Man of the Moment


Sean William Scott


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dorianwright [at] gmail[dot]com


"Reading his blog is like watching a beloved 50's Rat Pack Vegas act"--Larry Young
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"Dorian Wright is intelligent and slightly bitter, like a fine coffee."--Kevin Church
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"It's always fun to see Dorian be bitchy."--Chris Butcher




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Thursday, September 30, 2004

Housecleaning 

Added a couple of links:

Irresponsible Pictures, which is devoted to manga.

Pulp of the Day, which jamesmith3 reminded me I hadn't linked to yet.

The Commercial Closet, a site dedicated to examing gay, lesbian and transgendered imagery in advertising. The site is currently down, thanks to the American Family Association eating up their bandwidth.

And my first Other Project is now "live": Friday Physique, where I plan to share vintage physique pictures I've come across. It won't always be work safe, just so you know...

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The huh? 

No time for actual content today (that should be up tomorrow), so here's a surreal moment from X-Men #103.



And people accused Grant Morrison's run of being weird...

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Wednesday, September 29, 2004

New Comics Day Shenanigans 

--We got our preview copy of NYX # Whatever today, which presumably means it'll be out in stores next week, but since this is Marvel we're talking about, I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for. I flipped through it and I gotta say: as a writer, Joe Quesada makes a good penciler.

--Speaking of late books, Superman/Batman #12, or as I like to call it "No, it's NOT in yet!" was apparently supposed to ship to stores this week...unless of course you happen to be a store "serviced" by Diamond's LA warehouse, which didn't receive any copies of the book this week. Swell. So now I get another week of "But it said on-line that it was oooouuuutttt!"

--And while we're on the subject, here's a list of manga titles I planned on reading this month, that were scheduled to ship this month:

Angel Sanctuary
Fruits Basket
Fushigi Yugi
Inu-Yasha
Kindaichi Case Files
Kizuna
Legal Drug
Passion
Tuxedo Gin

And the manga titles I planned on reading this month, that were scheduled to ship tis month, that actually came out this month:

Kizuna

Yes, the only company that had it's act together enough to actually get product out when it was supposed to was the company that publishes porn. Oh well, if this stuff had actually shipped on time I might not have had the spare money to sample Descendants of Darkness, which I actually quite liked.

Of course, with my luck, all of those books I just listed will all ship next week...

--I also picked up the newest issue of Illustration, a very nicely put together mag devoted to, well, "illustration"-style artists. I'm always tempted by the magazine, but at $9.00 a pop I can't justify the expense to myself. (Especially since the only magazine I do buy regularly, Fortean Times, just raised it's price to $10 an issue...and that's not even counting the occasional music mag I get suckered into buying because of the "free" CD I want...) But I couldn't pass up this issue. It's got articles on Robert Bonfils, who did a lot of "sleazy" paperback art that I adore, Krampus postcards, and a Max Allen Collins piece on post-war "men's adventure" magazines, which I just love.



I mean, I know some people find this sort of thing to be in poor taste, but I can't help but find it hilarious.

--Oh, and the Halloween Ashcan comics shipped this week as well. Archie sent us 3 copies of a "Sabrina Meets the Archies" comic, all drawn in the faux-manga style they've been using on Sabrina. Marvel sent us a comic featuring two or three pages of four different "Marvel Age" comics. And Dark Horse actually provided a complete comic, a reprint of Evan Dorkin's and Jill Thompson's "Stray" from The Dark Horse Book of Hauntings. So, to sum up, that was one really ugly comic, one pointless comic, and one comic that people might actually like. A depressingly familiar ratio these days...

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Pete's Favorite Comics 

I want to thank everyone who wished Pete a Happy Birthday yesterday, we both really appreciated it. Here's a short list of some of his favorite super-hero characters, so that you get a better idea of his aesthetics.

The Legion of Super-Heroes

And who could resist a cover where the Legion fights the Super-Pets? Not me, that's for certain.

The Justice League of America

And how many times do you see the JLA and their secret identities on the same cover?

The X-Men

I picked this one out because it also features the first appearance of the Disco Dazzler, another character Pete's fond of.

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Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Happy Birthday Pete! 

I love you so much I can't even begin to tell you...so I'll just plaster it all over the internet instead!


Me & Pete



Ain't he sweet?


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Monday, September 27, 2004

Adventures in Comics Inventory Control 

--We've yet to sell a single copy of Brian Pulido's new comic. Even the Crossgen version of Lady Death sold decently, and Chaos fans in our store were very vocal about not liking it, but these new Avatar books seem dead on arrival. No, strike that, we've had a couple of pre-orders on Killer Gnomes.

--NYC Mech sold out it's first issue...and we've yet to sell a single copy of any subsequent issues. Now, extend that sales pattern to every new Image title to come out in the last year that doesn't have zombies in it.

--We can't give any of Beckett's comics away...

--On a related note, and despite upping orders on each issue, we can't keep Ex Machina or Sleeper Season 2 in stock.

--I can't believe we sold out of Harry Johnson.

--In the most recent issue of Comics and Games Retailer (shh! Don't tell anyone I mentioned it! If you don't work in a comic-book store you're not supposed to know the magazine exists...), the publisher of Archie Comics wrote in to urge comics retailers to shelve Archie's super-hero trade paperbacks (Shield, Crusaders and The Fly) in the "super-hero" section, rather than the children's comics section. Well, that was what I was doing all along...and the only people who ever come in looking for them always look in the children's section for them...because Archie has gone out of their way over the last forty years to convince everyone that they are a children's comics publisher...it seems a bit late in the game to me to go and try to change the rules on everyone.

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Last Weeks Comics 

The Witching #4: Positively glacial pacing aside, I find I'm enjoying the humor of this book immensely. Would people be bored or interested to know that this title is actually selling decently for us, especially to women and the "goth" kids?

Ultimate Elektra #2: Elektra finally puts on something resembling the costume most people are familiar with...and it's to disguise herself as a hooker. And for the sake of all that is decent, can't we just pretend that the Bullseye costume in the movie was a bad idea and not replicate it in the comics?

Ultimate Fantastic Four #11: A nice tease of action and some good dialogue from Ellis, but otherwise this felt like a place-holder issue. It was padding, because Marvel is now apparently incapable of publishing anything that isn't in a six-issue arc.

Nightcrawler #1: Remember when Nightcrawler was the devil-may-care swashbuckling adventurer, instead of an angst-filled, morose, "my appearance has alienated me from the rest of mankind" type? I miss that Nightcrawler. He isn't here, either.

Flash #214: I'm half-surprised there isn't some big logo splashed across the top of the book "Identity Crisis Continues Here!" As tie-ins go, it's pretty good. The relevant information is retold and no new information impacts the main story. And the scene with the Rogues makes me think that H's theory is probably correct. However, I've got to say, I'm not much of a fan of Johns' take on this title. I don't think the Flash works as a gritty crime-drama. And the increasingly self-referential nature of the title (which isn't just the fault of Johns, Waid's run is almost unreadable at times for the same reason) is bringing the series closer to Legion territory, where the only people who can bother to wade through the continuity to understand a story are people who have been reading the title for the last twenty to thirty or more years.

Runaways #18: A nice send-off to the cast, all things considered. As many loose ends as we can expect to get tied up get tied up, and the gang gets a very open ending to pave the way for future adventures.

Robin #130, Batgirl #56 and Catwoman #35: Well, I certainly didn't guess that the mysterious figure taking advantage of the chaos of the gang-war to take over all the criminal cartels was the character who died a couple of years ago over in Catwoman...With what they've done to Spoiler in these three issues, I swear it's almost as if DC is deliberately baiting people to accuse them of misogyny. Proctor's art on Robin literally made my eyes hurt. And I feel I should point out, just to answer some people's concerns, that at our store at least sales on Catwoman did actually improve once Gulacy took over on art, which suggests to me that the Toth-esque look the book originally had wasn't a selling point for lots of people.

Plastic Man #10: A cute, done-in-one story which will doubtlessly sell really well as a back-issue once word gets around to the people who only buy comic books with vampires in them that there are vampires in this. Also of note: the ads in this book are the same as the ads in the kid's books DC publishes, which says a lot about the audience DC thinks is reading this title. And, to be fair, we do have several kids pick this up on a regular basis.

Manhunter #2: We pull back a little this issue and get more into character development and foreshadowing here. It looks like there's going to be a little more depth and complexity and moral ambiguity to the character than "kill the bad guys" which, really, we've got The Punisher as written by anyone other than Garth Ennis if that's all we're looking for in a comic.

Ex Machina #4: The obvious suspect is almost a little too obvious, don't you think? And I may be the only one, but as someone who actually likes modern art and makes an effort to understand it, the conversation between the intern and the artist this issue was dead-on as an indictment of most modern art, and more importantly most critical reception to modern art...except of course for the part where the artist is self-aware enough to realize that her work is a joke...that never actually happens...

Conan #8: Our first look into Conan's childhood is really quite an impressive issue. Ruth's art is fantastic and Busiek makes a strong case for the child being the father of the man, as it were.

Astonishing X-Men #5:...uhm...yeah...I'm just going to have to go back to pretending that they just stopped publishing X-Titles entirely after Morrison left, aren't I?

Teen Titans #16: Ugh...can't...be...bothered...to...care...about...Legion...continuity...

Nodwick #25 and ps238 #7: It's an Aaron Williams double-feature! The funniest fantasy series and the greatest book about kid super-heroes both released on the same day! Williams' has a great "cartoony" style and his writing is very funny and very clever and very character driven. I can't recommend ps238 highly enough. Go! Go buy the trade at least!

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Saturday, September 25, 2004

Subtext? What Subtext? 



Wait, it gets better:



Meltzer, Marz? Amateurs...You want disturbing things done to women in a DC comic, you got to go old-school for the truly horrific stuff, baby!

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Friday, September 24, 2004

Why Movies Based on Comic Books Aren't Any Good, Part 1 



The American film-going public is not going to sit through two hours of an attempt to seriously replicate that look. And yes, I have seen the trailer and I have seen the stills. They're laughable. The audience is going to take one look at the bright yellow guy and burst out laughing.

And that is why trying to turn a comic book into a movie while remaining "faithful" to the souce material is a bad idea. Because comic books and movies are not the same thing. What works on the printed page in static form, design-wise, is not going to be the same thing when actual human beings are in motion replicating it.

Likewise, and particularly in the case of super-hero comics and movies, there are certain elements to capes-and-tights stories that through repeated exposure comic readers have learned to accept without question. Probably something like 99% of the people who go to see movies based on super-hero comics have never actually read any of the comics the film is based on. So you have to explain what comic readers accept to them, and in such a way that it sounds plausible to them. But more often than not, this just points out the absurdities of the premise.

Remember the big to-do over the possibility of a Green Lantern movie? How everyone was upset that it was going to be a comedy, instead of the grand epic melodrama that every Green Lantern fan felt it should be. He makes giant green boxing gloves with a magic ring that's powerless against anything colored yellow. It's an inane premise for a character. It is not going to translate to the general audience as a "serious" character.

However, taking liberties with the source material often makes for super-hero movies that, if not actually good, are at least enjoyable on their own merits. People ranted for months about how the X-Men wouldn't be wearing costumes in the movies. They complained that the leather uniform look made all the characters "gay." Which, in light of the very obvious mutation as metaphor for homosexuality theme that Bryan Singer went with, said quite a bit about the open-mindedness of the average X-Men fan. But here's the thing: the very concept of the X-Men is absurd...people controlling the weather, turning blue and growing tails, changing shape, shooting lasers out of their eyes...it's silly and it's nonsensical. Putting them all in brightly colored skin-tight costumes would have completely alienated the film's target audience. Putting the characters into "real-world" costumes grounds them a little bit and makes them more relatable to the audience.

This is not a trend that pertains solely to movies based on super-hero comics, however. It applies to mainstream comics works as well. A faithful adaptation of Ghost World would not have been a success. It would have been a meandering, story-less exercise in wasting film. So, they took the characters and put them in a new situation. And it worked.

Of course, the danger in all adaptations, comics and non-comics alike, is that the producers will fundamentally miss the point of the source material. This is a particular danger when it comes to more intellectually demanding pieces. It often becomes apparent that either the film's creators aren't smart enough to figure out what the original author was doing, or they don't think the audience is. My favorite comics example of this is the From Hell movie. It's almost as if the producers of the film didn't know that the Jack the Ripper killings are an established historical fact, not an invention of Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell, and thus could have made the same exact film without having to actually give Mssrs. Moore and Campbell any money. The point of the book was not "Who is Jack the Ripper?" and to turn an adaptation of it into a whodunnit movie completely misses the larger message of the work.

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Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Late Night on New Comics Day 

  • Regarding Robin #130: Dear God DC, just don't do anything bad to a female supporting cast member for at least a year! That's all I ask.

  • We got the first two volumes of the Grant Morrison Doom Patrol in today. I wonder how many volumes the John Byrne DP will get up to? Actually, scratch that...I wonder how many issues the Byrne DP will get up to?

  • So flipping through the most recent issue of Plastic Man I noticed that it's got the same ads as the DC kids books, rather than the ads the rest of the DCU titles get. I noticed the same thing in Action comics last week. Meanwhile, over at Marvel, it looks like the MAX books are carrying the same ads as the Marvel Age books...

  • Still playing with the look of the page. This is sort of a compromise between the "clean" look I wanted and a division between links and content. I also added a link to my pal Jed's art-site.

  • For those of you who don't know him personally, if you actually manage to make Mike mad, that's generally an indication that you really fucked up.

  • A scene I want to see in the upcoming Green Lantern series:
    "Well, you know Hal, that may not be the best way..."
    "Fuck you! I was the fucking Wrath of God! What have you got? Your parents died? Your planet blew up? Boo-fucking-hoo! I was in Hell!"
    "Uhm...yeah...right...carry on then Hal..."


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Homage or Theft? 



Any resemblence to a "friendly ghost" who hangs out with a tough, derby-wearing ghost and a "good witch" is purely coincidental...

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Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Sundry Notes  

--Added a couple of sites to the side-bar, including Behind the Times, a retro-review site by Rick Gebhardt, Will Pfeifer's blog, and Gaymer, a site for gay video-game players.

--Speaking of the side-bar...how do people feel about the "no lines" look? I'm not sold on it entirely...I thought it would create a "cleaner" look and I think it just makes it hard to differentiate between "content" and "links"...but I hated those stupid transparent bars on the table lay-out, and I couldn't find a way to easily code solid lines.

--So...the Fantastic Four movie...I kind of like the costumes and the make-up/costume for the Thing. If I have to gripe I'd say that they cast too old for Johnny and too young for Reed. And we need to stop pretending that John Byrne and his fans have anything of merit to say on any subject, ever.

From the man himself:
Personal prejudice: Hispanic and Latino women
with blond hair look like hookers to me, no matter
how clean or "cute" they are. Somehow those skin
tones that look so good with dark, dark hair just don't
work for me with lighter shades.

Isn't this the point at which someone should say that
casting a Black actor as Alicia is "interesting" and we
should not pass judgement until we see the
performance, because "the performance is what
matters"? You know, the usual PC bullshit.


From his sycophants:
Apparently, they've cast a black actress as Alicia Masters (I'm sure the director could find no white actresses who could play blind convincingly enough). This somehow manages to lessen my interest in the film, which was nonexistent already.

I AM wearying fast of this self-conscious, politically correct angle they're taking to the material. The Marvel universe already has terrific black characters w/o having to change everyone's race in some hollow, condescending gesture to a cliche.

A black Alicia? Silly, unless she happens to look
white. No, there's no law that says she HAS to be white but she
SHOULD be white.

PC "New Think" doesn't help anybody but if it makes you feel smug then I guess it does what it was intended to do...

Yes, that's right, calling a racist statement a racist statement is "Smug PC New Think!" The John Byrne Forum truly is the last bastion of reasoned discourse on the net!

And the capper, again from Byrne:
What we've seen here
today is an all too typical example of an all too typical
attitude: those who are the loudest to defend their
"freedom of speech" are the quickest to try to slap
down anyone whose "speech" differs from theirs.
The standard "all opinions are valid as long as I
agree with them".


From the man who regularly deletes posts that contradict the "World-According-To-Byrne."



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Mr. Monster: Worlds War II 

I've never actually read a comic with Mr. Monster in it before, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I cracked this one open. It's funny. No, I mean it's really funny. I was having a rough week, and what I really needed to cheer me up was a super-hero in an absurd situation doing horrible things to bad guys, and this was exactly the remedy I needed.

The story opens with a flash-back to 1953, and the first foray of the Nazi Martians to Earth. Yes, you read that right: Nazi Martians. The very concept alone makes me happy in a "wrong, but funny" kind of way. Fifteen years later the Nazi Martian's brain-controlled agent, Col. Walter Wood, is busy distracting Doc Stearn and the US Military so that they will be unavailable to fight against the invasion. Luckily a brave hippie reporter, Acid Annie, manages to sneak into the highly guarded and on alert Air Force base to let Doc Stearn know that Mr. Monster is needed to fight the alien menace. Which he does for a gloriously gory 48 pages, leading up to a climactic battle with the Nazi Martian leader...nah, I'm not going to spoil the surprise. It's good, though, in that "wrong, but funny" kind of way again.

Michael Gilbert's story is absurd and clever and filled with more references to classic Sci-Fi movies than even I could keep track of. The pencils and inks of George Freeman are quite attractive and remind me quite a bit of Bernie Wrightson's work, which is very apt given the subject matter. The whole package is in color for $6.99 from Atomeka and will be on sale at all good comic book stores...well, tomorrow actually. It's well worth the price, especially for connoisseurs of the groteseque and humorous like myself.

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Monday, September 20, 2004

Too...many...comics 

Don't be like me! Don't read two weeks worth of comics in one sitting! You'll kill any desire to even think about comics ever again if you do! (And yes, that does explain why you've been seeing music reviews and naked men around here lately.)

Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight # 183, Nightwing #97 and Batman: Gotham Knights #57: Wow...Batman's not very bright if it took him this long to realize that a) this was his plan all along and b) it's Spoiler's fault. Poor Orpheus. See, supporting cast members really are expendable!

Ultimate X-Men #51: More incestuous mutants...Chris Claremeont is to blame for the Strucker twins, isn't he. And at this rate the only X-Man Wolverine won't have had sex with is Colossus.

Ultimate Nightmare #2: 22 pages of exposistion to get the characters to travel from Point A to Point B. If I didn't know better, I'd think Bendis had written this.

Outsiders #15: Apparently I'm the only person who likes the art on this title.

Teen Titans #15: I liked how Johns "fixed" Garth's origin to remove any mention of the Doom Patrol, but did it in such a way that once Byrne's mistake is undone Garth could still have been a member.

Fables #29: A wolfman fighting Nazis and Frankenstein's Monster. My kind of comic.

JSA #65: Eh...it was okay I guess. The reliance on continuity is both the greatest strength and weakness of the title.

She-Hulk #7: First issue that didn't work for me. I just...don't care about Marvel's "cosmic" characters. Neat cover, though.

Pulse #5 and Spider-Man #6: Both Millar and Bendis think they're more clever than their actual skill as writers have proved them to be, but they both get points for finally dealing with that stupid, stupid, stupid bit about how nobody knows Osborn is the Green Goblin.

Challengers of the Unknown: Fairly review proof at this point. Some much needed exposistion reared it's head.

Gotham Central #23: It explicitly ties in to the War Games story, but doesn't carry the tag. Is it because they don't want to risk pissing off Goth Cent readers by alerting them to the fact that it's part of a cross-over? And there is some terrible fanboy part of me that kind of hopes that this Corrigan charcter running around will eventually tie-in to the Spectre/Hal Jordan/Green Lantern drama.

Fallen Angel #15 and Bloodhound #3: I'm still digging on the low-powered, morally ambiguous character's DC's been putting out lately. Both titles are worth a look if you're curious at all.

Madrox #1: I fear I have to be the voice of dissent here. While there's nothing wrong, per se, with this title, and it does avoid some of the pitfalls of Marvel First Issue Syndrome (all set-up, no action or character), it still suffers heavily from Mutant Title Complex, which is the fact that unless you've read a good number of the past titles with these characters in them you have no idea who they are, how they know each other, or why they're behaving the way they do.

Aquaman #22: Surprisingly good, and Pfeifer has a good grasp on Bats as well. Makes me wonder how he'd do on a Batman book.

Hawkman #32: Also quite good, a fun done-in-one book, with nods to quite a few sci-fi films thrown in for good measuere.

Action #819 and Adventures of Superman #632: These make for interesting back-to-back reading. Heck, Adventures could almost be read as a counter-argument to the rather bleak portrayal of the Clark/Lois relationship Austen presents in Action. It's also worth noting that DC is putting the same ads into Action that they put into the kids comics, instead of the ads that go into the DCU super-hero books.

Wolverine #19 and JLA #105: Johanna says it better than I ever could.

Identity Disc #4: Okay Rob, we get it. You've seen The Usual Suspects. The Vulture is Keyser Soze. Please go back to writing good comics.

Strange #1: I bought this only because Pete has a standing rule about wanting to read the comics about magic-using characters. I've never been a fan of Doc Strange, and I'm getting the strong impression that Straczynski is nowhere near as good a writer as he thinks he is. Was there a point to this? Is there some new Doctor Strange movie in production that this new origin is supposed to resemble? Does this book only exist to pry an extra $3.50 a month out of Marvel's readers?

Books of Magick: Life During Wartime #3: I've got no objection to Tim Hunter as a character, but unless we get some damn exposistion and back-story in this book pretty damn quickly it's going to end up on the pile of books only Pete reads, along with X-Men: The End and Spider-Girl.

Bite Club #6: Well that was completely unexpected...and yet, somehow, I feel I should have seen it coming. Oh, and apparently I'm the only person who likes the art on this title as well.

Wanted #5: Y'know, Millar could have put a little more effort into rewriting his Secret Society of Super-Villains proposal that DC (apparently) rejected...I sort of liked this at the beginning, but Millar is quite clearly just pushing people's buttons for the sake of pushing their buttons.

Terra Obscura Vol. 2 #2: I get some strange thrill out of the fact that someone out there is terribly offended by they way they've "disrespected" the characters by (shock-gasp-horror) slightly changing them from the way they were portrayed seventy years ago.

Jane's World #15: GO BUY IT ALREADY!!! Heck, if the comic written by a straight man about lesbians who only find happiness and fulfillment when they're in a relationship with a man can become a critical success, an actually funny book about women who have romantic relationships with women should be getting more attention than it is.

JLA Secret Files 2004: The only thing worth reading was Busiek's teaser for his upcoming JLA run, and that wasn't worth $5.

JSA: Strange Adventures #2: Wildcat fighting Nazi robots! Genius!

Identity Crisis #4:...Oh, forget it, I'm not even going to bother trying to say anything about it. Everyone's made their mind up about it already, so what's the point?
(Okay, one thing: Inner Fanboy was most amused by the fact that "discovering religion" in the DCU means Kobra.)

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More Music to Torment Customers and Coworkers With 

Donovan's Greatest Hits: We'll ignore the potential geek over-load of listening to "Sunshine Superman" in a comic-book store, shall we? The music if fairly melodic and catchy and is perfectly reasonable for background noise. And if you stop and listen, Donovan's usual method of "talking" a song at you works fairly well with his lyrics.

Voltaire: Boo Hoo: The only Goth with a sense of humor, as far as I can tell. He takes himself a little too seriously on a few tracks (he is a Goth after all), which is kind of surprising, because you'd think by now he'd know that his primary audience isn't particularly interested in mediocre songs about the ennui of the universe and the bleak despair of existence, but would rather just listen to some darkly funny songs, but there you go.

New Amsterdams: Worse for the Wear: I wasn't paying attention when I bought this album and mistakenly thought that this was the one where they cover an Afghan Whigs song. It's not, but I liked it anyway. It's college/alternative rock/pop. Nice melodies and lyrics, but somewhat self-important at times. Oh, and the CD case is a cardboard sleeve. Remember when CDs just came in jewel-boxes and nobody was trying to impress anyone with their increasingly obtuse ways to put CDs into sleeves?

Tom Jones: Reload: Everyone's favorite Welsh singer in duets covering rock songs. I mean, the high concept alone marks it out as a work of pure genius. Add to that a cover of "Are You Going To Go My Way" with Robbie Williams and there should have been little doubt in anyone's mind that I was going to have to own this.

Jeffrey Altergott: Runt: One of the joys of the internet is that it makes it really easy to find quality music you've never heard before. One guy with a great voice and a guitar singing. It's something we've seen before, but it's been years since a singer/songwriter with this much immediate talent came around. And you can buy his albums before everyone else finds out about him and then you get to be able to say you were an early fan of his music. Pete's the music expert, and he absolutely loved this as well. He was a bit scandalized that Jeff's not famous, to be honest.

The Rocky Horror Show: The New Broadway Cast Recording: I've actually had this one for awhile, but I've been playing it quite a bit lately. Apparently I have Rocky Horror on my mind. Can't imagine why. It's been several years now since I was in a cast in any capacity. I've always liked this music though, and despite the fact that Lea Delaria can't sing a note to save her life, this is a really good version of the music. I really wish I'd been able to see this production. Tom Hewitt is fantastic as Frank. He plays homage to Tim Curry, but he still makes the character his own, which is quite an achievement. Having seen the LA production with David Arquette as Frank, I know just how bad a poor performance as Frank can be, and Hewitt's got a great voice and he just rocks out in the role.

We Will Rock You: The Rock Theatrical: Ben Elton, the man behind Young Ones and Blackadder, turns the music of Freddie Mercury into a marvelously campy and overdone rock opera. I've not seen this show yet either, but by God, next time I'm in Vegas I'm going to give it a damned good try to take a look at it. This album has a great vocal cast, and it's a fun way to approach the task of covering Queen's music.

Martina Topley-Bird: Anything: I bought this on a whim and I don't regret it one bit. She's got a very romantic, bluesy voice backed by dreamy electronica musical tones. It's more good background music, very calming and smooth. It helps to take the edge off of a stressful day.

The Polyphonic Spree: Together We're Heavy: The follow-up album is usually the make-it-or-break-it project for bands. This is a similar beast to their first album. If you liked The Beginning Stages of... you'll probably like this. And if you didn't, well, you won't like this, probably. The Spree wisely decided to make more music in the style that their audience obviously craves, rather than try any risky experimental moves. Overall, I'd say that this album is probably better than the first one, and holds together better overall. There are no break-out songs like "Soldier Girl" or "Sun" this time around, but the album feels more designed as an organic whole, rather than a collection of songs. It's great, happy, joyful music.

Scissor Sisters: I got a bit ahead of the curve on this one. I found a remix of "Comfortably Numb" online, did some digging, found an import copy of this album, and then a month later they're all over the music press and VH-1 to support this official US release of the album (with two songs excised...hee-hee!). It's the return of glam, Jake Shears is the bastard child of Elton John and David Bowie, and all the hype is deserved. Fantastic songs and music utterly unlike anything anyone else is doing right now. Smart, funny and catchy. And the fact that half of the hot guys in the band are gay is just a bonus as far as I can tell.

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Friday, September 17, 2004

Healthy-Looking Men 

Johnny B has a nice picture up today that could best be described as "girlie cheesecake pin-up art." And it is a very nice picture. But not everyone's into cheesecake. I've mentioned before that I'm a fan of vintage beefcake photography, so I thought I'd share a photo of that school, so that there's something for everyone on the blogosphere today.


John Tristram


More photos in this style can be found at Brian's Drive-In Theater, which also features photo galleries on the men who have played Hercules and Tarzan over the years.

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Thursday, September 16, 2004

Again, Conversations I'm Tired Of Having With Customers 

--"Is the new issue of Chronically Late Title out yet?"
No, not yet.
"Do you know when it's coming out?"
No, sorry. All I know is when it was supposed to come out. I haven't seen a new release date show up in any of the information we get from our distributor.
"So, when will you know when it's coming in?"
I have no way of knowing when they will announce a new on-sale date.
"Why not?"
BECAUSE I'M NOT FREAKING PSYCHIC!

There is a related conversation, and it's the one that goes into the "But it's out at Location X already" direction. This is where I get to make my speech about how sometimes, because of the way our primary distributor has their system set-up, it's not unusal for some items to reach different parts of the country at different times. This happened with every single issue of Cerebus over the last three years of its run, as I recall. Stores on the East Coast would receive copies the week before stores on the West Coast. The other thing that happens is that non-comic items like toys, DVDs and magazines will go through their primary distribution channels before going through comic distribution channels. So we get those items very, very late. I've had customers who special-order items like that tell me that I should complain to our distributor so that they fix that "problem." If I had that kind of power over our distributor, believe me I'd use it for far more important things than making sure that we get DVDs on time.

--A child, under 12 years of age, will enter the store and say "Do you have any Kill Bill comics?"
No, there's no such thing.
"Oh. Well how about Reservoir Dogs?"
No, there are no comic books based on Quentin Tarantino movies.
"Oh. Well are there any comic books based on Jason X?"
No, I'm afraid not.
"Well, do you have any back issues of Faust or Horny Biker Sluts?"

I swear, some people must not even realize they have children, judging by what they let their kids get away with...

--"Is this issue of Savage Foot Patrol Squad any good?"
Sorry, I don't read it.
"Do you read Exciting Teflon-Man?"
Nope, sorry. Don't read that one either.
"Well what about Terrifying Tales of the House of Secret Dark Sinister Forbidden Secret Dark Tales of Terror and Horror?"
Naw, sorry.
"So what comics do you read then?"
Oh, lots of different things. (While I try to look busy, because I've gotten trapped in this conversation a couple of times and it never ends well.)
"Like what? What's your favorite comic?"
(Desperately trying to think of a comic that no one could possibly have a strong opinion on that I wouldn't mind having people think I read) Oh, I like Innocuous and Pleasently Drawn Indie Title well enough."

At which point I get either: "Really! Me too! Let me spend the next two hours talking to you about it while you try to work!" or "EW! How could you like that piece of crap! Let me spend the next several hours telling you all about how much I hate that title!"

Which is why I adopted the rule that unless I know for certain that a customer will be able to appreciate an honest opinion from me, whenever they ask about a movie, comic, tv show, book, band, etc. my answer is going to be I've never seen it, read it, or heard it.

--Oh, and I can't disguise the names of the titles for this next one, because otherwise the story won't make any sense. Now, usually I try not to worry too much about customers mispronouncing the names of comic book titles, characters or publishers. Because it's no big deal, it was usually just a slip of the tongue anyway, and 99.9% of the time I know what they meant to say in any case. But recently I've had two instances that fall into that .1% where because the customer didn't know how to pronounce the word, I couldn't figure out what they were trying to find. And in both of these cases these were people who spoke English as their first language.

"Do you have any comics with Magenta in them?"
I'm sorry, the name doesn't really sound familiar to me.
"Well, I just really like Magenta, and wanted to know what comics Magenta was in. I saw a movie with Magenta the other day."
Oh, do you mean Rocky Horror Picture Show? Because there were some comics based on that.
"No, it was Magenta and he fought a bunch of other people and he like stole a helicopter or something."
I'm sorry, I don't know what movie or comic that might be.
"Well, it had like Wolverine and Storm and Nightcrawler in it too."
You mean Magneto, from X-Men.
"Yeah, that's what I said, Magenta."

I'm sorry, but after two movies and two cartoon series, I really don't think there's any reason for people to be mispronouncing Magneto anymore...

The other incident was:
"Do you have any Fan Film comics?"
You mean, comics based on amateur movies?
"No, Fan Film, the character."
I'm not aware of any characters named Fan Film. Do you know who published it or worked on it?
"Yeah, Image published it, and Michael Turner drew it."
So, you're looking for Fathom comics?
"Yeah, that's what I said, Fan Film."

So, of course I showed him our Elementals back issues, because I'm a jerk. No, I kid. Or do I?


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Late Night Notes 

--I'm tweaking the side-bar a little...fine-tuning it, moving things around, playing with the lay-out...don't be surprised if you see changes every time I update. And since I'm moving links around, I wouldn't be surprised if I might have lost one or two. So, if you have a regularly updated site, and it's disappeared from my side-bar, and you haven't done anything to piss me off (and believe me, you'd most likely know if you had...), just drop me an e-mail and I'll add you back on.

I'm considering adding some sub-domains, mostly to put up some stuff that is probably only going to be of limited interest to the world at large but I still want to put up, if only for my own amusement. Those may be appearing and disappearing over the next few days, depending on my mood and how successful I thought I was. Or not. I am, after all, a fundamentally lazy person.

--I've been thinking about those Dreadstar trades that Dynamic Forces put out. I'm kind of tempted, but I'm pretty sure I have both the direct-market and news-stand editions of at least the first six or seven issues already. Plus, I'm reasonably certain that I could find all twelve issues reprinted in the books for less than the price of one of the soft-cover editions, much less both soft-cover editions or the hard-cover. Still, it's nice to have the collected editions available.

(On a related note, I checked our back-stock of Dreadstar comics, just to make sure we had plenty on hand in case we saw a big rush of interest in the comics, spurred on by the trades...we do, and there hasn't been.)

--One of the things we often do on New Comics Day in the morning as we're unpacking, sorting and counting comics is listen to comedy albums. The new Patton Oswalt disc is quite good, and David Cross's work is always worth a listen. Stephen Lynch's stuff is a riot, though not for those with sensitive ears. Eddie Izzard always work out really well too. Every once in awhile we'll let Mike put in a Firesign Theater album, and it seems to make him happy though it's not really my thing. He needs to bring in his Margaret Cho albums more often though. Not that that's a broad hint or anything.

Anyway, if there's any kind of point to the above I think it's this: listening to stuff that's supposed to be funny puts us in the proper mood for dealing with New Comics Day, which tends to be the most stressful and aggravating day to work in a comic book store, except for Christmas Eve. Or a New Comics Day that falls on Christmas Eve.

--I was cleaning out my old bedroom at my Mother's place the other day, and I managed to find the Cracked specials that reprinted all the John Severin illustrated "Talking Blob" stories and the "Cracked Movie Musicals." These are the two issues of Cracked that I've most wanted to make sure I still own, as I remembered thinking even as a kid that they were works of pure artistic and satiric genius (hey, I was a kid!). Naturally, I found them under the bed. Which at one point was a water-bed. Which I had to replace because the water-bed sprung a leak. And shortly after I replaced the water-mattress with a real mattress the roof sprung a leak. So, what I actually managed to find were two water-damaged paper-pulp bricks that used to be issues of Cracked magazine. And so the search to replace those issues begins...

--Oh, and I looked at our preview copy of Avengers #502 and all I have to say is...if you don't want everyone to figure out who the villain is, you probably shouldn't have that person be conspicuous in their absence.

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Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Hey Lady! 



Yes, that is a money tree Jerry is growing. And yes, the cover does accurately reflect the interior content.

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Tuesday, September 14, 2004

DC in December 

DC Titles for December

Batman Family
Some nice covers by David Lapham, Scott Morse, Michael Lark and Matt Wagner.

I didn't just see the word catfight in relation to Catwoman and Cheetah in the solicitation for Catwoman: When in Rome did I? That is quite possibly one of the dumbest jokes I've ever heard...something I'd expect from Marvel's solicitations, to be honest.

Otherwise, this looks remarkably like the same-old, same-old from the Bat titles. Nothing to get too excited about.

Superman Family
See my above comment on same-old, same-old.

DC Universe
This is the third regular writer Aquaman has had in two years. Can someone please pick a direction for this book and stick with it.

At $20 for only half-the-story, I can't imagine that anyone is going to be too thrilled with the trade paper-back for DC: The New Frontier. It feels like a miscalculation to split the story up. Sure, manga readers don't mind having a story told over several volumes, but the primary appeal of super-hero trades is that you can read the entire story in one book. I think this is going to hurt long-term sales, as well. We sell, on average, a copy of Watchmen a week. I don't think we'd sell so many if it was split up into two or three separate books.

I'll give Deadshot a shot. I'm digging this low-level, grungy DCU that's popped up in books like Bloodhound and Manhunter and Monolith, and this looks to be in that same vein.

I'm guilty of my share of snarky comments about Michael Turner's art, but the cover to Identity Crisis #7 is really quite nice. Must be because there are no actual humans in it...(sorry, couldn't resist)

JLA: Classified brings us Batman vs. Gorilla Grodd. I can't say that I hold out much hope for the post-Morrison quality of this series, but the first three issues should be loads of fun.

Over in JLA something horrible has apparently happened to Power Ring, if the cover is anything to go by. So, the HEAT fans weren't content with getting rid of Kyle from the regular DCU, they had to get rid of him from the Crime Syndicate's universe as well?

That time-travel/Per Degaton story they've been hinting at in JSA for awhile now finally starts. I've always had a soft-spot for Degaton, and I've liked Johns portrayal of him. It's the first time I can think of that he's been portrayed with any real sense of menace. The Alex Ross cover just bores me, however, as almost all his covers tend to do. And that's despite featuring Wildcat.

The Legion of Super-Heroes is another reboot after all...this one looks like it is indeed setting the status quo back to the way it was in the 60s, when all the people currently reading Legion comics first started reading Legion comics. Only this time, they have "hip" costumes and "edgy" personalities and will probably have "wide-screen" stories...

Could the solicitation for Plastic Man be any more vague?

The second issue of Solo with Corben doing horror comics sounds much more promising than the first, with Sale doing super-hero comics.

Johnny DC
To be honest, I occasionally pick up a copy of Powerpuff Girls for my cousins, and that's about it. And that's not listed this month. Although a double-dose of Courage the Cowardly Dog and Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy may prompt me to get Cartoon Network Block Party.

Beyond the DCU
Yeah, there's not a damned thing here I'm going to buy, or am even vaguely interested in. I still maintain that trying to do a "played for straight" version of Space Ghost is an exercise in futility.

2000AD and Humanoids
Usually there's at least one title here that sounds interesting, but nada this month. I might have been curious about Shimura, if only for the Frank Quitely art, but everything Dredd related bores me.

Wildstorm
Astro City: The Dark Age starts up. This is a good thing. If nothing else, it means that I can actually give Pete an answer when he asks me when the next issue of Astro City is coming out.

The second Global Frequency trade comes out, which is also a good thing as the first trade is still a pretty strong seller for us.

For the rest of the section, well...pretty much take my comments about the Wildstorm solicitations from past months and repeat them here. All the stuff I've said looks good in the past still looks good, and all the stuff I'm not too thrilled with I'm still not too thrilled with.

Vertigo
We can never keep the Adventures in the Rifle Brigade minis in stock, so a trade is very welcome. Whether it'll sell is another story. I'm starting to notice a phenomenon with Garth Ennis fans similar to what I see with Sam Kieth fans (i.e. they say they're a Kieth fan, but they only buy his stuff if it's got Wolverine in it...), and that's the people who say that they're Ennis fans, but they won't buy anything other than Preacher or Punisher. Kind of makes me wonder why we never seem to have any of the Rifle Brigade issues...

DC is preparing for a spike in demand for John Constantine material, and the cover to All His Engines is certainly impressive, although the story doesn't sound entirely dissimilar to about a dozen other Hellblazer stories. Let's hope that the movie isn't a total bomb, so that comic-book stores don't get stuck with dozens of these things.

Trigger is apparently a blend of "Blade Runner, Minority Report and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow!" Well, so it's like a passable Philip K. Dick adaptation, a terrible Dick adaptation, and something in no way like the first two movies, all rolled into one really dull and generic title (which, ironically, sounds more like the criminally under-rated Equilibrium than any of the films they mention).

The covers for Witching and Y: The Last Man are quite nice, but you don't need me to tell you that.

For the rest of Vertigo's titles, apply my approach to Wildstorm titles. What looked good before still looks bad. What I didn't care about before, I still don't care about.

DC Direct

That sound you're hearing when you look at the commissioner Gordon and Alfred action figures is the bottom of the barrel being scraped in a desperate attempt to find characters drawn by Jim Lee to turn into action figures.

I swear, whenever I look at the DC Direct section all it tells me is that there are comic-book fans out there with more money than sense or taste. Which I already knew. At least nothing too offensive sticks out this time. People already collect plates, so I can live with the Alex Ross plate, and I can't diss sculpture, but it's the "Bat-Utility Belt" replicas and stuff like that which always makes me wonder: who has the money to waste on something like that?


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Monday, September 13, 2004

"This is so gay" 



So, apparently there was some other discussion of gay issues in comics today. Specifically, whether the above usage in the most recent issue of Robert Kirkman's Invincible is appropriate or offensive. Now, I don't normally read the book. I tried the first issue and was underwhelmed. I had the same response to The Walking Dead and every other Kirkman book I've looked at to be honest. So, I have no particular interest in either attacking or defending the man's work. The defenders of the above phrase say that it's excusable because teenagers actually talk that way, and besides the phrase is meant to indicate that something is "lame" not as a perjorative, anti-gay sentiment. Which is nonsense, of course. Yes, some teenagers do talk that way, but there is no way the phrase is meant to be anything other than a homophobic slur. It is precisely intended to indicate that something is "lame" because it reminds the speaker of something that the speaker considers indicative of homosexuality. And that this is apparently a running gag with the character in question is irrelevant. If it's wrong once, it's wrong every time. So, speaking as an actual, factual homosexual (something most of the people commenting on this do not appear to be, which I'll get to in a moment), I have to say that yes, I do happen to find the phrase both inappropriate and offensive.

In fact, this particular usage is a pet peeve of mine. I've been known to tell off people who I hear using it in the store (usually gamers, as it turns out...oh the irony...). I somehow doubt that my high school experience was atypical in this regard, but it does bear pointing out that when I was in high school there were only four words you could call someone, in front of a teacher no less, and be reasonably confident you would not face any kind of disciplinary action. Those words were "gay," homo," "faggot" and "queer."

Now, do I place any blame on Robert Kirkman for this, or feel that he is somehow to be held in contempt for this usage. No, of course not. It's not his fault people talk this way. As a writer attempting to craft naturalistic dialogue he needs to write accurate teenage slang. It wouldn't have killed him to use a phrase that wasn't homophobic in nature, but I doubt it ever even occurred to him that people might have a problem with this phrase. Which is why I say that society is to blame. American culture as a whole is responsible, for failing to teach children that homophobic language is just as offensive and inappropriate as any other kind of racist or sexist slur.

But to return to an earlier point, I do find it somewhat entertaining that people are falling all over themselves to discuss this (yes, me too, so save us all some time and don't leave a comment about it, ok? I'm well aware of the irony/hypocrisy of talking about this and making fun of other people for talking about it). The only other time I see this happen is when something bad happens to a female character in a super-hero comic. Suddenly people who couldn't articulate the differences between Andrea Dworkin's and Nadine Strossen's views on pornography (hint: only one of them thinks it's bad), or how Marxist theory has informed contemporary academic feminism and how that relates to the currently fashionable homophobic readings of theorists like Foucault (go read some Eve Sedgwick or Craig Owens--and I'm not saying that feminists are homophobic, so spare us all the comments on that score as well please) are suddenly experts on gender theory. (My reading of such events is that 95% of the time something bad happens because the character is part of the supporting cast, and therefore expendable, not because the character is female. It may be a cliche to kill/injure the wife/girl-friend to motivate the male hero, but to argue that's it's misogynistic is putting too fine a point on it, I think.) It just makes me all kinds of grateful that there are all these heterosexual white men out there to tell all the women and queers what they should and shouldn't be offended by.

...Wow, that's a lot of talking about a book I don't even read, isn't it.

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Marvel and Gay Characters: Hulk Magazine #23 



So Bruce Banner is staying in the YMCA and decides to take a shower. As he enters he is eyed by two...well, to be honest, I'm not quite sure what they're supposed to be. Are they meant to be gay? Are they meant to be members of a street gang? Are they meant to be members of a gay street gang?



Ah...see, they are meant to be gay. With all of the subtle writing we've learned to expect from Jim Shooter, not only do they have vaguely fruity names like "Dewey" and "Luellen," but they're clearly interested in Bruce for his body. I'm going to give Shooter the benefit of the doubt here and presume he didn't intend to imply any racial subtext by having the African-American gentlemen make the comments about "pearly white" skin...



Apparently this pair makes a habit out of this, hence the "cutie from Akron" line. Wow, so they're not just rapists, they're promiscuous rapists...as all gay men are, don't you know. And with Bruce on his knees and Dewey reaching for his pants, it seems pretty clear that Bruce is about to face a fate worse than death...



Funny, then, that he never changes into the Hulk. According to the text, Bruce doesn't change because apparently he's "more afraid" of turning into the Hulk than of doing something that will disqualify him from Military service. I, unsurprisingly, prefer the deconstructive reading. That is, the text is saying something the author didn't necessarily consciously intend. Which is, of course, that part of Bruce actually wants this to happen to him. I also prefer this reading because, let's face it, how naive are you to have been living in New York in the late 70s/early 80s and not realize that the YMCA is one of those places where men go to have sex with other men. There's even a song about it, for pity's sake.

Luckily for the teenage boys and arrested adolescents who make up the Hulk's readership, Bruce doesn't have to make with the oral pleasuring, as he convinces Dewey that he's actually...the Hulk, and that he'll change into the Hulk and kill him if he tries to do anything to him. And he then runs away...naked. And, just in case we still weren't clear, Shooter has Dewey lisp...as all gay men do, don't you know.



Finally, we get something that only adds to the deconstructive reading. Bruce finally does change, but only because of the "horror" and "revulsion" he feels. At himself, perhaps? Anger at his possible secret desire triggering the change to the Hulk? As if to drive the point home, the sequence seems to draw tremendous attention to the Hulk's ass.



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Friday, September 10, 2004

Friday miscellany 

--Yesterday was apparently "Japanese gay romance comics day" as three titles of that genre shipped. Golden Cain, Only the Ring Finger Knows and Kizuna. Kizuna is the only one I've ever heard anything about, so it's the only one I've picked up. And at $16, rather than the increasingly usual $8-$12 for manga titles, I'm reluctant to pick up any of the other titles unless I know more about them. I usually try to make a point of getting as many gay-themed comics as I can, but I'd like to know a little bit more about these shrink-wrapped titles I've never heard of than the vague descriptions on the back. Especially since a lot of the yaoi stuff I've seen kind of creeps me out a little. When they describe it as "boy-boy love", there's a strong emphasis on the boy part.

--I was asked by one of my co-workers if we should increase the orders on Astonishing X-Men, as #4 sold in far greater numbers than #3. I had to admit that what we saw with #4 was probably a one-time spike in sales due to the return of a much-beloved (apparently) character. Which, of course, Marvel didn't really give retailers too much advance notice on. Had we known, say, three months before the issue was due out, rather than three weeks before, that Marvel was planning on hyping that issue and putting out a variant cover and bringing that particular character back, we probably would have ordered more initially. Or, in other words, I didn't see a lot of people who hadn't been reading Astonishing rush to pick it up, and I didn't note any increased demand for back-issues of the first three issues, but I did note lots and lots of people buying multiple copies of issue #4.

--We're open later on Thursdays than we are the rest of the week, for a list of reasons that are very long and frankly sort of dull. So when new comics day is moved to Thursday, that means that now not only do I need to be at work about two hours earlier than I usually am, I have to stay an hour later as well, making it about a 10 hour day. Ten hours of looking at comic books is enough to test the sanity of any man, hence the rather dull post today. I was going to talk about comic book movie adaptations today, but I didn't have time to scan in any of the images I wanted to use to illustrate my points. And the one image I did find time to scan, because I was already scanning a bunch of copies of Electric Soup (those Frank Quitely film parodies really weren't very good), Viz (I looked and looked and nothing even closely resembled humor, except maybe "Sherlock Homo") and Toxic (I think I want an "Accident Man" collection), I forgot to send to myself so that I could upload it to the web. So, yeah, I've kind of forgotten the point of this entry...what was I talking about again?

--Oh, that In the Shadows of No Towers book...yeah, it looks pretty, but my brief examination of it leads me to believe that the mixed-to-negative reviews are probably the most accurate assessments of it's quality. And frankly, I'm getting a little bit tired of the art-comix crowd thinking that the way to convey to the masses that their books are "important" is to print them in ludicrously over-sized formats, ala Quimby the Mouse and Jimbo in Purgatory and this latest Speigelman work. Just because a book is large enough to be used as a surfboard, that doesn't make it good.

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Thursday, September 09, 2004

Things That Make You Go "Huh?" 



So...Uatu's a religous man then?

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Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Atomeka 

So, three new releases from Atomeka made their way to me, and since they were all really quite good, I thought I'd do the decent thing and plug them here.

A1: Big Issue 0: With five short stories from some of the best creators out there, it's hard to go wrong, and this book didn't disappoint me. It opens with Alan Moore's and Steve Parkhouse's Bojeffries Saga. It's like the love-child of H.P. Lovecraft and Charles Addams. Like all the rest of the material in this book, I'd not read any Bojeffries before, so while I'd heard that it was funny, I wasn't quite prepared for how funny it was. It's strange and grotesque and I need to see more of it dammit! Next we had a nicely sentimental piece by Steve Dillon called Kathleen's House. Dillon's art is always a treat and the story was quite romantic and sweet. Following on from that was Ronald Shussett and Steve Pugh on Shark-Man. The penciled artwork from Pugh was gorgeous, and it's been far too long since I saw his art on something, but this was probably the weakest story in the book. It was pretty, but the story felt scatter-shot, and at the end of the day it seemed like just another super-hero story. The Flaming Carrot story was also wonderfully strange. The crisply detailed artwork made a nice counter-point to the absurdity of the narrative. And rounding out the book is Survivor by Dave Gibbons and Ted McKeever. It's a first-person perspective story about the last son of an alien world, trapped on Earth, fighting crime, unable to feel anything and always terribly alone. It's a bleaker take on the concept than we often see, but far more heartfelt and rewarding than any of the other revisionist takes on it, especially the ones from the character in questions actual publisher.

Totally Bricktop: I had absolutely no idea what to expect when I picked this book up. I love Fabry's art. It's reminisicent of Brian Bolland's in many ways, but while Bolland draws these nicely elegant figures, Fabry's are scroungy and dirty-looking and lumpy. As for the story...well, I'm not quite sure what to say about it. It's absolutely hilarious, quite probably one of the funniest comics I've ever read. It has a surreal, manic glee, with the characters bouncing from one absurd situation to the next. It becomes quite difficult to tell what is literally meant to be happening from the site gags, and in the end you mostly have to abandon the proposistion and just go with the assumption that, yes, everything on the page is literally meant to be happening, otherwise the "logic" of the story is completely lost. It's a shame this is the "complete" adventures of Lucy Wales and her friends, because there are questions I still have that I demand answers to, mostly involving whether the evil naked alien will ever find an assistant more competent than an alcoholic homeless man, but primarily because these characters are so appealing I want to see more of them.

Dave Johnson Sketchbook: Sketchbooks are just about review-proof, I find. Either you're a fan of the artist in question, or you're not, and that seems to be the sole factor people use to decide if they should buy something like this or not. Luckily, I've always enjoyed Johnson's cover work and his illustration work when it's popped up here and there. This book has great rough-drafts of illo pieces, doodles, and character designs. If there's a flaw in this book, it's that there isn't any context given for any of the illustrations. I'd really like to know what some of these pieces were meant to be for. Also, there is sometimes too much of a good thing. I'm thinking mostly of the twelve pages of space-ship designs that appear here. And while they are all very neat looking space-ships, twelve pages of them feels like a bit too much. Apart from that I was really quite fond of the collection overall. There's a lot of nice looking work here, and I really must go find some more of Johnson's work now.

So, this is a very impressive initial offering of books from the good folks at Atomeka. All three of these books should be available at your local comic book store, so go out and get them! As for me, I'll be looking forward to the forthcoming releases.

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Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Last Weeks Comics...Reviewed Today! 

Hard Time #8: Now that the obligatory six-part "trade-friendly" introduction is over, the story starts to move along at a brisk pace, even moreso than before. Revelations, deaths, significant changes to the status quo of several characters, and it looks as if the title is moving away from the limited color palette of the previous issues. It's subtle, but there are some changes made to the coloring. I don't know if that's a deliberate creative decision, signaling Ethans acceptance of his new home, or simply an attempt to make the book more commercial by making it look more like your standard color comic. This title is the gem of DC's Focus line, and with a trade coming out soon, this is a good time to check it out.

Ultimate Spider-Man #65: I will defer to Peter's judgment on this one. I thought it read too much like "The Breakfast Club" and was Bendis wearing his pop-culture heart on his sleeve rather than attempting to tell a story. I don't think the kids sounded the way real kids sound, and I don't think Peter is bright enough or mature enough to make an assessment of Flash's personality and motives the way he does here. But Pete thinks Peter is capable of that kind of insight, and he thinks I'm being over-critical, so I'll let it slide.

Monolith #8: In this day and age, is it still necessary to play coy with the word "AIDS?" I mean, come on, say it with me..."AIDS." There, no big deal right? And since this isn't a "code approved" book, there's no possible reason I can see as to why they can't say the word "AIDS" in this issue. Unless, of course, there's some editorial unease about the word "AIDS" appearing in a DC comic. Unless someone in DC's editorial echelon feels it is somehow inappropriate for the word "AIDS" to appear in a comic that kids will read (though given this is Monolith we're talking about the odds of that seem low), or is afraid that if the word "AIDS" appears than people will somehow associate "AIDS" with DC.
Apart from that, I rather liked the Palmiotti/Gray take on the Bat characters.

Scratch #4: It's pretty review-proof at this point, isn't it? I still liked it. It's a werewolf comic, I'm inclined to enjoy it.

Milkman Murders #3: Zombie comics and movies bore me. They aren't scary, ever. Now this comic, this is a good horror comic. And it doesn't rely on the fantastic to make it scary. It all arises out of recognizable human behaviors, and that makes it scarier than any made-up zombie, vampire, or weird Cthuloid menace could ever be.

Gambit #1: I don't like Gambit, and this gave me no reason to care or be interested. The art is merely adequate and the story is looking to be dull.

Jubilee #1: There's probably a market for this book, but much like Mary Jane, selling this in comic-format in comic-book stores isn't going to reach that market.

Majestic #2: The Khera/Deamonite stuff bores the pants off of me, but I rather like the idea of having a Superman-esque character wandering around the DCU taking a slightly more proactive stance on things than Supes usually does. And the kid who's bound and determined to prove that their new lodger is really Superman was a nice touch.

Firestorm #5: I was never a Firestorm fan, in any of his various guises, but I'm warming to this new version. It helps that Jason isn't necessarily the right person for the job. He doesn't know what he's doing and he has more attitude than is probably healthy. And not even a not-so-subtle threat from Superman seems to be able to steer him away from what he's doing.

Detective #798: I won't spoil the surprise ending other than to say, really, everyone should have seen this coming.

Y: The Last Man #26: Wow...Hero was always sort of messed up, wasn't she? And it doesn't look like she's getting better. I wonder if the root of all this is going to be explored. That comment she makes at the beginning about not liking her grandfather seems very telling.

Swamp Thing #7: Well, I think I'm just about done with this series. I'm vaguely interested in the character, though I'm certainly not obsessed like some people. I just don't think I'm interested in reading about the pre-Alan Moore version, and it's looking like that's what this series is shaping up to be.

Bonus Plug: Newsarama has an interview up with the fine folks who create the Dorothy comic. Issue 1 should still be available, and issue 2 should be out soon.

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Monday, September 06, 2004

Labor Day 

What I want to be doing...



Instead, I'll be working...

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Saturday, September 04, 2004

Dear Marvel, 

Lately, despite our many attempts to clearly label which books came out "this week" and "last week," several of our customers have expressed difficulty in telling apart the Marvel Comics they've already purchased from the one's they haven't purchased yet.

I have absolutely no idea why this might be...


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Friday, September 03, 2004

Brave and the Bold 118 

So, in the farewell post at Grotesque Anatomy, John Jakala signled out this comic as one of his favorite comics as a kid:


And it's easy to see why. Despite the overwhelming adequateness of most of Bob Haney's stories, this one just goes that little bit extra bit over the top to turn it into a thing of beauty.

First of all, we open with Batman and Commisoner Gordon debating what to do about an imprisioned henchman of the Joker's, Mike Dubcek, who refuses to talk:


Next, we move onto Wildcat, who is preparing to participate in an exhibition boxing match at the very prison, hires a washed-up ex-boxer to be his bucketman. In fact, Dubcek is the prisoner the warden has selected to fight Ted Grant, on the basis that Dubcek once almost beat him in a title bout and "we might have a riot on our hands" if they don't let him out. The fight goes as you'd expect:


But what of this curious incident just before the fight?


Shortly afterwards (we know it's "shortly" because we're conveniently told that by the text) every inmate comes down with a "rare tropical fever"...medical authorities are baffled until:


Yes, that washed up boxer Ted Grant hired was actually a stooge for the Joker! And that water-bucket? Infected with a "rare tropical fever." And all of this would have been avoided if the Warden had just, oh, I don't know, actually kept the guy he was supposed to keep in solitary in solitary...Luckily, there's a scientist investigating the disease who has a dog "whose blood's crammed with enough antibodies to inject all the prisoners":


I'll leave the feasability of the medical aspects of this over to Scott at Polite Dissent...what can't be disputed is this: Isn't it cool to see Batman saying something as completely out of character as "we dig?"

Somehow, of course, the Joker has found out all about this little dog with the cure for the "rare tropical fever" in his blood, and sets out to kidnap the dog so that Dubcek won't be able to inform on him...killing everyone in a prison seems to be a pretty far length to go to off one guy, but this is the Joker we're talking about here.


Of course, we wouldn't have a story if the Joker's plan worked, and so:


What ensues is a wild chase through the city, with Batman, Wildcat on his Cat-O-Cycle (I'm not making that up, that's what it's actually called) and the Joker looking desperately for Spot. And doing a real good job of it too:


Spot, meanwhile, makes friends with a garbage scow dog, a little boy and a homeless man before succumbing to the inevitable...leaping into the dog catcher's van...


Luckily, Batman thought to check the pound, only to discover that the dog's owner came to claim him already. A "weird lookin' bozo...had green hair"...which means that there's someone out there in the DC Universe who's been living under a rock for twenty years and has never heard of the Joker...who then, coincidentally, calls Batman on his "secret police frequency" (and how secret is it if your archnemesis knows it?) and tells him of a way he can get the dog back:


The Joker knows Wildcat's secret identity? Anyway, knowing that if they don't fight for real, the Joker will kill the dog and doom all those rapists, murderers and thieves to a death by "rare tropical fever", Batman and Wildcat give it their all. Of course, since we can't definitvely establish whether Bruce or Ted is the better fighter, this is the result we get:


A double kayo! Joker takes the opportunity to tell Bats and Cats that they heavy metal gloves they were wearing were also both infected with the "rare tropical fever" and so now they're doomed as well...only:


Joker rushes to stop one of hench-man from drowning Spot, only to remember that he can't swim. Luckily for everyone, even a dog can escape from one of the Joker's death-traps and so:


And everything works out in the end:


(Except for Spot, who will probably be dissected...)


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Thursday, September 02, 2004

"Mainstream" Comics Reviewed 

Pink Sketchbook Vol. 1: Grrr! by Scott Morse: This is a nice little sketchbook if you're a Morse fan, or like me have this weird compulsion to buy every new book with his name on it. The theme is "monsters" and it's packed with lots of cute/weird beasts drawn, many in color, in Morse's retro-weird style. And it comes with a little pink sticker of a well-dressed werewolf as a bonus. I'm not sure what Adhouse has planned for future volumes in their Pink Sketchbook series, butthis is a great way to kick off the line. My one complaint: the little zip-lock bag the book comes packaged in is just about the same width as the book, which means I have to roll the book a little to get it in and out of the bag. A minor nuisance to be sure, but a nuisance none the less.

Girl Genius #12: If this were a Buck Godot book the series would be over by now. I love Foglio's art and humor, and I seem to be one of the few who wasn't annoyed by first the change to color and now the change in format the book has undergone (believe me, I heard many, many complaints in the store from customers unhappy with those changes), but it's so slow...It seems to take forever for anything to happen. But it's all made up for by the antics of the madpeople in the comic, particularly Krosp, the Emporer of Cats.

Caper #11: This arc is turning out to be very disappointing in comparison to the previous two. It seems like Winick had some crassness/nonsense to get out of his system. If so, I'd really rather have read a new Barry Ween book.

Ojo #1: Ah, another book I can show Sam Kieth fans only to hear them say "But Wolverine's not in it!" It's nice to see Kieth's work in black and white. It's suited to his scratchy art style and the mood he's been dealing with in his work recently. And this is a very "Kiethian" work. A disturbed child makes friends with some sort of creature that lives in the garbage, only to discover that the creature's parent doesn't seem happy about the arrangement. It's twisted and funny in a very bleak way.

Witching #3: I'm still fairly intrigued by this series. I'm not sure if there's going to be enough story to keep the title going after the initial arc, but Vankin's writing amuses me and Gallagher's art has a semi-cartoony appeal.

Conan #7: A thorough resolution to the previous storyline, and a broad hint at the events of the next storyline. Overall, this has turned out to be a fun series. It's true to the spirit of Howard's work, is more faithful than the prior comics, film, television and animated versions, but doesn't feel like it's too slavishly devoted to the source material. It gives me hope that we'll see a faithful version of Red Sonja someday...you know, the 16th century Russian warrior fighting the Turks that Howard wrote about.

Books of Magick: Life During Wartime #2: I never really had any problem with the two previous series about Tim Hunter. And I usually like Ormston's art. But I have no clue what's going on in this book, or why. I think this is going to become another thing that I just end up getting for Peter.

Ex Machina #3: I really like this series so far, and I'm glad it's doing well, not just in the store I work at but apparently all over. I think some of the complaints that people have made about how the book would have been improved by the removal of the super-heroic elements have been anticipated by Vaughn. The string of snow-plow driver murders and Kremlin's pleas both seem contrived to force the mayor to bring The Great Machine back. I can see Vaughan using that desire to have a super-hero solve everyone's problems instead of a man representing the will of the people as an Imporatant Point in a future issue.

Losers #15: Wow...Aisha is a cold-blooded witch, isn't she? The political allegory is even more heavy-handed than usual. And Garza's art has never been a favorite of mine (when is Jock coming back, anyway?), yet as fill-in issues go, this was pretty good. It was nice to see some back-ground given to the most enigmatic member of the squad, and I half-hope Diggle has similair one-off stories in mind for the rest of the Losers.

Blue Monday: Painted Moon #2: I'm meant to believe a 15 year old boy has never once masturbated? Please...Other than that one minor quibble, this was another good issue of this series. Clugston-Major's art is cutesy-fun, and I love her manga-influenced character design. Unlike most of the other "mangaesque" artists out there, her work never seems to be a pale attempt to appeal to manga fans by looking superficially like the real thing.

Demo #9: Well, Cloonan's art is as nice as ever, but the story in this issue was the first that really didn't do much for me. It's hard to feel any sympathy, or even any empathy, for either character.

We3: It's brilliant.

I am Legion: The Dancing Faun: It's a very impressive looking book, and the story is certainly ambitious, but for a work that is all prologue to the subsequent chapters, many of the characters are still only vaguely defined and I'm not quite sure who is supposed to be on which side and why. It will probably read quite smoothly once it's all together, but since we're looking at a wait of, what? An year or more between issues? I'd rather just read it in installments and hope I can remember enough details between chapters to understand it.

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Ape on Trial! 



The cover is totally misleading, by the way...the jury finds him innocent of stealing the components neccessary to build a nuclear missile by reason of trying to save the Earth from evil talking space gorillas.

(Why yes, I did find that I didn't have enough time to finish writing my latest batch of reviews and so decided to just post a cover instead...)

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Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Escalating Levels of Annoyance 

There is a flip-side to the parents I talked about here, and those are the parents who read comics themselves, but whose kids don't. So we usually end up with a kid running rampant throughout the store because the parent is too busy going through the Fantastic Four back-issues to actually exercise some control and discipline over their off-spring. What's really curious is when the kids are well-behaved, show interest in the comics, and ask their parents if they can have comics, only to have the parents refuse to buy them any. Apparently comic books are only something for mommy or daddy.

There's another group of parents whose behavior I don't get. They come into the store, bring their kids along, tell the kid repeatedly that they are not to touch anything, tell the kid that they're not going to buy anything, and wander around the store for a good half-an-hour or so complaining loudly about everything in the store and making rude comments about the merchandise and in some cases the paying customers. It's like some bizarre form of child torture...bring the kid in, tease him or her with things you're not going to buy, and make the kid think that there's something wrong with them for even wanting any comics in the first place.

And I should probably reiterate (mostly because Mike said he would if I didn't) that, in relation to the comics and parents thing, there are plenty of comics for kids, and plenty of kids who read comics. We've got a big section in the store of kid-appropriate comics and it does brisk business. And that's not even mentioning the manga. So, again, when people say that "there are no comics for kids" or "kids don't read comics" what they really mean is: "kids today don't read the kinds of comics I read when I was their age." Which is really a rather self-centered and narcisstic view, I think. There's no logical reason in the world why kids today would want the same kinds of entertainment as kids ten, twenty, thiry, forty, etc. years ago would. In fact, I can just picture some parent, twenty years from now, berating their kid: "Why do you keep reading all those African comics? Can't you read some manga like I did when I was your age? Now those were good comics!"

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A Villain Jim Lee Left Out Of "Hush" 



Really, it would have made much more sense if the Eraser had been behind it all...a villain who goes and removes clues from other people's crime scenes, who's acting out of a desire to humiliate Bruce Wayne...he's the obvious solution really.
(Of course, just about any Bat-Villain would have made more sense as the culprit, and been more satisfying story-wise, than the guy with the big "I'm the bad guy" sign...)

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© 2007 Dorian Wright. Some images are © their respective copyright holders. They appear here for the purposes of review or satire only.