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Friday, October 31, 2008

 
The Best Show of 2008 -- Hear, hear.

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Monday, October 27, 2008

 
Images from the Fall 2008 Albany Comicon -- Here are some pictures my wife Lora took at yesterday's comic book convention in Albany, New York. Click 'em to make 'em bigger.


Dealers and comics.



FantaCo Alumni Rocco Nigro, Roger Green, Fred Hembeck.



Unlike me, you probably recognize this robot.



My daughter Kira as a character from Death Note, and The Doctor.



Artist Joe Staton signing a sketch for my wife.



My wife, very pleased with her new piece of art (photo by me).



Harley Quinn, my daughter Kira, Poison Ivy.



The next generation of superheroes.



I thought this guy died?

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

 
Notes From the Albany Comicon -- The fall edition of the Albany Comicon took place today. I brought the wife and kids, and I think everyone had a better time than any other convention we've attended.

* My wife got an amazing drawing of her favourite Archie characters by Joe Staton. I'll post an image of it here when I download the pics from today, but suffice to say my wife was very, very happy to finally get a piece of original art featuring Archie, Jughead, Betty and Veronica. I was thrilled to finally meet Joe in person -- his work has been some of my favourite in comics from E-Man in the mid-1970s up to the current series Femme Noir. He's a great artist and it was great getting to talk to him a few minutes and getting that sketch for my wife. Thanks, Joe!

* Joe also shared the fantastic news that Image will be publishing two E-Man projects in 2009 -- a softcover, black and white omnibus (over 600 pages) of ALL of the Staton/Cuti E-Man stories, published by Charlton, Image and other companies. Joe confirmed for me that he considers only the stories by Cuti and himself canonical, so the somewhat dated Marty Pasko-written stuff won't be included, which is fine by me. Also, a colour hardcover will collect the superb original 10 Charlton E-Man issues. Joe told me he is currently working on restoring the art for these two projects, which are officially my most anticipated releases for 2009.

* Saw the Hembecks -- Fred seemed swamped by fans, which is always nice to see, and it was good to meet Fred's wife, too.

* Saw just about every person I know in New York's Capital District who is interested in comics. Great to see you, Tom, Roger, Rocco (an expat now, but back for this event), Tim, Mick, Alicia, Darren, John, Matt, and I know I am forgetting someone, but it was overwhelming to see so many friends and acquaintances in such a short span of time, some I hadn't seen since the late 1990s.

* Spent TOO MUCH MONEY. Bought the Amazing Fantasy Omnibus and Two-Fisted Tales Archives Vol. 1, offered up for 30 percent off, too good a deal to turn down. Spent 50 dollars on Star Trek action figures (NERD), and gave my kids probably 50 or 60 bucks all told. They bought lots of stuff that made them happy. On the plus side, my wife bought us all lunch at Pizza Mare, and that was the tastiest slice of pizza I've had in a long time. Thanks, Lora!

* The kids really had a wonderful time -- my daughter found plenty of manga-related stuff to keep her attention (and dwindle her con allowance), and my son found a few Star Wars items I know he's wanted for a long time. My wife and Earthworld's Alicia had a nice chat, as they usually do when they see each other, and as I said earlier, the Archie drawing by Joe Staton really cemented the idea that this was a great convention for my wife, which is a good feeling. I've probably dragged her to a few that she had no fun at all at, but that wasn't the case today. A good time had by all, to coin a phrase.

* Funniest thing I think I said today: When introduced to a friend of a friend, he told me "I've read your stuff on the internet." "Yep, that's where I keep it," I replied. Well, I thought it was funny at the time.

* Funniest gross thing I thought of on the way into the convention: The worst soup of all time must be the "Soup of Bidet." I'm amazed no one appears to have ever used this phrase on the internet. Look at me, blazing the trail!

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

 
Ethical Publishers -- Here's Chris Butcher righteously outraged by the lack of decency, honour and ethics at most comic book companies, and taking the time to explain to creators and readers which companies actually don't try to fuck over the people that create comics for them.

I won't name all the companies Chris does, because then you'd have no reason to click over. But it's no surprise to me that Fantagraphics makes the list, because their unsurpassed respect for creators is the reason they attract the very best talents in comics, period. You don't attract, and keep, stellar talents like Los Bros. Hernandez, Daniel Clowes, R. Crumb and Paul Hornschemeier, among dozens of others, by ripping them off every chance you get and demanding vague and usurious contracts of your unwitting victims, like, say, Marvel and DC are known to do. And HINT HINT, those two companies do not make the list of most ethical comics companies, and it's no coincidence that they produce a preponderance of the lousy and mediocre comics clogging up the pipeline every week.

Would-be creators would do well to look at Butcher's post and understand that the companies that publish your work will either screw you or they won't, and that it's in your best interest and the best interest of the work you create to understand what being screwed in the comics industry looks like and how to avoid it. Readers who truly love comics as an artform owe it to themselves and to comics to support the ethical companies and shun the scumbags, and to give enough of a shit to know the difference.

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Monday, October 20, 2008

 
First Bafflement of the Day -- People are still using the term "mainstream" to refer to corporate superhero comics? Really?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

 
Election Notes -- Just a few...

* I was interested to watch SNL last night for Sarah Palin's appearance. It seemed like the entire thing was a bit too...deferential? Which was probably needed to get her on the show, but really, who gives a fuck if she is on the show? Interesting that, at the end of the episode, no one stood next to her, and Tina Fey did not appear to even be on the stage.

* I saw Oliver Stone's W on Friday night. It's not as gut-bustingly funny as the ads make it seem, but it is a very good film and lends some insight (who knows if it's accurate?) into the character of the man who almost single-handedly destroyed America's reputation and infrastructure. It made me feel pity for the man, which is an accomplishment. I will go to my grave, however, believing that justice will not be done until all of them -- Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rove, Rumsfeld, and the rest -- stand trial for treason here in the US, and for war crimes at the World Court.

* I leave Colin Powell off the list on purpose; his deception-filled appearance before the UN in the run-up to the US war against Iraq will forever stain the man and his reputation, and I'm still not certain he doesn't belong on trial with his former cronies. But his endorsement of Barack Obama for President today seems like a gesture of contrition to me. It's not enough, but it's a start.

* Of course, it almost doesn't matter who wins this election; either of the two media-anointed candidates will almost immediately inherit the biggest social and cultural catastrophe in world history, and there's no stopping it now, if it even waits until Inauguration Day. But I'd like Obama to win, if for no other reason than to subvert eight years of evidence that the United States electorate is the biggest bunch of dumbasses in the history of stupidity.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

 
ADD's Copywriting Services -- I've started a WordPress blog to promote my freelance copywriting services. If you need a copywriter, or know someone who does, please click on over and have a look. Thanks!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

 
Ghost World Special Edition -- Speaking of his landmark graphic novel, creator Dan Clowes says "It is the only I've been involved with that is ever discussed as its own thing, on its own terms, without mention of a creator -- to such an extent, in fact, that I've come at times to question my own existence." All who create fiction should aspire to generate such powerful icons as Enid and Rebecca, the lead characters of Ghost World, although Clowes's frank admission of how it feels is rightly unsettling.

Look, Ghost World is one of the most vividly realized and compelling graphic novels yet created. Clowes has done more complex (David Boring) and more inventive (Ice Haven) works, to be sure. But Ghost World's perfect storm of tortured entitlement and lost horizons captured a moment in amber, and that moment is as wonderfully revisited with every re-reading as it was viscerally experienced upon first ever cracking open its pages.

That is to say, few works in comics form are so deserving of the sort of presentation Fantagraphics gives Ghost World in this special edition. Enid and Rebecca's relationship and its slow dissolution remains a wondrous and funny and heartbreaking story that is beautifully constructed and never takes a wrong step. It is so well-structured and compellingly crafted that it inspired a film great in its own right that doesn't even find particular value in sticking to the details of the original story.

The book and the film remain two of the greatest joys in my life, and this new hardcover special edition is a great summation and celebration of all that has gone before: you'll find the original graphic novel, plus the screenplay, and seemingly every single piece of art that Clowes ever created for anything relating to Ghost World, including CD inserts, advertisements, dolls, and other merchandising offshoots.

Because Enid and Rebecca inspire such interest and passion to those who experience their story (in any medium), it seems somehow right to assemble for their fans every document and piece of evidence relating to their existence within the pages of this book. Moreover, though, it seems to me a paradoxically personal attempt by creator Dan Clowes to somehow reclaim these two girls, these portions of his personality that he gave to create this work, to somehow find a way to wrap his own brain around the phenomenon that came from his giving Ghost World to all of us. In a way, the Special Edition gives Ghost World back to Dan Clowes, and as such it's a perfect book for those of us who love this story, and a perfect gift of acknowledgment and thanks to its own creator.

Buy Ghost World: The Special Edition from Amazon.com.

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The Alcoholic -- There's a feeling of rote recitation at work in this new graphic novel written by Jonathan Ames and illustrated by Dead Haspiel; "My name is Jonothan A. and I'm an alcoholic," the narrative starts off, and from there Ames tells his (presumably autobiographical and sometimes non-linear) story of a life made sometimes bearable, sometimes horrific, by drinking.

The story is frustratingly well-structured; the seams of Ames's technique are at times distressingly visible, like the ratty sportcoat a drunk might wear to an AA meeting. The whole thing feels like an AA meeting, in fact, except one that goes on for hours and only features a single speaker. All that is moderately redeemed by the fact that at least Ames spins a good yarn, and uses that skill to create some amusing scenes.

His relationships with his childhood best friend and his great aunt loom largest in the tale, although a late-in-life love affair also provides some insight into Ames's psychopathology. At the root of it all is an American man who has trouble navigating relationships and finds it easier to numb the pain with drugs and alcohol. There's nothing out of the ordinary about that at all, really, and Ames and cartoonist Dean Haspiel (who delivers the same solid cartooning here that he did for Harvey Pekar's The Quitter) really don't ever make a case for this story being particularly special or unique.
At times Ames seems like a wounded child, at others a narcissistic jerk. Mix the two, add some booze, and there you have, well, almost every adult male I have ever known. Ames has some modest skill with words and does manage to make The Alcoholic hold together as a narrative, but the total effect feels more like an Afterschool Special than I am sure the creators intended. The Alcoholic aspires to art, but never quite reaches that level, and its indeterminate ending ending suggests either the verisimilitude of life, or the arrogance of lessons unlearned, depending on how charitable you might feel as you turn to the final page.

Buy The Alcoholic from Amazon.com.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

 
Dow Jones Flirting with Sub-8000 Numbers -- I'd be surprised if they don't suspend trading before the end of the day. And keep it suspended until after the "world leaders" figure out how to keep this shell game going a little longer...

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Why My Kids Love Me, or Possibly Hate Me -- Verbatim conversation as my son was getting out of the car for school this morning:

Me: I want you to pay attention in detention.
Aaron: DAD. There's nothing to "pay attention" to. It's detention.
Me: Well, I hope there isn't a lot of tension. In detention.
Aaron: [Silence]
Me: You know, what comes after detention is suspension.
Aaron: [Silence]
Me: Of this, no more will I mention.
Aaron: [Gets out of car and walks toward school]
Me: Have a good day...you and your...henchmen.

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

 
Are You Rich? -- The most I've ever made was just shy of $40,000 a year, and while I didn't think I was rich, I was able to afford a 100-mile daily round-trip commute, two monthly car payments, my half of the rent, all of the grocery money for a family of four, lunch at a restaurant every day, and hundreds of dollars in comics every month...sometimes every week. The day I bought the life-sized Alex Ross Spider-Man head bust, I think I spent about $400.00 on comics plus the bust, which I still have (and still love, I admit). I recently slipped up and admitted in front of my wife that I bought the Spidey bust, after lying to her and telling her it was a "review copy" back in the day...I was ashamed of spending that much money on something that unnecessary, and I'm glad she knows the truth now, anyway.

I bring this up because of Roger Ebert's thoughts on what makes one rich. I love how much more personal and political Ebert's writing has gotten lately.

I am far from rich these days, and far from making anywhere near $40,000, which makes me sad, because I remember reading in GQ years ago that a successful adult should be making $1,000 for each year he has been alive. In radio that is easy at age 20, nearly impossible at 42 unless you're Howard Stern or Rush Limbaugh, or at least very popular and in a big market. Of course, I might be richer if I didn't do things like spend $250.00 on a custom frame job for a Justice League lithograph, but in my defense, A) I was momentarily flush with cash, B) I was out of my mind with dental problems and anxiety and C) Come on, it's Bruce Freaking Timm.

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Toward Better Comics Criticism -- Dick Hyacinth has the best piece I've seen on the subject in quite some time. And he also gets why Kingdom Come is better than Geoff Johns's Bathtub Cum, but that ultimately both are crap in an artform that contains Chris Ware, Dan Clowes, and a thousand more gifted comics creators than Waid, Ross and Johns.

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Sunday, October 05, 2008

 
What if Marvel and DC Disappeared? -- Comic Book Galaxy alum Michael Paciocco has been pondering that question: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

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Friday, October 03, 2008

 
Keeping Up with The Eberts -- If you're a fan of Roger Ebert, you won't want to miss this Time Out Chicago profile of he and his wife Chaz.

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