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Fun With Furor

Recently, the Conversation I did with ADD about the wonders that are Morrison and Moore struck some nerves across the Net, with otherwise bright people making a lot of comments about things we either didn't say, or they were coming up with reasons why we said what we did, or they just didn't like what we said. It got pretty ridiculous and isn't worth rehashing here, but I did learn a few things. First, some people will take the easiest explanation possible to make themselves feel right, such as when one guy opined that the reason that Alan (you know, the guy who likes The Ultimates, wouldn't shut up about The Authority's greatness when Ellis was writing it, raves about Street Angel) was ripping on Geoff Johns was because he "doesn't much like superheroes." Thanks for the effort.

I learned that the strength of the conversational email column format-its spontaneity-is also a pitfall, because the initial thrust of the piece-Morrison and Moore are visionaries and have made great contributions to comics-can get into some distracting areas (what's wrong with people who don't give them their props?! Here's a few guys who are mediocre yet popular) that take away a lot of the positive power and good intentions of the piece. One to grow on.

Third, some guys think nothing of writing a whole column to refute your own column, don't have the courtesy to tell you about it, and don't even link to the original in their piece. Nice manners, babe.

Finally, I learned that it's generally a good idea for me to stay off message boards and comment threads, because I have a bad temper, but that does mean people miss out on the entertainment value of stuff like this:

From the "Arctic Shit-Knife Peddler" thread (if you don't know, you may already have stepped on one) at John Jakala's Grotesque Anatomy:

"...As far as Terra Obscura, you may find it lousy, but it was certainly coherent, and I resent the implication that it 'gets a pass simply because it's part of the Alan Moore ABC imprint.' Yep, that's what we do here, just rubber stamp shit with reputable names on the cover. Deathblow: Byblows -- BRILLIANT! Badrock -- FUCKING MASTERPIECE! Now, what I will grant you is that Johns is not outright terrible, but, fair or not, he probably takes a bigger hit from ADD because he's mediocre and yet bewilderingly successful right now, despite producing absolutely nothing that will endure beyond a lunch hour. Maybe I'm wrong, though, and we should be discussing other visionaries on Johns' level. How 'bout the films of Jonathan Frakes? The acting of Christopher Atkins? Boy, that Steve Perry could write some lyrics, huh? As always, it you're going to criticize, at least bring the funny."

Later on in the thread:

"...Pym Job..."

"...Better to be a Millar who can fly gloriously off the rails into abominable failure than the Disneyland kiddie car comics creators putt-putting around the track with the governor on the accelerator and the metal rail in the middle to keep them from breaking away from the pack."

"...Coke-Lines-On-A-Mirror-Master..."

Finally, I had a little fun with Graeme McMillan's Passive-Man/Aggressive Fist response to our column, though this wasn't frothing like the above, but rather just for yuks, poking a little fun at the writing style rather than the message:

"Batman: "Scotsmen are a cowardly, superstitious lot, right, Solomon?"

" Solomon Grundy: 'Solomon Grundy not down with slurs, hated enemy, but think these pieces work much better when writers remember to write in fictional characters' voices. Sweet Christmas, guvnor, does Solomon Grundy get peeved when goldbrickin' yahoo writer go out of way to get points across and then fictional character like am me sound different. Tres, tres bizarro. Stay frosty, people, because it's times like this that truly do try one's patience, body and soul, and a chappy like your own Solomon Grundy gets all verklempt with writers who don't give a shnall bout keepin it real in the ever-lovin, verdammt internet. Shazam.'"

That was fun. Ironically, as we, and by extension, the site, were being criticized for not showin' love for the simple, monolayered, unironic, de-de-constructed superhero book, our own Mick Martin did a nice piece covering that very thing, in this case, the fact that Marvel Comics has failed to show confidence in the original, puny humans-hating-and-avoiding, green, dumb and full of compassion for Betty, bashin' and beans, Incredible Hulk. Check it.

The Pink Sketchbook: Grrr! Vol. 1 by Scott Morse. AdHouse Books. $10.
As a writer/artist, Morse has been somewhat hit-or-miss with me, though the hits outweigh the misses. As an artist, though, his work is always vibrant, fun, and sometimes quite moving. There's nothing to tug the heartstrings in this upgraded mini-comic (usual mini-comic paper and cover plus a gorgeous color section), but the simple concept (Morse draws monsters) allows him to show off an impressive range and imagination. There are more than a handful of characters (Witchypoo, Wolfsapien) that might be good for a sequential art outing, but until that time, it's a pleasure just to enjoy a fine artist at work with no pretention, just a lot of skill.

Black Tide by Debbie Bishop, Mike S. Miller and Norm Breyfogle. Angel Gate Press.
This is probably damning with faint praise, but for those of you who miss CrossGen, you may like this offering from Angel Gate, which has just released the first trade paperback and has eight or so issues available after that. It's the story of a young man who doesn't realize he's the reincarnation of an Atlantean warlord, and there are a number of other Atlanteans posing as humans in this amalgam of sci-fi, superhero and espionage tropes. Bishop has enthusiasm, but has trouble sustaining interest, especially with some sloppy writing, like introducing important supporting characters just at the moment they're needed, and making the lead character, previously portrayed as a cocky twentysomething, into some sort of ace detective at the drop of a hat. Characterization changes to suit the scene, such as the beautiful Atlantean woman who screams and covers herself when she's peeped on in the shower, but who later claims that Atlanteans are not ashamed of their bodies. The trade paperback's bibliography certainly shows Bishop to have a wide range of scientific interest, but it doesn't translate into much more than a generic comic with the requisite wisecracking, reluctant but amazingly able hero. The art, from Miller on the first, collected arc, and Breyfogle from then on, is thorougly average, and does nothing to give the book the unique visual identity it needs to rise above the pack of other adventure books.

Ursula by Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba. AiT/PlanetLar. $9.95
I've been reading fairy tales to my son the past couple week from a big volume of them that I may assume is somewhat representative. It's fascinating how so many have such common elements (3 sons or daughters, the youngest destined for greatness; cats who turn into people and vice-versa, wonderful lands where you can lose track of time, etc.)and yet take some surprisingly dark turns, such as a girl forced to cut off a finger to make a key of bone in order to enter a "glass mountain" in "The Seven Crow Princes."

In Ursula, Moon and Ba seek to create a modern but worthy addition to the canon, with a young boy prince and fairy girl rekindling their love as adults, with literally explosive consequences. Described thusly, it sounds pretty good, and it really does come close to succeeding with its unabashed sweetness. Comics can always use more magic and romance. And the artwork by both, though hindered in its ability to convey a classic fairy tale look by being black-and-white, in a manga-sized format softcover, is cute during the childhood portions, sexy in the adult portions, and with intelligent symbolic images througout.

However, the creators make some choices here in telling this tale that detract from the enjoyment. Quotes that start off every chapter are so well-written and lyrical, they build up one's expectations for a story of similar sophistication. Also, even a fairy tale has some conflict to it. The prince has little difficulty finding his true love; she comes to him with little encumbrance or consequence, and even the King has no problem with the prince following his heart rather than choosing a local girl. Instead of a delightful confection, we get cotton candy. The creators, who are brothers, get points for trying something different, and while this doesn't quite work, they're worth watching.

More to come soon, including a review of City of Glass, Scott Pilgrim, and "Things I Know To Be True".

-- Chris Allen



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