05 October 2009

Monday's Musings

"Go grab your bag, I'll bring the gun"
-- AFI, "End Transmission"

There are days that I truly wonder how, a decade ago, I could come up with volumes of words about just about anything. I had a million and one things to say. Now there are days when I don't really want to open my mouth, put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard. The most interesting thing to happen in media was the release of AFI's Crash Love, and wait, that doesn't have anything to do with comics. Maybe passion really does fizzle? Anyway, here are some thoughts on this past week:
  • Is it a conflict of interest to have DC's Executive Editor writing an ongoing comic for said publisher? I'd be tempted to say "Yes", even if it is such a lower tier title as Outsiders as opposed to say Superman, but maybe that's just my personal ethos coming into play. To a certain extent, I would agree that an editor on a project is intimitely involved in the characters and direction and the like, but some part of me wants to keep the "writer" portion separate from the "editor" portion to keep some sort of oversight. This is not to say that an editor can't transition to writer, just take a look at Mark Waid, Tom Peyer, Peter Tomasi or Chris Ryall.
  • I got my shipment from Top Shelf this past week, after spending a goodly amount on their $3 sale. It made me happy, so I guess that proves I still have some sort of affection for comics and this isn't entirely an intellectual exercise. You can probably expect seeing a barrage of reviews, mini-reviews and musings on random Top Shelf material in the not too distant future, but so far the only thing I've read is Alex Robinson's Lower Regions. It's a visual dungeon crawl, and kind of fun.
  • Blogger's auto-coding for HTML sucks donkey balls. That doesn't have anything to do with comics, but there, I've said it. Random complicated coding for the sake of random complicated coding.
  • A book that has been seeing a good amount of press, is currently having a signing tour, and has piqued my interest is Hans Rickheit's The Squirrel Machine from Fantagraphics. I'll undoubtedly post a full review in good time, but in the interim, take a gander through the back cover copy:
Set in a fictional 19th century New England town, The Squirrel Machine initially chronicles the relationship and maturation of Edmund and William Torpor. But the two brothers quickly elicit the scorn and recrimination of an unamused public when they reveal their musical creations built from strange technologies and scavenged animal carcasses. Driven to seek concealment for their aberrant vocation, they make a startling discovery. Perhaps they will divine the mystery of the squirrel machine.

The Squirrel Machine is the legendary obscurantist cartoonist Hans Rickheit's most ambitious graphic novel to date. Exquisitely rendered, strange, and hauntingly beautiful, this evocative and enigmatic book will ensure the inquistive reader a spleenful of cerebral serenity that will require vast quantities of mediocrity to banish from memory.
  • Even I have to admit that Mike Choi and Sonia Oback's X-Force sure looks gosh darn pretty. The only problem comes in the fact that it's X-Force.
  • Comic Book Resources started up a new column a few weeks back focusing on Wonder Woman called Wonder of Wonders. By and large, the contributions have been pretty damn good, however, one recent column from Carol Strickland reminded me as to why I tended to hate letter hacks and many "fans" of characters. Throughout her contribution, she mentions bits and pieces of the Wonder Woman mythos and how to reconcile them into the character. The flaw comes in that she mentions keeping the "good" and getting rid of the "bad" without qualification.

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30 September 2009

This Column is DOOMED! - One: Adventures Great & Small

I don't remember 1963.

I wasn't even alive yet, so don't expect me to wax nostalgic about the year, or tell you about the various things that were going on. According to Wikipedia, though, it started on a Tuesday, JFK was assassinated, Pope Paul VI came to power, ZIP codes were introduced in the United States, the first NHL draft was held in Montreal, Lester Pearson became the new Prime Minister of Canada, the first X-Men comic was released, Tab cola debuted, Dr. No was screened in US theatres, many other interesting bits of trivia, and Arnold Drake and Bruno Premiani created the Doom Patrol.

Well, okay, it doesn't specifically mention that Drake and Premiani created the Doom Patrol in the run down of 1963, but in My Greatest Adventure #80, with a cover date of June 1963, they did just that. Prior to that issue, My Greatest Adventure seemed to have been an anthology title with multiple one-off tales per issue. After #80 the series continued on to #85 with tales mostly about the Doom Patrol (there are still a couple issues with other back-up features), before changing its title officially to The Doom Patrol. [My Greatest Adventure #80 - 85 are reprinted in The Doom Patrol Archives No. 1]

The intial team consists of the core of what you tend to think of when you envision a "classic" Doom Patrol line-up: The Chief, Robotman, Negative Man, and Elasti-Girl. Now, I'm not going to say that the stories are overlooked masterpieces or anything of the sort, but they are by and large fun. The dialogue is overwrought, the science is fantastically flawed, and the characterization is paper-thin, but this was the 60's: all of the the books were written like this. Which is actually partially the interesting thing; "strange heroes" with flaws coming up against equally "strange" villains like General Immortus as well as the scrutiny of the public around them. Almost sounds like a Marvel book, doesn't it? Issue #83 even has them fighting against themselves with the team trying to stop a Negative Man running rampant.

It's also somewhat quaint what's considered "strange" at this point. A guy in a wheelchair with incredible intelligence. A robot with a human brain. A woman who can shrink or grow at whim. A man in bandages that can create a "negative" version of himself that escapes his body to fly about and do whatever. Seems almost normal these days.

I'll have more to say about story when I take a look at what becomes of "Volume 1", however, what I do admire from the onset is the artwork from Bruno Premiani. It doesn't quite have the same economy of line, but it seems clear from this one of the influences on Mike Allred. Particularly when it comes to Allred's work on X-Force and X-Statix.

Next: Beast Boy and the ties to the DCU and everyone's got something to hide except me and my monkey.

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28 September 2009

Monday's Musings

I regularly come across things that I don't really want to write a full-fledged column about, but still want to throw my two cents in on. So, I'm putting together this thing for every Monday at noon that does a round up of various thoughts, ideas, and ephemera that I don't want to meld into any sort of coherence. It's not linkblogging, just scattershot ideas.
  • After what I think has been years of waiting for Spider-Woman #1, the first issue of the new series finally landed this past week. Given the placement of the title, though, the creators seem to have clearly defined what they think the audience will be checking the book out for.

  • Everyone and their brother seems to be talking about the Kirby heirs, the timing of their claim, and so on and so forth. Personally, when it comes to creators' families taking up the fight for equal share and ownership and such, I'm of two minds. On the one hand, I see them as taking up the cause of their family to fight for just, deserved compensation. On the other, I see them causing an almost catch-22 backlash amongst fans that "they didn't create" what they're seeking benefit from. I think they're perfectly within their rights to sue for compensation, that's their legal right.
  • Apparently the scorpion-rat-human hybrid thing from the second episode of Fringe is not possible, or so says an expert for Popular Mechanics. The column also mentions the fuzzy X-Men variety, which always makes me wonder why the superheroes usually seemed to get fancy powers rather than cancerous tumours. I know this subject was broached in Warren Ellis' Ruins as well as Grant Morrison's run on New X-Men, but I still think it was terrible that when the "no more mutants" crap ran through that the more probable mutations in mutants seemed to be the ones that were wiped out. Rather than the ones that could shoot laser beams out of their eyes or turn into metal. Go figure.
  • I've started a series of columns on Vertigo. The first one's available below and the second will be landing on Wednesday. Be on the lookout for "This Column is DOOMED!" which should give you a clue as to what I decided to tackle first. Also, if you're in the Vancouver area, be on the lookout for a raving madman going on about biting off more than he chew.
  • Speaking of Chew, it's an interesting concept and relatively well-written and illustrated, but for the life of me, I just can't see why it's setting people into such a tizzy.

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27 September 2009

Through a Glass Darkly

ver·ti·go (vûr'tĭ-gō')
n. pl. ver·ti·goes or ver·ti·gos
    1. The sensation of dizziness.

    2. An instance of such a sensation.

  1. A confused, disoriented state of mind.

[Middle English, from Latin vertīgō, from vertere, to turn; see wer-2 in Indo-European roots.]

1a. Introduction

I'm probably an atypical comics reader.

I didn't come to comics through animated shows or friends playing with action figures on the playground. Aside from Batman, in my youth, I was never really into superheroes. I liked horror, fantasy, science fiction and mystery. Although superheroes are a sub-genre of science fiction, in general, most of them never really clicked for me.

Anyway, in the next section is part of the initial column that I wrote for my now defunct "Scary Monsters & Super Creeps". I hope you'll forgive reusing an old column, but it lends credence to what will come. If you've already read it, feel free to skip down to 1993.

1b. Moore Repurposed

Do you remember the first comic that you ever bought?

Do you remember the circumstances surrounding it? Whether you were a kid with your friends, riding your bike up to the local 7-11, and you had an extra sixty cents to spare, so you bought that issue of Amazing Spider-Man that was sitting there with a Lizard cover that looked cool? How you sat down and pored over the pages before lending it to Jimmy, who returned it without a cover and chocolate prints all over the pages.

Well, I have an eidetic memory, basically, I remember everything. I can tell you what the first movie I saw in theatres was: ET: The Extra Terrestrial. I can tell you what the first adult novel I read was: a hardcover edition of HG Wells' stories including War of the Worlds, The Time Machine, and The Invisible Man, given to me by my grandfather when I was four and I devoured every page. The spring of that year was also the first time I kissed a girl, Margaret, as she was five and going to Kindergarten the next year, starting off a long string of affairs with older women (I've never dated anyone younger than me).

Could this have been one of my first comics? I thought it would be interesting to start off the "first" column discussing "first" things like my first comic. Yet, through all of this, I haven't got a clue what my first comic book was. This suggests to me that it was something bought for me before my second birthday -- which would mean before 1983. It's somewhat strange, because usually you can hand me anything in my vast collection of stuff and I can tell you when I got it and the circumstances surrounding it, but I can't remember that.

I know that I would have got it at the Jerseyville General Store, which had a rack of comics that changed regularly, usually carrying DC and odd small publishers, never any Marvel there. Marvel books I had to get in Ancaster at the Zehrs there. Both the Gene Colan and Ed Hannigan Batman stick in my mind, I remember having Batmans around #350, but I couldn't tell you which ones. This is my problem actually, my earliest comic books I don't have anymore. Either they were thrown out, given away, or destroyed in some, way, shape or form. It really wasn't until '84 or '85 when I got my first long box that I really paid any attention to what I had and where I kept it and even then things I "didn't like", didn't get put it the box, it was mainly reserved at first for Swamp Thing, horror books, Batman and Detective Comics from then on.

Up until Alan Moore's Swamp Thing, I wasn't exactly what you'd call a comics "collector", I was just a reader. I honestly didn't care if I got the next issue of Batman or not, it was just another form of entertainment, and often I could get better out of old sci-fi and horror novels. Swamp Thing was what changed my mind. Moore's stories, with richly textured art from the likes of Steve Bissette, John Totleben, Stan Woch, Ron Randall, and Rick Veitch, just drew me in. They were exactly what a young horror fan needed in addition to the black and white magazines, Stephen King novels, and the bad horror b-movies I used to watch on Sunday afternoons, like It Came from Outer Space and Horrors of the Black Museum.

Now, I'm not going to lie to you and tell you, "I was there from the very beginning." I wasn't. I read several of Marty Pasko's Swamp Thing issues before Moore and really didn't care for them, it made me pretty much ignore the book on the stands, even when the writer changed. The first issue of Alan Moore's Swamp Thing I bought was #38. It was illustrated by Stan Woch and John Totleben, and quite simply I bought it because it had underwater vampires. That may sound silly now, but to my four year old brain, I heard "underwater vampires" and I automatically thought "cool", or whatever it was that kid's then said when they thought something was neat.

Still Waters For those of you who haven't read it, let me tell you a little bit about it. The story takes place during the American Gothic storyline, the one where Swamp Thing is state-hopping at the bidding of John Constantine. Basically, it's your "town overrun by vampires" story, but with a twist. As the years progressed, a group of vampires discovered a perfect way to exist without being bothered by pesky things like sunlight by moving underwater in the dark, living in the sunken town of Rosewood, Illinois. There's your high concept there that hooks the kids, like me. Basically, from there, it's up to Swamp Thing to stop the underwater vampires, who've started to breed, from coming back up out of the water and killing whatever they feel like. Simple, isn't it?

It continued into the next issue with "Fish Story", and that may be one of the reasons why I continued reading the book, but dressed up in an intelligently told tale, were all of the things that I loved from the horror b-movies I watched. Now that I can look back upon this with more "worldly" eyes, I can see that Moore was playing with the classics, turning them on their ear, and creating something that was true to the heritage of the "monsters" and yet completely fresh and different. He did it in these two issues with vampires, then werewolves, zombies, serial killers, and the haunted house. As a horror fan, I just ate this stuff up like candy.

Honestly, though, it does show you a method to Moore's madness that you can see is even true today. He's very good at taking something old and making it new, giving it a fresh spin. Swamp Thing has its roots in all the old horror stories, Watchmen grew out of Charlton, Tom Strong and Supreme both come from Superman and Captain Marvel, and so on and so forth.

It's amazing how he does it.

2. 1993

Let's put a few things into perspective. In 1993, I was twelve. If you didn't clue in already, I was a strange kid. A little better than a year before, I had been hooked by X-Men #1, which was more or less my gateway into Marvel Comics. Even though I liked the adventures of Marvel's merry mutants, my heart still lay with DC. They just seemed to have more interesting stories, more willing to do things that were outside of the box. In 1993, my preteen brain was blown when DC started a new imprint "suggested for mature readers".

Although many of the books had carried that moniker beforehand, by labelling them under "Vertigo", it somehow felt a little more illicit. At first, I though maybe the comic shop I went to was no longer going to sell me titles I had previously purchased. I was already reading Hellblazer, Swamp Thing and Sandman, but maybe I had just sneaked by in picking those up. Maybe there was content in there that my twelve-year old brain shouldn't be reading. Maybe by branding them separately, DC was signalling that these comics were "off-limits" to me.

Thankfully, this wasn't the case. I squared things with my parents - showing them what I was reading - and they squared things with the comic shop - basically, I was allowed to buy anything I wanted. ...and so, branding the comics with "Vertigo", I was opened up to other titles. I loved Hellblazer, Swamp Thing, and Sandman, but what were these other pretty things that had somehow flown by my notice? Seeing things like Shade, The Changing Man and Doom Patrol bear the same logo, opened my eyes. I had sampled some of these comics before, but never really followed them too closely. By putting them all under one sign, I decided that I was going to have to read them all.

In January of 1993, with a March cover date; Vertigo launched with Swamp Thing #129, Hellblazer #63, Doom Patrol #64, Animal Man #57, Sandman #47, Shade, The Changing Man #33, and the first issues of two limited series, Death - The High Cost of Living and Enigma. Stories written by Neil Gaiman, Garth Ennis, Peter Milligan, Jamie Delano, Nancy Collins, Rachel Pollack. Art by Jill Thompson, Steve Dillon, Steve Pugh, Chris Bachalo, Duncan Fegredo. It was like crack. I've since gone back and filled in the earlier runs of Doom Patrol, Animal Man, and Shade; I wanted to see what they were like from the beginning.

3. A Road Less Travelled

For something that grew out of the strange and dark corners of the DCU, though, Vertigo has become something more. It became a place for creators to do their own work unfettered by the tamperings of corporate comics and the pressures of licensing and keeping characters "pure". It has seen such heights as Preacher, The Invisibles, Fables, Y - The Last Man, 100 Bullets and Transmetropolitan. It spawned a brief-lived sister-imprint in Helix and countless limited series and graphic novels. It has been publishing comics on its own terms for over sixteen years.

As such, I though it would be an excellent source to mine for material; the only problem is, where to begin?

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21 September 2009

Uninventing the Wheel

Empty spaces - what are we living for
Abandoned places - I guess we know the score
On and on, does anybody know what we are looking for...

1. On the Wild Ride

Death is an interesting thing.
From the moment that we are born, we begin dying. It's an inevitability of choosing incarnation on this planet, everyone dies. Some people take that with grace and dignity. Other people rage against the "darkness". All throughout, many make some sort of elaborate mythology regarding what happens after death. As such, we get interesting pipe dreams about an eternal reward, a black nothingness, conjunction with godhead, dissolution into the infinite...or zombies. I like zombies.

What comes after death? Annihilation or Reincarnation. That's the smartass answer. A more truthful answer would be, "I don't know".

Death doesn't last long in comics. Maybe a year or two. It's kind of like, if you die, you're eventually going to get better. It probably helps when Death herself is a perky goth chick, but well...if you don't get resurrected, you're at least going to come back as a zombie to drain the pocketbooks of other zombies. (Okay, maybe I don't like all zombies. You can't win all the time. Sometimes you get Shakespeare, sometimes you get a monkey wearing a Green Lantern ring) So, Bruce Wayne's dead or adrift in time, living horrible existences one after another, starting from the dawn of time. In other words, when DC finally dusts off the character in a year, we're going to get to read reams upon reams of snuff...but with Batman. Doesn't that make you feel better?

Anyway, Batman's dead. Long live the Bat! ...or something like that.

I actually haven't read most of what occurred between Batman: RIP and now Batman: Reborn. I took a couple looks at the stuff during that whole Battle for the Cowl thing a couple of days ago in the interest of more informing this column and thought it just looked like a big jumbled mess; so for sanity's sake, I'm ignoring it. Grant Morrison's Batman & Robin, though, thing of beauty.

Now, I know most people probably think "Grant Morrison = Weird and wacky, complex ideas." I think people overcomplicate things. They look in to something, like say Final Crisis, to find some sort of deeper meaning. They think that since Grant's written labyrinthine layers into things like The Invisibles that it must be present in everything that he writes. That's just silly. Even The Invisibles is fairly simple depending on how you look at it. You may not get every reference, but first and foremost, you have to look at any of these things as a story. An entertainment, a lark, a fable, whatever. Look at it that way first, and then derive any sort of existential meaning. Of course, everyone being a unique aggregate of ideas, thoughts and experiences, meanings found will differ.

So what's the story? Bruce Wayne is "dead", necessitating someone new to take his place, likewise resulting in a new Robin to stand beside him. As these two new people try to gain their footing in the roles, they stop a drug-smuggling ring by a group of strange circus performers, stumbling upon a madman trying to remake the world in his image, refashioning people as "dolls". As I say, it's pretty simple.

Batman & Robin, like its conceptual predecessor All Star Superman, is fairly straight forward. Being set in modern continuity, it doesn't have the opportunity to play fast and loose with the structure of universe, however being basically the adventures of a "new" Batman & Robin, it does get to tread slightly different terrain. Despite being set in a world of darkness -- filled with loss, despair and sickness --, it has a surprisingly light-hearted, ephemeral undercurrent. It's strange exactly how that works. It's not the gallows humour that you see in a black comedy, but something that's part irony, part absurdity, and part innocence. "Crime is doomed." or "...so we're agreed. It's Robin and Batman from now on."

To a certain extent, it somewhat feels informed by Morrison's run on Doom Patrol. The core cast of characters -- Dick, Damian, Alfred, Commissioner Gordon -- are played straight, but around them is the insanity of the Circus of Strange and Professor Pyg. Cross reference that to the Brotherhood of Dada circling about an axis of Cliff Steele. Also, while Batman: RIP put the reader in a position of where we were never quite sure where we stand, partially because if we take a peek inside Bruce Wayne's head we're liable to see fractals and talking gummy bears, however, with Dick behind the cowl, there's a humanization that occurs. A grounding that allows for a sense of orientation to take place.

Another hero, another mindless crime
Behind the curtain, in the pantomime
Hold the line, does anybody want to take it anymore

2. On Everything and Nothing

There's a line in Trent Reznor's Wish that goes something like, "Put my faith in god and my trust in you, now there's nothing more fucked up I can do." Then there's a Prince lyric, "Trust...who do ya?" How can you trust a ten-year old boy raised by a cadre of assassins who has an insane, immortal misanthrope for a grandfather?

The answer is: perfectly.

You can trust him perfectly to act irrationally. You can trust him perfectly to go off half-cocked at any instance. You can trust him perfectly to knee-jerk against your authority. That's currently the quandary that we have in this new Batman and Robin. On the surface level, roles have been reversed. Batman is now the more light-hearted individual with Dick Grayson behind the cowl; he's a more rounded character, always seeing light in the darkness. Robin, however, a character traditionally designed to add a bit of levity and colour to the darkness of the world of Batman, is now that same ten-year old boy mentioned above; Damian Wayne.

Even though there's a degree of extreme seriousness to Damian, it doesn't make him any less reckless, and because of it, makes him all the more dangerous. Batman still has to deal with a Robin who is young, inexperienced, and liable to do anything that serves what he thinks is the right course of action regardless of warning or reprimand. This is illustrated by the level of incredulity that Damian has for Dick, as well as how Damian deals with the criminal element. He's shown going off on his own against Pyg when he doesn't like what Dick has to say, as well as beating criminals insensate.

Now, I haven't said anything up until this point about the artwork in the first three issues of Batman & Robin, largely because I'm a writer and I find it much easier to talk about the written word. Part of it, though, is that Frank Quitely's choices of imagery, pacing, and blocking are so perfect that they diffuse immediate across the consciousness.

Take a look at this image on the right, the opening page to Batman & Robin #2. Scarcity of background detail notwithstanding -- that's also partially the point leading the focus to the two characters and the stairs -- this is an amazing image. Concern on the face of Alfred. Sorrow, possibly defeat, on the face of Dick. A Robin emblem lying torn on the floor. The draping of the cape to suggest tears. ...and a descent, Alfred coming down the stairs to reach Dick. Simple, yet loaded with content. This is true of pretty much every page of the first three issues of the series.

It also enables the humanization of Batman. Under the cowl, Dick Grayson is a wirier figure that Bruce Wayne, and Quitely takes a more realistic style when it comes to depicting the main characters. His more outlandish designs are reserved for the villains of the piece. It complements the story being told perfectly.

Also, in the second issue, we get a shift in narrative structure. Although in collected form we'll be able to go back and re-evaluate how the storytelling works, the first issue is told seemingly in the present. The second issue, even though it eventually continues on from where the first issue broke, is told back to us through Dick Grayson telling us what happened after the conclusion of the first issue. The third issue then goes forward again. There's a pattern and a tell in that structure.

"...there was a girl... Did -- Did you just save my life?"

The show must go on,
The show must go on
Inside my heart is breaking
My make-up may be flaking
But my smile still stays on.

3. On the Sickness

I like putting tonic water in my Pepsi or Coke.

Can't really explain it, but I like the taste. Somehow it's different from just adding lemon or lime; there's the tart taste of the quinine mixed with the sweetness of the cola that appeals to me. Maybe I'm just strange. I also can't hit the high notes in the Queen songs any more [Just for notation's sake, the interstitial quotes are from Queen's "The Show Must Go On" in case anyone didn't already know that]. Freddie Mercury was unnaturally gifted in terms of his ability to sing such a range without having to utilise a falsetto, but once upon a time, I could easily shift between my natural range and falsetto and ape the notes. I can't do it easily any more. Times change, vocal chords loosen, all that. Things lost.

You could say that it's a winding down, a general shift toward entropy. This is true of just about anything. The key is not to become stagnant. Not to latch on to what came before, hold on to dear life, and try to squeeze every single inch out of it. Take what is old, what is past and done, put it in its place, and move on. Respect it, sure. Learn from it, definitely. But don't worship it. Just because it's the past doesn't mean it's better, it just means that it's past. Change or die.

The problem, however, comes in the idea of "...into what?" It's a process. A journey. Lust for result will almost always result in failure. The perversion that comes from Professor Pyg's manifestations. If you search for anything long enough, you're going to find it. There is, however, the caveat in that what you find might not be exactly what you wanted.

...and so we're left with a pig-faced man; a man masked in "ugliness", couched in ideas brought forth from an Orwellian nightmare, trying to remake the world in his image. It may seem like the incoherent ramblings of a madman, but it's interesting what Pyg is going on about when he's got Robin held captive. First, there's a mention of the despair pit experimentations, then a litany of manifestations of "mommies made of nails": Mormo - a Greek manifestation that cuckolded bad children, Tiamat - a Babylonian goddess that represented that "formless void" mentioned in the Mormo line (also a really good gothic metal band), and finally the "Gorgon Queen" or Medusa - I don't think I need to qualify that one. There's also the line that followed Bereshith ("In the Beginning...") in the Hebrew bible, transliterated as "Tohu va Bohu" and translated as "formless and empty". About a topsy-turvy world I could write reams. ...and the Flashdance sequence is absolutely hilarious. I've missed this Grant Morrison and I'm happy to see him rear his little piggy head. This is like candy to me.

Of course, although ultimately it is fairly simple referencing, to some it takes them out of the straight forward action of a Batman comic. It's a couple drops of tonic water into the sweetness of the cola.

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12 September 2009

See the Stars they're shining bright...

There are a couple old adages out there that seem to come to mind to me right now, "Everything old is new again" and "You can't go home again." I could wax philosophical about both of those for some time, but that's neither here nor there at this juncture. Instead, I wanted to capitalize on the general sentiment of both, as well as one key word in both; again. There's a couple more, "History never repeats itself, it just rhymes" or "you can't stand in the same river twice".

Take those things into consideration, roll them over in your brain, and follow me.

A few months ago, I walked into a comic shop on my lunch hour. [Golden Age Collectibles to be precise] I wasn't sure why I was there, other than the fact that I was probably going to get a crêpe for lunch, it was on the way, and the sidewalk -- or lack thereof -- on Granville Street happened to be getting dust all over my suit and I wanted to get out of the way for awhile while the construction workers butchered the landscape in preparation for the arrival of international hegemony and competition. You swallow?

Anyway, for the most part, I buy my comics in book form through a book store. Have for a few years, perish the thought of walking into a comics store and buying comics. Yet, while I was there, I grabbed the first two issues of Batman & Robin, the first issue of Greg Rucka and JH Williams III's Detective Comics and the first issue of Wednesday Comics. I don't know what possessed me to do it, but gosh darn it, it felt good. It felt even better unfolding that issue of Wednesday Comics and reading it, trying not to spill any spinach, feta or egg, when I got back to my office. It was a tactile experience that I could only describe as revelatory.

Unfortunately, I must say aside from pretty art in the Wonder Woman strip and the sense that Neil Gaiman was having more fun writing his piece than I was reading it, most of that issue escapes me at the moment. That might say something about its transitory nature, but again, not the point.

That experience of walking into the comic store and actually buying comics reawakened some dark, distant part of me and it set me on a path that I had forgotten. A sense of wonder, if you like. Another one came picking up the latest issue of DMZ today after committing to actually contributing to this new group blog idea of Alan's. Its first lines are "Hey dude... You tired of sitting alone in this fucking thing all the time? You ready to get back into the game?"

Apparently, the answer is "Yes". I can't promise any miracles. I can't promise anything that's going to encourage your hearts or enlighten your minds. I can't even promise that you're going to like half of anything that I write -- although you'll undoubtedly like the posts by the other members of this motley crew that Alan's put together. I can't promise any type of content that I'm going to be writing about, I don't know yet what it's going to be and I don't want anyone to be disappointed by grandiose statements and empty promises.

What I can promise is a unique perspective on the landscape. A landscape that is slightly the same, but slightly different, from when the Galaxy first pulled me into its orbit. The Spider has been eaten by the Mouse and the Frog is dancing on the Bullet's head. The "ultimate" reinvention of Marvel's superheroes has itself ultimately been reinvented, perhaps watered down to a certain extent with Ultimate Avengers. I haven't driven this landscape for a while, so I may need a map, but most of all, it's good to be back at it again and I hope to have some of you along for the ride.

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Data Sheet: d.

NAME: d. emerson eddy
BIRTHPLACE: Hamilton, Ontario
AMBITIONS: makes you look pretty ugly.  So does aggression.  You bring out the base nature of your animal and wind up looking like some puffed up monkey.  I much prefer perseverence, dedication and devotion.  ...and in response to those; to do great work.
GREAT COMICS:  Sandman, Promethea, Y - The Last Man, All Star Superman, off the top of my head.  Maus, From Hell, Stray Toasters, Cages.
FAMILY LIFE: um...yeah.
FAVORITE FOOD:  Depends on the day.  Right now, it's a peppercorn steak marinated in a red wine sauce with sauteed mushrooms and onions, with a side of asparagus and a creamy pepperjack mash.  Topped off with a glass of Cecchi's chianti.  Yesterday, it was a bag of Smartfood and Hot Rods.  The day before, it was avacadoes, homous and pita.
WHAT I LIKE IN COMICS:  Honesty.  Good old-fashioned storytelling.  Pretty pictures that adhere to some sort of layout that show that the artist was actually thinking and not just throwing images at the page.
WHAT I DISLIKE IN COMICS:  Cookie-cutter comics with nothing to say.  Hyperbole.
FAVORITE CREATORS:  Neil Gaiman.  Alan Moore.  Mike Mignola.  Bill Sienkiewicz.  Walt Simonson.  Dave McKean.  Cameron Stewart.  Eddie Campbell.  Seth.  Grant Morrison.  P. Craig Russell.  Jill Thompson.  JH Williams III.  Garth Ennis.  Steve Dillon.  Dave Gibbons.  Mike Carey.  Eduardo Risso.  Gabriel Ba.  Fabio Moon.  I could probably keep going, so I'll just leave it at that.
FAVORITE MUSICIANS: David Bowie.  NIN.  Peter Gabriel.  The Cure.  Tool.  Radiohead.  Tori Amos.  Muse.  The Host.  REM.  Isis.  Amorphis.  Opeth.  Ulver.  Nick Cave.  Anything Mike Patton touches.  My Chemical Romance.  Arcturus.  Synaesthesia.  Ryan Adams.  Alexisonfire.
FAVORITE MOVIES: The Last Temptation of Christ.  The Fountain.  Sunshine.  Mirrormask.  Radioland Murders.  The Third Man.  M. 
FAVORITE WRITERS: Neil Gaiman.  Salman Rushdie.  HP Lovecraft.  William S. Burroughs.  Aleister Crowley.  Philip K. Dick.  Thomas Pynchon.  Patrick McGrath.  Stephen King.
IDEAL EVENING: Curled up next to the fireplace, reading.

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