (actually the most intriguing outing yet), but the text piece, "The Guest Speaker," is a real stretch, a prose exploration of a single character that feels like Hornschemeier's creative voice, exploring new boundaries of his storytelling.

Gary Groth interviews lettertype cartoonist Ray Fenwick (coinciding with the release of Fenwick's new Fantagraphics release Hall of Best Knowledge, and the result is a fascinating look at his process and creativity.

Oh, I almost forgot, Al Columbia is in here with four pages of mood and colour that are worth the price of admission all by themselves. All this, and a lot more; MOME is your best artcomix value every time out, and this really is an exceptional example of its breadth and worth.

* Amor Y Cohetes is the final (for now) volume of the most recent Love and Rockets reprint series, closing out the entirety of the series first fifty issues in seven compact, amazing volumes. This one is an odds 'n ends catch-all, but it's far from optional if you love the cartooning and storytelling of Los Bros Hernandez. "BEM," Gilbert Hernandez's wild first longform saga, is in here, as is his take on brother Jaime's characters. Lots of short pieces, some political pieces by brother Mario (who seems EC-inspired, to my eyes), and perhaps my favourite thing of all, a plethora of Gilbert panels that remind me strongly of Steve Ditko's work (many of them in the aforementioned "BEM").

If I felt like dicking around with my scanner, and possibly damaging the book, I'd post some examples. But grab a copy and turn to page 39, panel 4; page 10, panel 2; page 14, panel 3; page 24, panel 5; page 178, panel 3. The Hernandez Bros have a number of influences that are especially evident in their early work (which "BEM" surely is), but for some reason seeing Gilbert's Ditkoesque stylings really made me love this book even more. And there's so much stuff in Amor Y Cohetes that you can pretty much open to any page and just start reading another wild, stream-of-consciousness tale. Oh, and would Tesla Strong have existed without Rocket Rhodes as an inspiration?

Get Amor Y Cohetes and take it to the beach, keep it in the car, read it on the train -- it's a great companion for the summer ahead, and like all L&R volumes, absolutely indispensable to any reader who loves great comics.

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Damn, He Has A Point -- Here's Tom Spurgeon making a damned convincing case for Wimpy from Popeye being the greatest cartoon character of all time.

 
Fantagraphics Goes Diamond-Exclusive for Direct Market -- Tom Spurgeon has a great news article up on this move, rumoured the past few days.

I won't pretend to understand the ins and outs of Fantagraphics' decision, except to say that I hope Eric Reynolds, Fantagraphics' expert publicist, is right when he says it will benefit the company and readers (like me) who buy their wares through the direct market.

Respected retailer Chris Butcher has serious concerns, and lays them out well in his comments in Spurgeon's story. My experience has been that Diamond has not been particularly conscientious about serving non-Marvel/DC publishers and the readers who order their titles, so I definitely will reserve judgment and again, hope that Fantagraphics really does know what it is doing.

I don't know much of anything about Tony Shenton, apparently an independent distributor who handled Fantagraphics publications and is seemingly being shut out by this deal. I hope he is able to ride out this change without a disastrous effect on the way he makes his living. Like I say, I don't know much about him, but if he's been distributing Fantagraphics publications to comic book stores these past few years, he has to be one of the good guys, and I wish him well in the wake of this rather amazing announcement.

Update: Chris Butcher has posted his full response to Tom Spurgeon's questions on his own blog.

Updated Again: Eric Reynolds responds, quite convincingly, to Butcher's concerns.

 
The Digital Comics Paradigm Shift -- Here's a long, thought-provoking piece by Dirk Deppey on digital versus paper comics at Journalista.

 
John Byrne in the Spotlight -- I've posted an introduction to Byrne and a look at some of his best art over at iTaggit.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

 
8 Comics You Should Be Reading Right Now -- That's my latest article, up now at iTaggit.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

 
Kunstler on The Colbert Report -- I'm not one for embedded video files, but what the hell:



Enjoy!

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Monday, May 12, 2008

 
Tom Spurgeon on Comics Pricing -- As someone who frequently quotes Tom's "The only comics that cost too much are shitty comics," truism, I feel compelled to link to Spurgeon's think-piece on whether comics are becoming too expensive.

My feeling is, look at the cover prices of Acme Novelty Library, Love and Rockets and Eightball now versus when they debuted as floppy, serial comics. I'm just as happy paying $9.99 or $16.99 or whatever they charge for them as I was when they were two or three bucks. Because they're great comics, not because it's more pages or a better format.

The only Marvel comic not currently overpriced is Criminal, which I would still buy as-is at $9.99 and be perfectly content. The average Marvel Universe title, though, would be a screw-job at fifty cents. Look at it this way: Thanks to BitTorrent technology, I can read any Marvel or DC title for free the day after it comes out. And 99 times out of 100, I don't bother even then, for free.

How about you?

 
ADD's Guide to the Best Comics Publishers -- Freshly posted at iTaggit.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

 
Sunday Stuff -- Mother's Day is here again, my annual reminder that I didn't really plan my wedding anniversary (in less than two weeks) with any kind of budget or common sense in mind.

My mom's been gone for well over a decade now, but I still think of her often; there are people I've worked with who I know I have completely forgotten ever existed, but I must think about my mother every couple of days. I always wish I could ask for her advice on whatever the decision of the moment is, and I wish she could have spent time with my kids. She only lived long enough to see my daughter when she was a baby, and that doesn't seem fair, but of course, fairness is a fairy tale.

I'm taking my wife and kids out for Mother's Day brunch at a wonderful place up in Lake George, which we stumbled into last Mother's Day when my initial plans fell through at the last minute. This time we have reservations and everything. What could go wrong?

We saw Iron Man yesterday. It is as awesome and well-done as everyone keeps telling you. If you haven't seen it, please do. And remember to check out my list of recommended Iron Man graphic novels at iTaggit.

Chris Butcher, one of the internet's most indispensable comics resources, has given quite a gift today to anyone who runs a comics-related website or is thinking about it. Read his thoughts on what he would do if he started up a new comic book website. There's an implied and well-deserved criticism of existing, popular sites and good, strong hints for those willing to see the big picture. I would love it if Chris actually did what he's talking about, but I'd settle for all the rest of us taking the hint and getting our collective shit together.

Certainly I've gotten a sense of what he's talking about since I started blogging about comics for iTaggit. They're paying to have me on their site as an "expert blogger," and while that money isn't going to cover my rent or pay for college for my kids, it will make my monthly budgeting easier and maybe help make my summer a little more fun. Actually getting paid for what you're doing by definition makes you take it more seriously, and most of the popular "comics news sites" don't pay much, or anything to their contributors. Which is why I would have a very hard time thinking of more than three or four columnists/writers for those sites that I pay any attention to at all. The people I rely on for the very best comics writing online do it by themselves on their own sites (or with one or two people occasionally chipping in, probably for reasons other than money), and it's unfortunate that they aren't better rewarded for their work. Because as Butcher points out, if they were, there would be a hell of a lot more of it for us all to enjoy and learn from.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

 
Recommended Online Comics Resources -- If you're a regular reader here, this may all be old hat to you, but I've posted a guide to the best online comics resources at iTaggit.

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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

 
Blitzer and Obama -- Here's what I want Wolf Blitzer to ask Barack Obama tomorrow on CNN:

I would like to know how the Obama Administration plans to deal with the permanent energy crisis we are entering — will he find ways to encourage smaller, more realistic economies of scale at the local level? What will he do when gasoline is not only too expensive for most Americans, but very possibly not even available, at any price? If he wins in November and serves two terms, that is almost certainly something he and his Presidency will face.

 
Lyrics I've Had in My Head a Lot Lately -- By the Talking Heads, from the album True Stories:

We live in the city of dreams
We drive on the highway of fire
Should we awake
And find it gone
Remember this, our favorite town.


Probably my favourite song on my favourite Talking Heads album, it seems to apply both personally and globally...

Monday, May 05, 2008

 
Amazing Things About Me -- Here's just a few of the things I have learned about myself by reading a comments thread at Comics Should Be Good:

1) I want to move in with James Kochalka.

2) I "assume a binary continuum" of "good" comics vs. "evil" comics.

3) I am "not a person but rather a highly advanced computer program that is able to effortlessly generate article after article of blowhardism."

4) I've "chosen a side, and [am] writing propaganda for the home team."

5) I "fulfill all the popular negative stereotypes of the 'professional critic.'"

Rebuttals:

1. I would not move in with James Kochalka until baby Oliver is out of diapers. I've changed enough diapers for one lifetime, thanks very much.

2. It's not so much good versus evil comics, as good versus evil comics "fans."

3. Since I actually am a highly advanced computer program that is able to effortlessly generate article after article of blowhardism, I can't really argue with #3.

4. I'm not sure, but I think this one means I am gay. Which would explain why I want to move in with James Kochalka, actually. God damn it, these people may be on to something.

5. Not so, I lost my ascot years ago and can't afford a new one.

Apropos of Nothing


If, after learning all these new and amazing facts, you would like to expose yourself to more of my blowhardism, please do check out my newest articles at iTaggit.

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