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Thursday, December 28, 2006
(postmodernbarney.com)'s 2006 Wrap-Up Awards
The "Better Late, Literally, Than Never" Award Goes to Marvel comics, for publishing a "creator-owned" Jack Kirby comics years after his death. I suppose at this rate, Steve Ditko might start getting some of the credit for creating Spider-Man sometime around 2030.
The "These Are Not The Queers You're Looking For" Award Goes to Marvel, for their entertaining to watch policy on gay characters. We went from "gay characters only in adults only titles, because we don't want to offend bigots" to "we're reviewing the policy" to "there never was any such policy" to "we love the gays, look, our flagship title Marvel Team-Up has a gay lead" to "oops, we just killed our gay lead character."
The "You Kids Stay Off My Lawn" Award Goes to a some-time blogger and comics commentator, nameless here because even I feel slightly guilty about picking on the guy, who felt the need to try and dictate who could and could not link to his on-line comments made in public forums. Guess what folks, the internet doesn't work like that.
The "Taking My Ball and Going Home" Award This very nearly went to Tokyopop, because of their attempt to make low-selling titles on-line exclusives, thus cutting direct market stores, the only venues which really had a chance to sell the niche, low appeal titles Tokyopop was pulling in the first place. In the end, however, I think it has to go to Alias Comics, for dropping all their non-religious titles and selling what remains of their line only in Christian bookstores. It was about as bold a statement as to the niche nature of their product as they could make, really.
The "Well, Somebody Had To Say It" Award This is all Grant Morrison's, for telling us exactly what he thinks of Frank Miller's proposed Batman vs. Al Qaeda series. The money quote: Batman vs. Al Qaeda! It might as well be Bin Laden vs. King Kong! Or how about the sinister Al Qaeda mastermind up against a hungry Hannibal Lecter! For all the good it's likely to do. Cheering on a fictional character as he beats up fictionalized terrorists seems like a decadent indulgence when real terrorists are killing real people in the real world. I'd be so much more impressed if Frank Miller gave up all this graphic novel nonsense, joined the Army and, with a howl of undying hate, rushed headlong onto the front lines with the young soldiers who are actually risking life and limb 'vs' Al Qaeda.
The "I Didn't Make Him For YOU" Award Chris Butcher wrote a thoughtful piece on yaoi, from the perspective of a gay man. Yaoi fangirls reacted with much horror, because they seemingly forgot that gay men are actually, you know, real, and might have an opinion about companies and creators making money off of fetishizing gay sex for teenage girls. And, in the process, the creepy homophobic/heterosexist attitudes of many yaoi fangirls was brought kicking and screaming into the light. So, this award goes to all those yaoi fans who can't stand the thought of gay men putting in their two cents about mass media depictions of gay men.
The "AHHH! Pornface!" Award This is for Greg Land, who this year taught us all that you don't need much to be an artist, just a stack of porn magazines and a lightbox. Hey, look, I can trace super-hero costumes over pictures of porn stars too, where's my Marvel contract?
The Creepiest Realization of 2006 At some point this year I realized what, exactly, was causing me to hate Kitty Pryde so much. When the character first appeared she was, to borrow a phrase from manga and anime fandoms, a moe-ish type. She was the ideal comic book girlfriend of those folks who were just a tad too into their X-Men comics. But, as Joss Whedon's Astonishing X-Men has made crystal-clear, she's morphed into more of a Mary Sue figure for the mostly male comics audience. If you will, the attitude from fans has gone from "I think of her as a younger sister...that I wanna screw" to "I wish I was a super-genius Jewish ninja getting fucked by a Russian body-builder." I mean, the fan attitude towards the character was messed up to begin with, but the Mary Sue appeal brings up all kinds of weird, kinky psycho-sexual issues with comics fans that I just do not want to think too much about.
The Cognitive Dissonance Award All those comic fans complaining about all the sex in Lost Girls. You...you don't want borderline inappropriate porn? Since when?
The "Worst Idea Ever, Of All Time, Bar None, Subject Closed" Award Clone Thor. What the hell was Millar smoking when he came up with that? I know it wasn't crack. Not even crack messes your head up that badly.
The "We Get It Already" Award Without a doubt, this goes to all those folks still complaining about All Star Batman and Robin. Okay, we get it, you don't think it's good. I'm not sure there's anyone left who doesn't know you don't like it. Constantly bringing it up to bash it or complain about? Not clever, not funny, pretty much a dead cliche at this point.
The "Would You Just Publish The Damn Thing Already" Award Oh, so many contenders for this award. I could give it to All Star Batman and Robin, for becoming an annual instead of a monthly, but that's too easy. There's always Daredevil: The Target. I'm slightly inclined to Ultimate Wolverine Vs. The Hulk, because the quality of Lost gives the lie to the excuse that it's taking up all of Damon Lindelhof's time. But, in the end, it has to go to Civil War, because Marvel editors, in their infinite wisdom, are so certain that anyone will still give a damn about this book in five, ten, or twenty years time, that it absolutely must have a consistent artistic vision throughout. A consistent artistic vision on a commercial cross-over which only exists to encourage Marvel readers to buy more Marvel books than they already do. A consistent artistic vision on a book which is really just a glorified "super heroes punch each other over stupid misunderstanding" story spread out over seven issues and 70+ ancillary titles. A consistent artistic vision that was apparently worth pushing back almost all of Marvel's entire publishing output several months. Because, all those other books I named above? Their lateness only affects themselves. Civil War's lateness affects Marvel's entire line. And that's almost beautiful in its wrongheadedness.
The "Gee, Can Even I Get Away With Saying This" Award Now, as any long time readers here know, I'm interested in gender issues as they relate to comics. I have a genuine concern about how men and women are depicted, and I truly think that issues of sexism and misogyny in the comics and the industry should be discussed in a mature and rational manner. But, over the past year, I noticed that the types of fans who are prone to knee-jerk, hysterical bouts of fannish rage, the fans who have a tendency to think that all comics should be drawn and written to their own over-privileged and over-indulged tastes, discovered a new tactic which allowed them to indulge in their outlandish rages and whines without getting much in the way of challenges. And that was to just barely disguise their rages and whines as feminist concerns. Which, you know, I found more than a bit off-putting. Because while there is ample evidence of institutional sexism in the comics industry, and more than our fair share of out and out misogynists working in the industry and in fandom, whether or not Stephanie Brown has a display case in the Batcave is a real hard-sell for me as a legitimate grounds for calling out DC for sexism. Batgirl becoming evil is not evidence of misogyny, it's evidence of sloppy writing. Every time I see a fanboy or fangirl entitlement rant disguised as a serious discussion of gender issues, I cringe, because all those false accusations of sexism confuse the signal to noise ratio to the point where genuine issues of sexism and misogyny get lost, or dismissed out of hand.
Okay, now that you all hate me...
Favorite Superhero Comic of 2006 Seven Soldiers. It may go down in history as, at best, a flawed masterwork, but masterwork it was. Grant Morrison's examination of super-heroic archetypes, the nature of fiction, and the interplay between text and reader was the most exciting super-hero work of the year, bar none.
Favorite Nonsuperhero Comic of 2006 Testament, Douglas Rushkoff's retelling of the Old Testament against the backdrop of an uncomfortably plausible future is one of the most challenging and well-drawn, and criminally under-read, books on the stands. Close Second Elephantmen, a touching and subtly characterized sci-fi story with jaw-droppingly beautiful art.
Favorite Graphic Novel of 2006 Rock Bottom, Joe Casey's and Charlie Adlard's examination of what it means to be human was another stunning work, and an impressive leap in Casey's skill as a writer. Close Second Pride of Baghdad, another beautifully illustrated work that will rip your heart from your chest.
Favorite Manga of 2006 Reborn. It's about a toddler assassin. Who shoots people in the head. What is not to love?
Sexiest Man In Comics, 2006
A bit of a change of pace this year, as a comics commentator gets a nod. Tim Leong
And, since I can never pick just one good-looking man, his co-winner. Chip Zdarsky
(photos nicked from Kevin Church, who will probably give me grief for not choosing him for this award)