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Monday, January 31, 2005
Your Excessively Bitter And Cynical Observation Of The Day
So...this X-23 character that Marvel seems to think is the next big thing, despite the fact that nobody really seems to care...the character they keep shoving into books in the determination that the comics-buying public will like this character no matter what...it couldn't possibly be that the target audience for this sort of thing is people who want to masturbate to pictures of Wolverine but are stopped by their homosexual panic, could it?
(I'm sorry, I really have no idea where that came from...)
Happy Birthday to Fred Hembeck! A gentleman, a scholar, and an all-around swell guy. He draws fun cartoons too, and I really appreciate all the nice things he has said about this site.
Sparky at Trusy Sidekicks is worried that maybe those kids at the Xavier Institute are not getting the best possible education. And he's right. Certainly having the school destroyed by an arch-villain every semester is grounds for having your accreditation revoked.
(Yes, that was Dorian in post-English-degree snark mode...it doesn't happen very often, so treasure it when it does...)
On Law and Order: Criminal Intent last night there was a character named Dorian who was a little too into vampires. Yes, I was thrilled about it. Because when you have a name that isn't very common, everybody feels the need to point it out to you when a fictional character has the same name. And then come the "jokes" about alleged similarities between you and the character...
My Week-End At Work
The highlight was probably when Mike made a little kid cry. I can vouch to the fact that Mike was very polite and nice to the kid, and frankly nicer to the parents than they probably deserved. We do go out of our way to make the store kid-friendly and accessible, and in fact we did have a lot of kids in the store this weekend, actually spending money either on their own or with their parents. And we are fairly tolerant of people "browsing" the books, under the theory that someone who knows for certain that they're going to like what they're buying is more likely to come back and buy more. But when you're sprawled out on the floor, clearly reading through the book we have to put our foot down.
I decided to let Mike handle the situation with the parents because, frankly, they were both wearing really ridiculous hats, the kind that scream out "I'm a boring person so I have to wear a silly hat so that people will think I'm interesting," and I just knew I wouldn't be able to keep the sarcasm to a minimum.
And then the people on speed came in to try and sell me comics. And wouldn't believe me when I told them that they're early 90s Image books aren't worth much above cover price, and no, having "a full set" doesn't make them more valuable. "But it does for sports cards" he said. Yes, I replied, it does for sports cards. Comic books aren't sports cards.
I also have another illustration of how little the general public knows or cares about super-hero comics and characters. While helping a customer with the poster displays I over-hear her say "Oh it's the Super Friends" while looking at a Fantastic Four poster. Which is probably not a good sign for the forth-coming movie.
And I also had another experience with my biggest pet peeve with working retail:
"What kind of science-fiction comics do you have?"
Lots of them. Was there something specific you were looking for?
"It's for a twelve year old boy who is very intelligent and sophisticated, but it can't have any sex or nudity in it."
Okay, well, you might try Switchblade Honey or Skizz or some of the other books we have here in our science-fiction sec-"
Oh, you have Matrix toys! Never mind, I'll get one of these instead.
Sometimes, You Just Have To Post Stuff Because It Amuses You
Your Gratuitous City Of Heroes Image Of The Day:
Rum Red and his Holy Shotgun. No, I'm not making that up. As part of a mission Rum was given by a creepy guy who hangs out in a cemetery, Rum and his team had to go into a mausoleum crawling with zombies and evil tikis and flush them out. Using a holy shotgun. After that we had to rescue some scientists from evil Nazi vampires and were-wolves. Well, they're not Nazis anymore so much as they're evilalien Nazis, but still.
Part of the game's appeal for me are these types of scenarios, where you just get to go and do fun, sort of silly, super-heroic adventures. Yeah, the task-forces have their appeal in their high-stakes, we must actually save the world even though failure has no real in-game consequences other than debt, way. But I get more out of the loosely-connected storyline type missions from contacts.
Speaking of debt, I strongly suspect that I'll have paid off my student loans before I get Rum out of debt. Everytime I finally drag myself out of the debt hole, I'll turn the corner and smack head-first into a purple Ancestor Spirit or Lesser Devoured, and it'll be right back to the nearest hospital and a new round of debt to clear up.
So next time you're on Victory, send me a "Hi" tell.
Dorian's Top Five Manga
Everyone else is doing it, so in no particular order:
1) Tuxedo Gin: The art is very cute and the story is both funny and touching.
2) Fruits Basket: I'm a sucker for the transforming animals and watching Tohru's emotional growth gets to me.
3) Imadoki: A down-to-earth and affecting romance.
4) xxxHolic: Clamp's answer to the EC/Creepy horror tradition. Stylish and spooky little morality plays.
5) Ranma 1/2: Still funny after all these years.
Honorable mentions go to Kindaichi Case Files, Angel Sanctuary, Tsubasa, the recently concluded Alice 19th and Inu-Yasha--though frankly I'd just as soon they find that damn jewel already!
Peach Fuzz Vol. 1 by Lindsay Cibos and Jared Hodges: This original series from Tokyopop focuses on the efforts of Amanda to bond with her new pet ferret Peach. Unfortunately, Peach has a bit of a princess complex and perceives Amanda as a ravening monster wishing only to torture her. And so she bites...and if Amanda's mother finds out about that Peach is going to be taken back to the pet store. Amanda must teach Peach not to bite, and Peach must learn to get along with Amanda.
The art on this series is very nice. It's detailed while retaining an appealing cartoon style. The story is very slow-paced, however, and it tends to drag on a bit in spots. But it's a very cute story with charming art-work and it should have a strong appeal for younger readers, especially children fond of animals.
The Wallflower Vol. 1 by Tomoko Hayakawa: I was somewhat reluctant to give this series a chance, as the premise, four good-looking popular boys try to transform a shy goth girl into a proper young lady, suggested to me that the story would veer into shallow and superficial territory. A story in which girls are encouraged to try to be pretty and meet social expectations is one that I had no interest in reading. I needn't have worried. Sunako, the "wallflower" has such glee in being a fashion-disaster and horror movie buff it actually becomes fun to root for her in her efforts to resist the ministrations of the four boys (who are drawn so similarly and have such thin personalities the only way to tell them apart is by their hair-styles). Hayakawa frequently draws Sunako in a cute, super-deformed style, further contrasting her with the sea of nearly identical pretty people around her. Even when she is forced by circumstance to adopt the guise of a pretty person, she retains a darkly gothic charm.
Tuxedo Gin Vol. 9 by Tokihiko Matsuura: Further complications abound in this most recent volume. Gin must not only help another reincarnated spirit, but he must persuade his last opponent to give up boxing and insure that Minako doesn't give up waiting for him to return. The overall story continues to focus on Ginji learning the lessons as a penguin that he should have learned as a man. As a penguin he's more noble, caring and attentive to the needs of others than he ever was as a human. And Matsuura's art is very cute and fun.
Fruits Basket Vol. 6 by Natsuki Takaya: No new members of the zodiac are introduced in this volume, but the relationships between the characters are explored in more depth, and a terrible secret about Kyo-Kun, the Sohma family member cursed by the cat spirit is revealed. The thing I like most about this series, in addition to the very pretty and expressive art-work, is the gentle humor and emphasis on the emotional growth and depth of the characters, particularly in the maturing of Tohru as she continues to open herself up to the Sohma's and think of them as her family.
File under "Knowing Your Audience": Every issue of Wizard this month came bagged with a pamphlet advertising the benefits of "ProActiv" acne medication...Someone in Wizard's ad sales department is developing a cruel sense of humor.
Each new issue of Previews is a cruel reminder of the dangers of unchecked capitalism and the dictum "a fool and his money are soon parted."
Speaking of which, about thirty pages were missing from my copy, consisting of the "B" through "D" listings under "Comics," but I'm sure there couldn't possibly have been anything in that section I might have wanted to know about.
Diamond sent us a box containing nothing but our invoice.
I'm so glad we're close enough to a distribution center we can pick up our shipments for ourselves, rather than having them shipped. Because that sort of thing would have made us really mad if we'd have to pay for shipping on it.
I had a customer complain about a kid in the store yesterday. Not that the kid was being loud and obnoxious (he was), not that the parent was paying no attention to the kid (she wasn't), no, his objection was to the very idea of a child in a comic book store. Because "kids shouldn't be in comic book stores."
I...just had no way of reacting to that. It caused an almost complete mental shut-down for a minute or two there while I tried to process that information.
The newest issue of Back Issue is their black super-heroes issue, and it features a joint interview with Denny O'Neill and Phil Lamarr about John Stewart. I can see wanting to do an interview with the character's creator...but the guy who does the voice on a cartoon? That sounds like reaching for content to me.
Is it wrong that I crack up every time I see this cover? I mean, partly it's the disconnect between the seriousness of the subject matter and the fact that it's Green-Frickin'-Arrow, but also the looks on everyone's faces are just so over-the-top it makes me laugh.
I know the creators had their hearts in the right place, but come on, that's one funny cover.
They also think blogs spend too much time talking about other blogs. They almost have a point there, but the condescending way they make it is almost certain to guarantee even more of the cross-blog type conversations they abhor.
Oddly, they also are discouraged by the big pushes blogs make for titles that the bloggers enjoy greatly. Well, since the last thing I would want to do is try to increase the awareness of a book I happen to enjoy but don't think is getting enough attention, I'm going to go ahead and cancel my plans for those Last of the Independents and The Intimates contests. After all, I'd hate to think that "real" comics commentators are bothered by that sort of thing.
A customer recently bought an Invisibles trade by accident. I'm not quite sure how, as he is generally pretty staunchly a Marvel customer, but he did.
He came back for more. I rather like that.
As Mike and I have mentioned before, we've been going through a rather large collection that the store recently purchased. (I couldn't afford the Wildcat appearance in Spectre, but the 100 page House of Mystery is mine. I also had my eye on some 100 page issues of Detective because of the reprints of Quality and Fawcett stories in them, but the presence of the Goodwin/Simonson Manhunter series drove them out of my price range as well.) Anyway, usually when we see a large collection like this, the Bat-family titles are affordable, as they tend to be beat-to-hell, read to death and very obviously loved much by the prior owner, and the Superman titles tend to be in much better condition. The reverse is true in the case of this collection. The Batman books are all in fantastic condition, and the Superman titles are so badly beat up they barely qualify as comics anymore.
Well, I find it interesting...
How do I know that manga is starting to penetrate the consciousness of the average comics reader? I'm increasingly being asked for bags, boards and mylars that will accommodate the standard manga size book. That's not the sort of thing a person who reads a lot of manga is worried about; they just want to read their books and to hell with their condition. That's the sort of thing that someone who is used to being careful with their comics because they're going to be worth something someday worries about.
Not only are we being over-shipped enough copies of Arana: Heart of the Spider to effectively double our order (why? The first series with this character barely sold), but we're also getting in a variant cover edition which I had somehow managed to remain blissfully unaware of. This puts all those people asking about it last week into context for me. They, and I'm going out on limb here based on past experience, probably just want the variant cover because it's "hot."
Inventory Control Observation: The non-G.I. Joe titles from Devil's Due are just not moving for us. Even the one written by Chuck Dixon isn't selling more than one or two copies, and he is a writer who tends to have very, uhm, dedicated fans. Not that the G.I. Joe titles themselves are very strong sellers anymore, either. The comics buying public at large seems to be tiring of these comics based on twenty year old cartoon and toy properties. In fact, much to my surprise, the only title that is selling briskly is the Army of Darkness one. So, if this rumor going around that Devil's Due picked up the Transformers license is true, well...I think I've used the phrase "throwing good money after bad" before, right?
Spotted at The Comics Reporter, this letter to ICv2 from a retailer unhappy with the spotty availability of Marvel trade paper-backs. It's something that's been a nuisance to us as well. However, I wouldn't go so far as to say that it is "irresponsible" on Marvel's part to not keep 100% of their trade paperback line in print at all times. In fact, I'd say that doing so would be a huge drain on Marvel's finances, and something that their stock-holders would see as irresponsible (imagine that, me defending Marvel...better take a screen-capture of this page for posterity, because it don't happen too often). And while it would be nice to be able to always have, say, all the Ultimate titles and proven sellers like Grant Morrison's run on New X-Men available for reorders, I think the larger problem is that Marvel puts out too many damn trade paperbacks in the first place. I know the point behind their "everything we've ever published gets put into a trade, regardless of merit or demand" policy is to take up as much space on book-store shelves as possible and squeeze out competition there. I don't think that's a tactic that will work in comics stores, however.
The approach we've taken to this has been working well for us. First, we drastically cut back on our initial orders for Marvel trades. Second, we only make the effort to keep the top sellers and the works of merit in stock. Third, we don't re-order any other titles unless someone specifically asks us for a copy. This means that if we do manage to sell the one copy we initially ordered of Powerless or Identity Disc, we won't get it back in stock unless a customer special orders it, in which case we'll get one for the customer and probably one for the shelf. The only books that get checked for availability each week are the Ultimate books. We use the same approach with the manga re-orders. Inu-Yasha, Battle Royale and Fruits Basket get re-ordered just about every week. I'm not going to worry about getting that volume of Steam Detectives or Bow Wow Wata we're missing unless I get a request for it.
What's far more annoying to me is when we can't get books in stock because the publisher is repackaging them to appeal to film-goers. Right now the only Sin City trade available is the hard-cover edition of "The Big Fat Kill." I have this horrible fear that the new editions of the books won't be available to comics shops until after the movie comes out and interest in the source material goes away. You know, like what happened with the Hellboy trades that we couldn't get in stock before the movie opened and then just sat there for weeks once they did finally come back in stock. Or what happened with the Ghost World trade, which was not available to comics shops for an entire year, thus guaranteeing that we didn't have any copies to sell while the film was playing. What really annoyed me about that one was some Fantagraphics flack later said in an interview that comics shops didn't support the Ghost World film, as evidenced by the fact that direct market sales for the trade were non-existent. Well, maybe if you'd made the damn book available to direct market stores they would have ordered it you colossal tool!
I'm getting really sick of being asked for "dark" comics. The conversation usually goes:
"Do you have any 'dark' comics?"
What do you mean by "dark"? Do you mean cynical and depressing or morbid? Or is it a quality of the art?
"Just, you know, 'dark'."
Well, name me a movie that's like what you're thinking of.
"You know, like, 'dark' movies."
Darkman? Dark City? Give me the information I need to help you! "So, you don't have any 'dark' comics then?"
Bonus New Content: (because it doesn't warrant a post of its own, really)Why Movies Based on Super-Hero Comics Generally Suck
(My kid brother Andy found out that it's possible to read the solicitations for upcoming comics on-line, rather than by buying Previews, and he insists I let him share his thoughts on upcoming comics with the world. He assures me that he's learned how HTML tags work and that he won't change my site layout again, so the unpleasntness of last time shouldn't be repeated.)
Joel cameron is my favorite direcor afer Geog Lucas and Qunin Taranntinno and i think its cool he in this "sea of red" book. plus it has like vapmire or zombis in and thats hot!!!! thats why I like "Walking Dead so" much cause zombis and vampires and stuf are SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Kewl!!!!!!
Spawn is the greatest comic ver and all but i think 'Sam and twitch In't vry good because it like toesn't tak itself serious enough
invincible so roks hard! its like this totaly fresh and exicitng take on supehreroes thats never been done before The world realy needs more books about teenage supereheroes so that kids will read more comics because Dori keeps saying how the publshers are only seling to teh same people for like ever and they need new people to read them and i thnk that teen supehreros would get people to read comics
i buy two copies ofa all of Gregg Horns comics so i knga hope that Dori buys that art lf Greg Horn book for me for mu birthday
The GIFT has totaly cool art I think its alrmost as good as liek the old image artistss
and thennt here this "lions tigers and bars oh my book that there doing and thats stupid kids stuf so i dont know why they think anyone shold read it
I donr realyu like DC cause their books are lamre I tried to read this Sandman book once cause this girl i wanted to ask out was realy into it. She workd at the Hot Topic at the mall. its next to the food court an I always drive acosst he street to themall to eat luch cause the Miecky Ds is the best in the city there and anyway i sometimes talk to her when i go into the stoe I'm not into all that fagy goth crap (sorry dor!( but they do hav e Kewl! Transformers and GIJOE shirts an stuf like theat anyway i talk to her and we taked about comics one day and she said that Sandyman was like the best comic ever and her favorite well i never heard of it so i asked Dori about it and he leant me a bunch of this books that he said was Sandman and and that he was glad iwas broagening my reading a little and it was realy weird and i dint like it was all people talking abuot there dreams and stupid stuf like that so i decided that i don't want to go out eith her if shes into stuf like that
oh, but World's Finest has Superman dna Batman fighting the Avengers and thats totaly cool I love it when comic companes reward the true fans with ;ittle jokes ;ole tjat
SpiderMan Rulez, alrigh! I cant wait to read all the avengrs tieins in the spiderman books. Toxin is like the best spidrem an charcter ever hes like vemon but good
the ultimate books are so hot. i guy two of each ot thse as well and i buy three for the first issue of eacy storyline and i send that extra one off to CGC to get it graded cause i knw that there going to be woth alot of money some day.
A couple of quick comments regarding this week's books:
Hanging Out With The Dream King, the new book of Neil Gaiman themed interviews, has black bordered pages. Y'know, there is such a thing as being "too goth."
Freedom Force a video-game tie-in from Image came out this week, and I never need to see another Kirby pastiche in a comic ever again. I'd much rather people learn to draw in their own style than continue to ape his after all this time.
We had lots of people looking for the first issue of Arana this week. And by "people" I mean "adult males over the age of 30." And yet, Marvel seems to think that this book is hot, hot, hot amongst the teenage girl set, especially the Hispanic teenage girl set, to judge by their hype for the book. But it's only selling to the usual suspects.
The final issue of Wanted finally shipped with four different covers. I don't remember it being solicited with variant covers, but in any case, our customers showed a decisive preference for the J.G. Jones cover. So, now I've got lots and lots of the other covers lying around. I'm sure they will sell eventually...but man, I've never seen such a marked preference for one particular cover before.
Your cynical observation of the day: Every once in awhile, somebody who, and I mean this generously, comes in to buy an indie comic or some art-comix, and from my conversation with them, or their previous buying habits, I become convinced that they have no intention of actually reading the comic. They only want it because it's the hot new accessory to impress all their friends with. In that sense, the self-consciously hip are not so different from the super-hero fanboy who buys a comic that he knows is utter garbage, but it will complete his "set."
On a related note, I can't be the only one who gets the Comics Journal messageboard and the Newsarama message board confused, can I? I mean, they're both nerds arguing about things that ultimately aren't important, so it's an easy mistake to make, right?
The phone rings and the nice lady on the other side asks me if we carry any life-size card-board cut-outs of John Travolta. To which I reply no. Well, she asks, do we carry any posters? We certainly do, I say. Do you have any of John Travolta, she queries. No, sorry, we don't I tell her. Well, what kind of posters do you have, she asks triumphantly. Comic book ones I tell her. Well, is John Travolta in any of them she asks. No, I tell her.
Apparently I missed the notice that all posters are now required to carry an image of John Travolta on them.
Another phone conversation:
"Do you carry back issues?"
Yes we do (as I look at the several hundred boxes of back-issues we have).
"Well, there's this company, they're kinda obscure, and I'm wondering if you have any of the comics they published."
What's the name of the company?
...Yeah, I'm pretty sure we might have one or two Marvel back-issues lying around.
The moment in which I almost became a caricature of a comics retailer:
"Dude, they got poker chips with, like, chicks on them."
Oh, that's our Bettie Page poker set. Pretty cool, huh?
(I swear, the phrase "leave this store" almost passed my lips...)
Note to people trying to sell me their really valuable, hot comics: If I've never heard of a comic called "Return of S***", and Mike has never heard of a comic called "Return of S***", and we get down the back-issues for the other "S***" comics and we go through it and can't find any copies of "Return of S***," and it's not listed in any of the four different price-guides we have in the store, it may just be possible that the book isn't actually called what you think it's called. I swear, Mike and I aren't trying to confuse you by pretending it doesn't exist.
So, I got linked by TotalFark and the Steve Niles Forum, but I can't actually access the pages that link to me. Anyone want to help me out and at least tell me what was said?
It's the little things that make life worth living: A big, huge collection was purchased recently, so Mike and I have been having all kinds of fun going through the comics, sorting them, seeing what we need and what we don't, finding cool stuff for our sites, finding cool stuff for our collections (Wildcat appearance in Spectre and House of Mystery 100-pagers are being eyed by yours truly). Mike picks up a comic, flips through it, and says "Hey, I bought this comic off the rack when it was new." I take a look at it, check the publication date...
(or, Dorian gets annoyed about something that doesn't matter to very many people...)
The 16th annual GLAAD Media Awards nominees are announced, and as usual, I'm not very impressed with their selections. I've got a bit of a philosophical problem with the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and their methodology. Primarily, they tend to award mediocrity. The projects they recognize as "outstanding" strike me as nothing so much as works whose goal is nothing other than making the disgusting, perverted faggots as palatable to the mainstream/straight public as possible. And when GLAAD does take "action" and organize write-in campaigns and boycotts against a media entity they feel have insulted the dignity of the queer community their targets are people who are so blasphemously insane that no reasonable person could ever have taken them seriously in the first place (like Michael Savage), or so obscure that no one outside of people on GLAAD's mailing list has heard of them anyway. And so, yeah, I'm not exactly impressed with what GLAAD have chosen to honor this year, and I'll tell you why.
Outstanding Film - Wide Release
Alexander (Warner Bros.)
A Home at the End of the World (Warner Independent Pictures)
Kinsey (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Monster (Newmarket Films)
Saved! (United Artists)
I haven't seen any of these films. Alexander I understand was either too gay or not gay enough, so it's probably out of the running. Kinsey is supposed to be very good, but the man is still considered controversial in some circles, so that's probably out as well. Saved! is probably the most likely winner, as the gay-themed sub-plot in that film centers on straight people learning to tolerate gay people despite the fact that they're sinners.
Outstanding Film - Limited Release
Bad Education (Sony Pictures Classics)
Bear Cub (TLA Releasing)
Blue Gate Crossing (Strand Releasing)
Brother to Brother (Wolfe Releasing)
The Mudge Boy (Strand Releasing/Showtime)
I also haven't seen any of these films yet. Brother to Brother apparently engendered some controversy, with many feeling it's depiction of the black community was racist. Bear Cub is supposed to be very good, but I suspect the film contains too many big hairy men having sex for GLAAD to want to promote it too much. So Bad Education is probably the best bet here, as Pedro Almodovar is a known quantity.
Outstanding Drama Series
Kevin Hill (UPN)
The L Word (Showtime)
Queer as Folk (Showtime)
Six Feet Under (HBO)
The Wire (HBO)
I gave up on Six Feet Under after the first season. It was much sound and fury, but nothing much ever seemed to happen. I only ever caught the premiere episode of The L Word and I thought it seemed more like an exercise in titillating the straight male audience than a serious look at the lives of lesbians.
Outstanding Comedy Series
Will & Grace
Well that's depressing. The gay version of Amos and Andy is the only nominee. Some day our culture is going to look back at Will and Grace and be vaguely embarrassed that it was ever on the air.
Outstanding Reality Program
American Candidate (Showtime)
Big Brother 5 (CBS)
Queer Eye for the Straight Guy (Bravo)
The Real World: Philadelphia (MTV)
Survivor: Vanuatu (CBS)
The very idea that there is a category for "reality" programs both depresses and angers me. Especially since the gay people on most such shows are very obviously tokens. "Let's see, we've got a black contestant, an Asian contestant, a couple of women and about a dozen white guys. Did we miss anything?" "The fags?" "Oh, that's right, better throw a fag on the show as well. We don't want to offend anyone by leaving one out."
Queer Eye for the Straight Guy is the only show that doesn't fit the same pattern as the rest, but I still tend to feel that the hosts on that show are more like jesters than positive role models. They're "safe" homos that won't threaten the public, and spend all their time trying to improve the lives of straight men.
Outstanding Advertising - Electronic
"Bouncer" United Church of Christ
"Penn Pals" Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation
"Watch and Learn: Gay Marriage" MTV
Outstanding Advertising - Print
"Are You Putting Us On?" Kenneth Cole
"Jill" Grand Marnier
"Menotte Bracelets" Cartier
"This is Love. It's Not Up for a Vote." Shreve, Crump & Low
Again, the inclusion of gay people in many of these ads is tokenism, the exploitation of gay rights issues to make a political point or to garner publicity, or included as part of a PSA about how you shouldn't hate gay people just because they're gay. So while the PSA-type ads have their hearts in the right place, it does feel a little condescending.
Outstanding Comic Book
Ex Machina (Wildstorm/DC Comics)
Hard Time (DC Comics)
Luba (Fantagraphics Books)
My Faith in Frankie (Vertigo/DC Comics)
Strangers in Paradise (Abstract Studio)
Remember what I said about how GLAAD tends to award mediocrity? The comic book awards always drives that point home, I think. The gay storyline in Ex Machina clearly garnered it a last-minute inclusion, despite the fact that the reading public doesn't yet know where the story is headed. Hard Time is an excellent series, but Gerber's portrayal of Cindy is not only unsympathetic, it often borders on caricature. Luba is fantastic and truly does deserve recognition, and is probably the only truly positive and uncomplicated portrayal of the lives of gay people on this list. My Faith in Frankie was a good mini, but the lesbian aspect sort of came out of left field at the very end (I suppose this means that Law and Order will be nominated next year, for its last minute revelation that a departing character was lesbian). I'm still continually confused by the claims that Strangers in Paradise contains positive gay images, as every time I look at it, it seems to me that the same-sex relationships are uniformly abusive and the characters only seem to find happiness when they're in opposite-sex relationships.
In any case, all the nominees are either from DC comics, or are "big-name" indie talents. In other words, there's a good chance that all the nominees are something that "normal" people could find in a book-store. The gay small press, where all the interesting gay comics that are actually, you know, about gay people and not about how straight people deal with gay people, have been completely ignored. Again. Heck, with all the press manga is getting, and with the number of gay characters in manga, you'd almost think a token nomination would have made it through, but I guess manga is still considered too weird for GLAAD's normalizing of homosexuality goal.
Outstanding Music Artist
Melissa Etheridge, Lucky
George Michael, Patience
Scissor Sisters, Scissor Sisters
Le Tigre, This Island
Rufus Wainwright, Want Two
Hardly anyone has heard of Le Tigre so they're out of the running. The Scissor Sisters are truly excellent, but they're far too weird to meet GLAAD's goals of presenting nice, respectable homos to the straight world. George Michael's new album is actually quite good, if a bit uneven, but people still think of public restrooms when they think of him, and we can't have a nominee who reminds people that gay people actually do have sex win, now can we? So that leaves Rufus Wainwright, who is perhaps not well known enough, and the non-threatening lesbian up for the award. I'm half surprised GLAAD didn't find a way to nominate Elton John or Boy George this year, as there's nothing that the world loves so much as bitter, tired old queens.
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Now, I like The Daily Show, and I usually think Jon Steward is funny and talented...but, again, his contribution this year largely amounted to making fun of homophobes, and there's nothing particularly noteworthy or brave about that, especially when your audience is made up largely of people who pride themselves on how open-minded they like to think they are.
City of Heroes #7: It's a cute, somewhat silly look into the daily chores of the heroes of Paragon City, focusing on events that won't make sense unless you know about the changes to the game-world that took place in the most recent update. I particularly like the little details, like having the heroes all meet up underneath the giant statue of Atlas in front of city hall...just like every group in the game does...
Fables #33: It seems like it took a long time to get all the characters where they needed to be for the next story-line. The leisurely pace Willingham took feels like it robbed the larger story of much of it's momentum. I think the book is at it's best when it's more focused on a single story, not dancing around several as it was in the last few issues.
Angeltown #3: This very much felt like a middle-issue...nothing much happens and not a lot of new information comes out, but the characters move around as if there's a lot going on. Still, I'm enjoying this modern noir set in LA.
The Pulse #7: Jessica Jones wanders around for 22 pages and tries to make sense of the events of the Secret War mini...and really, that's as kind a description of this issue as I can give.
Gotham Central #27: I still haven't warmed to Jason Alexander's art yet. The story was a bit of a let-down as well, basically amounting to Catwoman forcing the real killer to confess, thus doing the detectives job for them.
JLA #110: I got a kick out of seeing the Syndicate's frustration in trying to adjust to the way the DCU operates and failing miserably. And unlike everyone else, I actually like the interludes with the Qwardians. Their zeal for nastiness is almost as infectious as the Syndicates.
Bloodhound #7: Good, nasty fun.
Hard Time #12: I'm really hoping that we don't have too long of a wait for the story to continue. I've grown very attached to these characters in the last twelve months and I want to know how their stories end. Gerber's created a compelling story here, and I'm hooked.
Ultimates 2 #2: The illusion of "edgy" content. Shock value for the sake of shock value, in order to distract you from the fact that all there is to the story is shock value. Pretty pictures, though.
She-Hulk #12: And the tangled mess that is the last years worth of Marvel comics finally catches up to Dan Slott's fun super-hero romp. The book was excellent as always, but the necessity of dealing with the character's past and recent history in other titles sapped some of the fun out of it.
Spider-Man/Human Torch #1: Okay, I like Dan Slott. I like Ty Templeton. This book was silly and fun and quite charming. So, why didn't I like it? I just don't like Spider-Man. At all. He's a whiny neurotic and I really have no interest in reading about his pity parties, even if they are counter-balanced by "the funny" as the kids say.
Simon Spector: Warren Ellis and Jacen Burrows give us a stylish and violent tale of the vigilante mystery-man that returns the archetype to its pulp roots. But although Ellis and Burrows find a clever solution to the problem of visually representing the deductive process, much of the rest of the story feels like a standard violent revenge tale. It's disappointing only in that I expected more out of the story based on the first half.
Angel Stomp Future: Far more satisfying is the collaboration with Juan Jose Ryp, a walking-tour of the future with a charmingly vicious doctor. She reminds me strongly of the old horror comic hosts, only the vicious little morality play is the future of society, which in the best sci-fi tradition is really our world today, only with slightly more impressive gadgets and consumables.
X-Men: Phoenix: Endsong #1: I always enjoy Greg Land's art, even if it is a little obviously photo-referenced at times, and his work is stunning in this book. The story by Greg Pak is at least not afraid to touch on Grant Morrison's run on the book, unlike all the other X-titles these days, but it does have the feel of editorial necessity to it, almost as if Marvel is trying to win back some of the readers that Morrison brought to the book. It's a good X-Men comic, but to call it that feels like I'm damning it with faint praise.
Concrete: The Human Dilemma #1: Apparently I managed to date Peter for six years without once discovering that he's a Concrete fan. You'd think it might have popped up in conversation at least once. Anyway, this was my first exposure to Concrete, and now I feel rather guilty for ignoring it for so long it's so good. It's charming and elegant, if a little preachy.
Wild Girl #3: The pace of the story picks up a bit, though by now even I'm starting to feel a little in the dark about what is actually meant to be happening, and what the role of the Dog Man is, other than to be menacing in a supernatural sort of way. The art by Shawn McManus is fantastic in any case.
The Question #3: I'm still really enjoying Rick Veitch's more metaphysical take on this character, and I think the solution the Metropolis' underworld has devised to do business without attracting Big Blue's attention, by doing business in the bathroom because he's too polite to look in there, is quite clever in a super-hero logic sort of way.
Deadshot #2: This is also turning into a "depraved" fun comic, to see the bad guys do the right thing the wrong way but for a good cause. It's an interesting twist on the ambiguity and morality of vigilantism, but it doesn't pretend to be anything other than an entertainment for folks with a dark sense of humor.
Sticky #1: There's no getting around the fact that this is a gay porn comic, so clearly it's not going to appeal to everyone. Story-wise, well, it's porn, so there is only the barest minimum of plot or story, and in this particular case there's no dialogue. But the art is definitely a cut-above what you expect from a porn comic, with expressive and attractive figures. The black-white-and-blue coloring gives the book a unique look that adds to it's over-all attractiveness. I'd heartily recommend this book to any fan of male figure work or erotic art.
The movie tie-ins continue with Batman: Scarecrow Tales. I wonder if DC sees the cool fan and critic reaction to Marvel's recent films as a good sign or a bad sign for Batman Begins?
Okay, I still think it's an idea whose time has passed, but the solicitation and cover for Batman #639 does seem to imply that, yes, indeed, Jason Todd is back from the dead, somehow. I don't know if that's brilliant or just pandering.
Deathstroke is the guest-villain of Batgirl #63, which I think is becoming an under-rated gem under Gabrych and Garza.
Superman Vs. The Flash looks like it could be a fun theme collection of stories...but it's got another one of those dull Alex Ross recreations as the cover.
I read Birds of Prey anyway, as it's one of the titles that Pete really likes, but #81 guest-stars Wildcat!, so I'm already looking forward to this one.
One of my favorite guilty pleasure comics gets the archive edition treatment with The Brave and The Bold Team-Up Archive. I may have to think about getting this one.
Day of Vengeance looks like it could be a very good look into the mystical characters of the DCU, and I notice that people are already complaining about the fact that it apparently is a "spin-off" of DC Countdown...a book, I'll remind people, we don't know anything about other than the title, cover, and creators. So, y'know, it seems a bit premature to be griping about it to me.
Doom Patrol #21 focuses on The Chief's origin...unless he was the secret architect of each team-member's "accident," I ain't interested.
Green Lantern Secret Files 2005 interests me not in the slightest.
If the "deadly super-powered team" that shows up in Legion of Super-Heroes #5 turn out to be Waid's "updated" Heroes of Lallor I reserve the right to make fun of people who call this series "fresh", "exciting" or "original"...
Omac Project looks promising as well, another meta-continuity series, but one looking at the gritty underbelly of the DCU, in the same vein as the recently cancelled Bloodhound and the excellent Manhunter.
On a related note, I can't believe that Richard Dragon hasn't been cancelled yet...
Howard Victor Chaykin's issue of Solo has me very excited, not only because it looks as if there isn't a single story using a DC character in it. Chaykin looks to be taking as much advantage of the series concept as he can.
Both Seven Soldiers titles for this month, Zatanna and Klarion the Witch Boy should be excellent. But you didn't need me to tell you that.
The cover of Teen Titans #23 is a nice group-shot of all the currently active Titans, as well as featuring some surprising teasers for new characters, if you're into that sort of thing.
The Question is the featured League of this month's Justice League Unlimited. I'm so fond of his characterization on the show I may have to pick this up.
(Is that a new terminology to replace the "Beyond the DCU" category? Sounds better at least...removes the implication that because these books aren't set in the super-hero continuity they are somehow superfluous.)
Tenryu: The Dragon Cycle will at least get a look from me, as I rather liked Fake, even if Matoh's other work in English, Until the Full Moon has no appeal to me at all. I probably would be interested in UTFM, except for the gender-changing aspect of the romance. I'd rather see an actual gay relationship than the "it's okay for me to love you because you're sometimes a woman" one that's in the comic.
Nothing from Humanoids or 2000AD appeals to me this month, however, though I did enjoy Bilal's Nikopol Trilogy.
City of Tomorrow should be another enjoyable fruit of Chaykin's recent productivity.
The Absolute Edition of the second volume of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen would look very nice next to the first volume on my shelf, but I don't think I'll have the $75 to spare this month.
Bite Club gets a "smaller-sized" trade. I guess someone at DC must have noticed that horror-themed manga sells pretty good.
Fables #36 gives us our first extended look at the Homelands, which promises an interesting new twist on the series premise. How have the villains been doing all this time?
I didn't like Pi or Requiem For A Dream, so am I allowed to not get excited about The Fountain?
Mnemovore has an intriguing premise and a great cover, but the "Body Snatchers for the ADD generation" is a big turn-off of a hard sell.
Vertigo: First Taste is, frankly, an idea that's long over-due.
So the Marvel Knights Spider-Man will be continuing past issue 12 after all. Does Marvel even make any distinctions between minis and ongoings anymore, or do they just decide once they see the Diamond order numbers?
Wow...Marvel turned the Macguffin from New Avengers into a series concept with Spider-Man: Breakout...and people complained about Identity Crisis cross-overs being forced...
Why do I get the feeling I'm not going to enjoy this new Power Pack series as much as I did the first one...when I was a kid.
Hercules: "Reeling from the tragic death of Thor"...I'm trying really hard not to read into that and failing utterly.
I will check out G.L.A, aka "Great Lakes Avengers" because Slott has earned the benefit of the doubt as a writer...but I can't promise to be terribly taken with characters I've never cared for in the past.
In the "throwing good money after bad" category, McFarlane toys has acquired the rights to make toys based on The Simpsons. I guess McFarlane wasn't paying attention to the horrible death by over-kill the line experienced at Playmates. I think the last thing toy retailers and comic shops are interested in right now are more Simpsons toys to serve as peg-warmers.
The titles for this year's Free Comic Book Day (on May 7th) have been announced. I'll probably be doing a rundown on what's worth picking up and what's worth leaving behind again. Right now, the only "Gold Sponsor" books that look promising are Bongo's Gimme! Gimme! Giveaway!, Image's Flight sampler and Gemstone's Uncle $crooge reprint. Again, I wish DC would put out a Vertigo sampler, or perhaps something to promote the Humanoids, 2000AD, Wildstorm and CMX as well as an all-ages book. I'm more interested personally in the "Silver Sponsor" offerings, especially Comics Festival!. The only one there I really don't like the idea of is Wizard's offering. The last thing in the world that people new to comics need to be shown is Wizard and it's amateurish frat-boy humor. I'm glad Tokyopop is doing a sampler, last year's was a big hit with our customers, though more manga samplers, from Viz or Del Rey would be welcome as well. And I still think an offering from AiT/Planet Lar would be a good idea.
Okay, I was willing to give the film a chance, up until I saw this. It looks really, really dull, and the little line at the end, "You know that looked cool" is a rather shameless attempt to deflect criticism, and one doomed to failure.
(But hey, I guess they had to put it on-line for people to dissect, since by playing it in front of the Elektra movie they've pretty much guaranteed that no one will see the trailer in theaters...)
In retail-related topics, the fourth printing of Green Lantern: Rebirth #1 seems to be the wall in terms of demand for this title in our area. After ordering a good number of printings one through three and selling out rapidly, the fourth printing is just sort of...sitting there.
In contrast, we still can't keep Identity Crisis in stock, and have now sold out of the seventh issue as well. And contrary to popular opinion, it is not just selling to hard-core DC fans. Casual readers and new readers are picking it up as well. In fact, the buying pattern seems to have been the same as for Avengers Disassembled, in that lots of people who don't normally buy the title picked it up to check it out, and people who had left comics came back to see what the big deal was.
And make of it what you will, but we don't seem to be having any trouble moving the Elektra Movie Adaptation or Elektra trades, which suggests to me that the target audience for the film must have enjoyed it, even if nobody else did.
I went in to work today to so some moving of shelves and rearrangement of stock, including our huge wall of manga. Our stock of manga has outgrown our ability to display it all, so I've had to pull lots of the older books, the "flipped" books, the books from defunct publishers, and the odd books where we've got one copy of one of the middle volumes off the shelves in order to make room for the newer titles and the titles that are still selling. So, if anyone is looking for hard-to-get manga, I may know where you can get some.
Speaking of manga, tangentially, if you come into the store and ask me where we keep the "how to draw" books, and you end up purchasing soft-core photos of barely legal Japanese girls, don't be surprised when I look askance at you while you tell me you're "an artist."
Lastly, finally got a chance to play some City of Heroes after my temporary absence from the net...and in addition to realizing that the new tendency for bosses and giant monsters to target defenders is no fun at all if you're playing a defender (a conclusion I came to after getting killed by the Winter Lord for the tenth time because my team-mate hit him and he decided to aggro on me instead...), I finally put my finger on why I can't take the Council/5th Column seriously. They're the Lucille Ball of the villain world. See, all the other villain groups are undone by the actions of the heroes. But the Council are undone by their own schemes as often as not. So when we were investigating a new storyline in which the Council attempt to place remote control devices into Devoured Earth creatures in an attempt to control them, I was not the least bit surprised to get to the final mission in the first chapter and discover that the Council were getting whupped good by the Devoured Earth already, before Rum Red and his team-mates even started beating up the bad guys.
I found this story reprinted in Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen and, well, frankly even I'm at a loss to explain some of this story. But I decided I must share it with the world, especially since the on-line community seems to be on a Jimmy Olsen kick lately.
I mean, I know the first thing that comes to mind when you have to go undercover is disguising yourself as a woman, but Jimmy just seems to be enjoying the attention he's getting from those men a little too much.
Anyway, Jimmy has to disguise himself as a woman in order to find out where a notorious gangster, "Big" Monte McGraw, has hidden some jewels, and this gangster happens to own a club that's auditioning dancing girls. Because gangsters always discuss where they hide their ill-gotten gains with chorus girls. Jimmy, er Julie, gets a role when it's revealed that she's the only girl who can catch a baseball...
(Actually, it's not that the other girls can't catch, it's just that Jimmy has so much more experience with balls flying at his face...)
[Sorry, I couldn't resist that one...]
McGraw, naturally, becomes enamored with Julie, much to the annoyance of Julie's room-mate, McGraw's old girlfriend, Maisie. Who has a pet chimpanzee. I'm sure that won't become a plot point later. Also, Maisie's apartment must be really hot and stuffy because she always has a fan on. I'm sure that won't be a plot point later either. And much wackiness ensues as they live together, including an extended sequence in which it turns out Jimmy ate dog food. But eventually McGraw takes Julie out on a real date, and tries to impress her in the classiest way possible: by whacking a guy.
Day-um! Jimmy is one cold mo-fo! I guess the lesson to be learned here is that murder is okay, so long as you only kill someone who would probably have been executed anyway.
(I guess they don't have any "accessory after the fact" laws in Metropolis.)
Huh. Who could have guessed something like that would happen once the chimp was introduced into the story?
Anyway, Julie/Jimmy overplays her hand when she begs off rehearsals because she's sick, so that she can secretly search the apartment for the missing jewels. Monte, when he hears that Julie is sick, rushes to her side in order to propose. That's a whirl-wind romance, that is. Once there he discovers Julie ransacking the apartment and, well, realizes something very important...
Really? He just now notices it? Then why is he so nonchalant about suspecting that the hair was fake? Did he think he was dating a bald girl? In any case, the problem is solved when Maisie's chimp clocks him one with the baseball bat. I guess the baseball themed cabaret was important to the plot too. Superman then conveniently shows up after all the danger is past to reveal that the missing gems were stuck to the blades of the fan that was conspicuously drawn into almost every panel showing the apartment. I guess the "off" switch on the fan was just too complicated for Jimmy to operate.
"I'm, uh, I'm only still wearing the dress because it's so darn comfortable..."
--DC does something really smart and puts out a book reprinting various Vertigo first issues, in a format and at a price that should make it an attractive seller for both direct-market stores and book stores...and the reaction from comic fans seems to largely consist of "But I already have those!" and "But those aren't complete stories!"
--Marvel announces a television ad for Marvel Adventures Fantastic Four, timed to premiere when the Fantastic Four movie will no-doubt be setting all kinds of here-to-fore unseen box office records...in other industries, this is what's referred to as "throwing good money after bad."
--John Bryne apparently said something foolish again, and for once nobody acted surprised...
--And how did I spend all my free time, cooped up at my mother's house with no connection to the internet? Not by reading comics, that's for sure. Instead, I listened to the Avenue Q soundtrack more times than I probably should have and watched my We Are Scissor Sisters...And So Are You and Starring Chip n Dale DVDs. The Scissor Sisters disc is fun, though I find that the experience of watching a live show rarely translates well into film or television. Or ever, really. But there's still lots of nifty goodies on the disc if you're a fan of the band. The "Chip n Dale" disc is interesting as well, as the films are clearly not remastered or shown in chronological order. They're just a bunch of "Chip n Dale" cartoons thrown on a disc and rushed out for sale, it looks like. There is even a bit of ethnic caricature that makes its way onto one of the shorts, and I understand Disney has been very careful about that sort of thing on their big, expensive, prestige format DVD releases. I know on my Silly Symphonies, World At War and Chronological Donald discs I've got to sit though Leonard Maltin talking about how "societal standards were different back then..." before I can watch a cartoon that involves ethnic humor or guns. So I guess Disney isn't worried about well-meaning busy-bodies complaining about Dale dressed as a caricature of a Chinese man.
--Oh, and that drive to get to work and avoid mudslides and boulders? Really long and really not worth it, especially given that this was the week all the rude and high maintenance customers decided to shop with us (trust me folks, I know how to handle a comic without bending it, you don't need to have a panic attack on that score), but I can't afford a week without pay, so it was rather a necessary trip. I did get to see snow on the mountains, and drive through some quaint little speed-traps, I mean towns.
--Please, when we have a nearly complete run of over forty years of a title, and I ask you which issue numbers you're looking for, so that I'll know which of the four heavy boxes to pull down off the shelf for you, do not answer me "Oh, the silver and bronze age issues..."
First of all, you basically just asked me for about half of the run. Secondly, the term "bronze age" was made up by convention and eBay dealers so that they could raise the prices of their long-boxes full of Starhunters, Fast Freddy Jackson and Marvel Chillers. I realize the term is becoming part of comics parlance, but it still doesn't have a generally accepted meaning. Plus, it just sounds silly.
--Also, when you ask for, say, Ghost Rider back issues, and I ask you which series you want, please do not respond "The original one." Do you mean The Original Ghost Rider title, the 70s biker comic, or the 60s cowboy comic?
--Lastly, please do not ask me which series has more women getting tied up in it, Betty By The Hour or Betty In Bondage...
I Drove Seven Hours Through Insane Traffic To Write This
My normal 30 minute commute took me 7 hours on Wednesday, thanks to the lengthy detours I had to go through in order to avoid mudslides, floods, washed out bridges and big freakin' rocks blocking the road. So...expect updates to be few and far between through the weekend, as the place I'm staying during this period doesn't have internet access.
That being said...I came all that way, listened to two two-disc musical scores and a radio play (Doctor Who: Shadow of the Scourge, because I was in the mood to hear Lisa Bannerman's Prof. Summerfield) for a comics week that, all in all, was rather dull.
Bloodhound, Hard Time, Hero Squared and the last of the Warren Ellis written Apparat books. The latest volume of Imadoki was the only manga title of interest to me, though I had rather expected From Eroica With Love to be released this week as well, but it was a no-show on our invoice.
On a related note, the newest issue of Alter Ego, a magazine I have no patience for under normal circumstances because of it's Golden Age fetishism and obsession with the minutiae of the comics industry's past, made it into my purchases because it contains material on Wildcat and his artist, Irwin Hasen. I'm sad like that.
And, in response to a rumor apparently going around on Mike's site, yes, I am the butch one. There really shouldn't have ever been any doubt. Heck, I'd go so far to say that, of all my co-workers, I'm the least gay-seeming one.
Still unable to travel anywhere without adding at least two, maybe three hours to my travel time, which meant no work again today...gosh, tomorrow's going to be all kinds of fun at the shop if I can't make it in...so, out of boredom, I looked to see what new trailers were out. As usual, the categories I rate the trailers at are based on how effective they are at getting me to want to see the film. "See it in the theater," "Add it to the Netflix queue" or "Wait for cable" are the standards.
See It In The Theater
The Pink Panther: I know, it's been forever since Steve Martin actually made a good comedy, but even if he fails completely at being amusing, there's still Jean Reno, Kevin Kline and (perhaps) Jason Statham to pick up the slack.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe: I think two film producers were sitting around one day, and one said; "Hey, that Lord of the Rings made a lot of money and had a lot of merchandise sales...are there any other fantasy properties that we could turn into a movie?"
"Well, there's always the Narnia books."
"But don't you think the not-at-all-subtle Christian allegory of those books might potentially alienate the audience, or at least make them think that Happy Meal and toy tie-ins are inappropriate?"
"Not if we get Disney to water it down to the point that it's just a generic fantasy film."
(The Narnia books are up there with the Oz books on Pete's list of favorites, and Lewis was actually fairly restrained in "TL,TWaTW"--as compared to, say, the later Narnia books or the Perlandia series--so regardless of my feelings I think I'm going to be made to see it.)
Bride and Prejudice: I love Austen's novel, and this looks like a beautiful, smart and funny updating of the story.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: It doesn't really matter what the film is like, I'll be going to see it. Although it is worth nothing that the trailer rather seems to assume that the audience is already passingly familiar with the source material...and we all know how well that usually works out in films.
In the Realms of the Unreal: This looks to be a very intriguing look into the work and mind of a little know but fascinating "outsider" artist, Henry Darger, and the monumental piece of fantasy art and fiction he created in secret.
Mirrormask: Visually stunning, but radiates enough weirdness that I doubt it will be much of a success. It'll probably garner a small cult audience that will sing its praises far above its merits, to the annoyance of all around them.
Add It To The Netflix Queue
Aliens of the Deep: The documentary aspect of this film about deep-ocean fish intrigues me...couldn't care less about James Cameron or the obvious sci-fi trappings that have been grafted onto it in order to trick people into going to see a documentary.
Kingdom of Heaven: It looks visually impressive, and the cast is good, but I can't help but see political meanings, intended or not, when you make a film about the Crusades in this day and age.
Sin City: I'm not trying to be a jerk or contrary when I say that audiences aren't going to go for this...if they don't laugh the film off the screen at the Mickey Rourke as a Muppet make-up, they will at the spot colors. This film is going to be hailed as a success by comic fans, film geeks, and people who want you to think that they're very clever and sophisticated, but everyone else is going to hate it. The visual style of the comics simply will not work on the screen.
The New World: Colin Farrell sure is pretty, but short of him looking longingly at a Native American girl, there's only the barest glimmer of a plot in this trailer. And enough films have already been made about "culture clashes between Native Americans and Europeans," this one had better have something more substantive plot-wise than that.
Wait For Cable
Ice Princess: The entire cast of this film is appealing, but short of strapping me into a Clockwork Orange-ian contraption and forcing me to watch, you're not going to get me to watch a movie about ice skating.
Cinderella Man: It's Russell Crowe, but on the other hand it's Renee Zellweger and Ron Howard...
Alone in the Dark: It's based on a video-game. There is no such thing as a watchable movie based on a video game.
Kicking and Screaming: Will Ferrell follows up the brilliant Anchorman with another tepid "family" comedy...Has no one told him that Eddie Murphy's career track is not one to follow?
Wedding Crashers: Owen Wilson is pretty much the kiss-of-death for any film as far as I'm concerned. Add to that the complete disinterest I have in the concept of men hitting on women at weddings as a comedic subject, and this ranks pretty low down on my list of films to catch.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: Johnny Depp looks like a drag queen who's seen better days, and that shouldn't be a complaint. Honestly, there's no reason for this film to be made, other than Burton's ego. And to all the people defending it on the grounds that the version starring Gene Wilder wasn't "faithful" to the book...I assure you, this one isn't going to be either.
Chicken Little: Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't the point of the original story that listening to fear-mongers would inevitably lead to our own destruction? Guess it's no longer politically kosher to make a movie about how paranoia is a bad thing.
Assault on Precint 13: Ethan Hawke hasn't been good in anything since Explorers, but it's kind of cute to watch him try to be "hard" in this and fail miserably. Maybe if they hadn't cast a really good actor like Laurence Fishbourne as his opposite number it would have been less tragic.
War of the Worlds: Oh, I'm sure that there won't be any subtle political allegory in this film...
The Amityville Horror: I think the only people still trying to peddle this as a "true" story are the makers of this film. Not that the original film was any good, but it appears that the makers decided it could be improved with even more cheesy special effects.
I think I mostly agree with Nate Southard, with reservations. I think where Southard goes wrong is in comparing horror in comics with horror in film. This puts a strong emphasis on the visual aspect of horror, and what visually works in horror on film doesn't translate to comics. Still pictures just aren't that scary, really. And you can't do the kind of "gross-out" or "shock/surprise" horror in comics that can work in film because of that.
I think a more apt comparison to what works in horror comics is the horror novel. The most effective horror I've found in both mediums makes effective use of mood and pacing to draw the reader in, identity with the characters, and actually feel for the danger they're in. You can build suspense and tension in a comic as effectively as in a novel, you just have to know what you're doing. I think the real problem with horror in comics is that most of what is called horror isn't very good.
The current vogue in horror comics is vampire and zombie comics, and I think both figures are boring, over-used, trite and cliche, in addition to not really being very scary at all. With the vampire comics, most of the intent seems to be to prove that this nostalgic figure can be "made" scary by taking off the evening wear and putting it in more contemporary clothes. And the zombie comics, well, I honestly think they're a fad that's just about run their course. My point is, they're both just taking older horror figures and transplanting them to comics, and that makes them more nostalgic exercises than attempts to scare.
I think the best horror in comics I've seen has been by Junji Ito. His work is all about the slow build, with things gradually getting worse and worse until everything goes to hell. And in the midst of it all is the view-point character, simply struggling to survive and make sense of their world, with no guarantee that things will end well for them at all. Visually, I think his work is effective because most of the horror in his comics comes out of violating "the way things ought to be," with the natural world breaking down into an irrational one. His work is very detailed and realistic, but we're almost more horrified by the thought of a foul-smelling fish with legs or our hair twisting up into spirals than by the visual of it. His visuals serve to ground the horribleness of the idea into a kind of reality, even if it's only the reality of the comics page.
Well, since mudslides on both of the south-bound freeways are going to keep me home today, I may as well try and catch up on some reviews.
Legion of Super-Heroes #1: Well, I've read the most recent relaunch now, this time by Waid and Kitson, and I have to say, I don't like it. The art is nice enough, and the story is entertaining enough, but too many elements of this story feel very carefully designed to appeal to the long-term Legion fan (the retro code-names, the Mike Grell-era inspired costumes, the complete and utter lack of any back-story for the setting or characters here) while superficially resembling a slick, ultra-cool and modern super-hero book. The line "eat it, grandpa" would have a lot more resonance if it wasn't coming out of the mouth of a character who has appeared in comics for forty years. It's safe and the same-old-same-old, but tarted up in fancy new clothes in the hopes that you won't spot the wrinkles.
Superman/Batman #16 and Teen Titans #19: I'm going to review these together, because I basically have the same thing to say about them both. While I enjoy these titles as good, escapist super-hero fare, playing off my love of the DCU and its history, there are times I really wish that DC had gone for a less inward looking, long-time fan appealing approach with these titles. These could be DC's flagship books, but they're hampered by the in-jokiness of it all.
Adam Strange #4: And on the other side of the scale, we have this title. I've never read an issue of Omega Men in my life, but I'm given a basic idea of their role in the DCU and this story from their brief introduction. And as usual, Ferry's art is gorgeous and Diggle's story is fun. And now, shameful fanboy speculation ahoy: The mysterious figure being worshiped by Thanagarian officer Sh'ri Valkyr, given his cryptic statement about becoming a shadow, and given rumors that this title is of some import for DC's future publishing plans, suggests Anti-Monitor to me. But I'm weird like that. [Highlight blank area to read my geeky predictions]
Ultimate Fantastic Four #14: I like the work of Warren Ellis, but this title frustrates me in how long it takes for very little to happen. And I know it's because it's written for the trade paper-back, but still...
Ultimate Nightmare #4: And see, I know Ellis can write for the trade and still pack action and information into a comic. See, he does that in this issue. So why does his FF feel like such slow-going?
Batman #635: I was hoping that with Winick coming onto Batman we'd maybe start to see a fun Bats title again, but the events of the War Games cross-over pretty much put an end to that hope. Still, there's enough material here to hold my interest. I find myself intrigued by the new villain status-quo, by the emphasis on organized crime-type villains with the occasional freaky psychotic thrown into the mix. And the more street-level Batman is appealing, now that his access to all the nifty new toys has been cut-off. And the identity of the new Red Hood is a good comics-type mystery...because you know it's going to rely on both in-story clues and the reader's knowledge of the DCU to make it work. And no, I don't think it's going to be Jason Todd. That trick would have worked in the "Hush" story-line, but not anymore.
Wildguard: Fire Power: I've always liked Nauck's art in the past, and the first Wildguard mini was lots of fun, so it was very welcome to revisit these characters and to get a taste of what Nauck plans to do with them in the future. The art has an engaging, cartoony style that's very easy on the eye and the story is fun, taking the concept of a super-hero reality show through it's absurd paces. I'm less thrilled with the Little Miss Sunshine back-up story. Sean Galloway's figures are very emaciated and I don't find them appealing, and he seems overly fond of drawing panty shots for my taste.
Strange #3: There was something about this issue that really bugged me, but I couldn't place my finger on it. Then prevailing critical opinion seemed to decide that Straczynski was rewriting The Matrix here, only casting it in fantasy rather than sci-fi garb, and my problem clicked. Not that I necessarily agree that that is what Straczynski is doing, but the book does feel awfully derivative of many, many things that have gone before.
Monolith #11: Something of this issue suggests to me that Palmiotti and Gray may not have had much advance word regarding the cancellation of the book. The story feels a little rushed, with frequent cutting between scenes and flashbacks. I'm going to miss this series.
Quit City #1: The second Apparat book, with art by Laurenn McCubbin, is not quite as successful as Frank Ironwine, I think. The emotional core of the story is there, but the notion of the aviator hero is perhaps too far removed from the contemporary aesthetic for it to have much resonance. Luckily the fact that the lead is an ex-adventuress is almost totally unimportant to the story. The important point is simply that she's the girl who got out of the small town, and then came back. That's where the meat of the story is. McCubbin has a visually dynamic and interesting art style, and I can easily see why it doesn't sit well with some people. Personally I find her figure-work fascinating to look at. Her figures are very expressive and emotive, but they still have a rough-hewn look to them. It's a very expressionistic style that you don't often see in American comics.
303 #2: Regarding my earlier comments about war comics, this is shaping up to be more of a DC style war comic, but it's clear Ennis has read his share of Marvel war comics as well. And, of course, leave it to Ennis to write a contemporary war comic that explicitly criticizes American military adventurism, and yet fills it with enough gore and machismo to please people who don't care about the book's politics. Jacen Burrows is probably my favorite of the artists who regularly do work for Avatar, and his pencils look absolutely stunning in color.
It occurs to me that I should probably say something about the recently announced Supergirl series by Jeph Loeb and Ian Churchill, seeing as how the lack of a continuity-lite, all-ages-friendly, new-reader accessible female super hero title set in the DC universe is a hole I've seen in DC's publishing. Well, Loeb has proven himself to be at least a generally entertaining writer, and I rather thought Churchill acquitted himself nicely on his short run on Uncanny X-Men. But...Churchill's art is of the same over-rendered, questionable-anatomy school that's so popular in contemporary comics, and Loeb's work heavily relies on fanboy pleasing in-jokes (see every issue of Superman/Batman for examples). So it strikes me that DC is pitching this new Supergirl title to the same audience that already buys heavy-continuity titles like Superman/Batman and JSA. When a more appropriate tone, I think, would be the lite-continuity titles like, say, Plastic Man or to a lesser extent the current Action Comics.
(Scrolling down that article a bit, I notice that Loeb mentions that the first issue of Supergirl will feature Power Girl and the JSA...so, yeah, continuity heavy title it looks like...)
For the record, we ordered a little heavy and it's been a slow seller for us. I'm sure we will eventually sell most of our copies, but at this point it'll be due to people trying to find the "hot, sold out" first printing...
A recent phone call at work: "Do you carry Ru-nez?"
I'm sorry, do we carry what?
"Ru-Nez? I'm looking for some Ru-Nez."
That title doesn't sound familiar to me. Who publishes it?
"It's not a book. They're these little stones with symbols carved on them and you use them to foretell the future."
Moments later, from Mike: Did you tell them to try the BullShit Store?
(Mike, for the record, really, really hates people who claim to be psychic...Just saying the name "John Edwards" around him is good for about five minutes of an entertaining rant.)
We've been getting a lot of requests for old war comics lately, which is good because we've been getting a lot of old war comics in collections we've bought lately, and I've noticed something interesting about them. If you take just about any DC war comic at random, the conclusion to the story will almost certainly be: "Oh, when will mankind learn the folly of war and cease these pointless deaths?" Heck, most of the stories actually have a button that reads "Make War No More" in place of the more typical "The End." By contrast, just about any random Marvel war comic ends with "Yay! We've once again defeated America's enemies! Another victory for white, Anglo-Saxon culture! Isn't killing people who disagree with us swell?"
And people are...surprised by the right-ward slant Marvel seems to be taking editorially?
So, now that I've recovered from my initial shock and dismay regarding the prospect of a Wachowski Brothers produced film adaptation of V For Vendetta (my true initial reaction involved a lot of swearing, even for me), I thought I'd make a case as to why this film is a bad idea, citing examples from my experience with previous films based on Moore's work as a retailer. (There will be spoilers here, but it's my belief that the "Spoiler Warning" rule doesn't apply to material that's 20 years old or more. By the way, Gandalf doesn't really die, Rosebud is a sled, and Norman is a cross-dresser.)
--I shouldn't have to defend the quality of the source material. And yet, every time a crappy movie is made based on a comic or book that's good, that's what happens. Before the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen movie came out, when people asked me to recommend a good comic and I suggested LOEG they took my suggestion in good faith. Now they look at me as if I've gone insane and I then have to take the time explaining that "No, all they really took from the comic was the title, they're completely different." The exact same situation applies to From Hell, with people reluctant to pick up the comic for fear of page after page of psychic detectives smoking opium. If you further doubt me, go ahead and recommend the Steve Gerber written Howard the Duck comics to your non-comics reading friends and see how they react. As Mike has discovered many times, the sheer awfulness of that film has perhaps forever destroyed the reputation of the comics it was based on. And I realize that I am in the minority on this, but be prepared for the same reaction to the Sin City comics once the film is released.
--The public at large doesn't seem to understand the concept of "based on." To return to the LOEG example, I've lost track of the number of people who assume that the comic is an adaptation of the film, not the other way around. Since comics are such a specialty item, for a limited audience, and since this V film is being advertised via it's connections to The Matrix, it's entirely likely that most people hearing about the film are never going to realize that it was a comic first. And the vast majority of people who casually discover the comic after hearing about the film are going to assume that the comic is derivative of the film. Which would be fine, except:
--Since more people will see the film than read the comic, this will create an incorrect assumption about the content of the comic. Let's be honest here, the Wachowski Brothers and their creatures have not shown themselves to be people interested in making thoughtful films about political repression and the anarchist philosophy. They're not going to make a movie in which V takes the time to educate Evey. No, they're people who make action movies, specifically action movies which contain lots of pseudo-intellectual dialogue that sounds good but doesn't actually hold up to any thought in service to "kewl" special effects and stunt scenes. And here's another harsh truth: there is no way in hell they found an actor to play V who consented to having his face and voice obscured for two hour or more by a Guy Fawkes mask. We're going to see V without the mask. So, already I'm seeing one of two possible ends for the film; V is really Evey's father after all and he rescues her from the totalitarian government, or he's some damnably handsome guy that Evey falls in love with...and he rescues her from the totalitarian government. In either case, he's not going to die in the end. This is because:
--There are lots of things about the source material that American film-goers will not accept. You know how my problem with the Sin City movie is a combination of lack-of-faith in the creators and the belief that American's are going to laugh their assess off at a black-and-white film with spot color and Mickey Rourke's Muppet-esque make-up? A lot of that applies to V as well. The symbolism of the limited color palette? Gone. V as a murderous terrorist? Gone. The huge cast of characters, each with a story to tell and a role to play? Gone. V always being one step ahead of his enemies? Gone. Americans want their stories simple and easy to understand. We're going to see V as the heroic freedom fighter, rescuing Evey from the one or two bad eggs that have spoiled the other-wise impeccable political system. We're certainly not going to see V blowing up any buildings in these hyper-sensitive times. This is going to be a super-hero movie in which V solves all the world's problems by hitting bad guys, probably in a way which involves slow motion wire-fu and lots of quick cuts in editing.
Oh, and that "Remember, remember the fifth of November" line on the poster...American's don't know what Guy Fawkes day is, and are going to assume that the film is going to open on November fifth.
--The history of Moore adaptations to film, and comics adaptations in general, gives me the right to be skeptical about this one. If anything, Moore's work has proven itself to be untranslateable to film. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen has proven to be the most faithful adaptation of one of his works, and we all know how that turned out. Even an adaptation that is generally regarded as having some merit, and I'm aware that the From Hell film has it's defenders, still fundamentally misunderstood the source material. Any film which purports to be an adaptation of From Hell and makes the identity of Jack the Ripper the central mystery of the film, is a film whose makers didn't understand what the book was about. Making V For Vendetta of all things into a movie suggests that someone, somewhere just wanted to make a comic book into a movie because X-Men and Spider-Man made lots of money.
--It will affect sales. From Hell has enough of a reputation amongst intellectuals that it's sales haven't been too badly hurt by the film. But LOEG at this point only sells to hard-core comics fans. The casual reader has no interest in it, thanks to the film. When I do get interest in it these days, nine times out of ten it's a child or parent who is interested because they just saw the film and expect that the comic is going to be just like the movie. And given the sales patterns we usually see on comic-to-film adaptations, I'm going to get a lot of requests for the V trade up until the movie comes out. And then no one is going to want it. Especially if the movie is, as I expect, crap, and bears no thematic or stylistic resemblance to the comic.
New blog Trade Whore is off to an impressive start, and is already having a contest. All you have to do to win a copy of the excellent Gotham Central trade is send in your nomination for worst comic of 2004 by Jan. 16.
Speaking of contests, you've all entered Laura's contest for a copy of the very entertaining Jeff Nicholson fantasy series Colonia, right? Deadline is Jan. 20, and all she asks of you is a 50 word or less essay about using comics as an educational tool.
Lastly, I'm really happy to discover the new blog Bear in the City. Not only is he another gay comics blogger, but he's a bear blogger as well, and he's got several very nice links to gay art and comics up already.
JSA #68: I'll be polite and say that the Alex Ross cover does nothing for me. There was a lot of talk about the appropriateness of the violence in this story, and it does seem to largely serve no other purpose than to impress upon the reader that Per Degaton is now "hardcore", but since the story involves time-travel and has the cosmic reset button written all over it, I have a hard time taking it too seriously.
Wild Girl #2: Man, I have put off reviews for a while, #3 just came out. People seem to be bothered a bit by the lack of exposistion in this title, but I don't mind it at all. The main character doesn't have any clue what's going on, why should the reader? In any case, I find the story pretty compelling, and the art is wonderful.
Angeltown #2: The cast is still being gathered and assembled, and the relationships, and more importantly the double-crosses, between the characters is fleshed out a little more. Vertigo has had pretty good luck impressing me with their mystery titles, and this modern noir set in LA is worth a look, especially for Shawn Martinbrough's art.
She-Hulk #10: The origin of Titania and her feud with She-Hulk is explored, and I never thought I'd see the specter of the Secret War used to good effect in a Marvel comic. Good, fun stuff.
Fables #32: A visit from an unexpected relative and a mysterious figure stalking the fables complicates matters for our casts at the Farm and in Fabletown. About the only thing that would have improved this issue is more Reynard.
ps238 #9: Tyler, the boy with no super powers, receives his first week-end of training with the super-hero mentor assigned to him. It's an excellent, grin-inducing comic, and the back-up story is a reminder as to why you should never fully trust Zodon.
Full Frontal Nerdity Annual #1: Another Aaron William's book, this one venturing into Knights of the Dinner Table and Dork Tower territory to give us jokes about gamers themselves. It's got plenty of the funny, but it's very gamer-centric, and maybe not for everyone as a result.
Dangerous #3: Gay porn comics from Sin Factory. The stories illustrated by Thundertori and Pluto have some very nice manga-style art, and the cover is very attractive.
Demo #12: The conclusion to Wood and Cloonan's marvelous series of stand-alone tales. It's tempting to read the book as a summation of all that has gone before, especially with that slightly ambiguous ending, but I think that does a disservice to the romanticism of this story. It's an excellent conclusion to one of the best comics to be published last year. And that back-up, where Wood and Cloonan swap out the writer/artist roles: very nice.
Girl Genius #13: Agatha gets to know her new traveling companions as danger strikes and new mysteries are revealed. Phil and Kaja Foglio's fantasy series is one of my favorite regular comics, and it's hard to resist a cute girl with glasses tinkering around with things Man Was Not Meant To Know.
Bet you never thought you'd see this book reviewed here, did you? Well, if it weren't for Hugh Hefner's sense of humor, this page probably wouldn't even be here. Let me back up and explain that a bit.
As a kid, the only comics I ever read were Disney comics bought in the three-packs that the local grocery store carried, and some tabloid sized reprints of Disney comics and EC science-fiction comics. Very rarely a Batman or Wonder Woman comic would be bought for me, on the basis that I liked the television shows so therefore I must like the comics as well. And, eventually, I found my grand-father's Playboys. Unsurprisingly, I was bored to tears by all the naked ladies that kept interrupting the articles and the cartoons. But those cartoons could keep me fascinated for hours. Through Playboy I was introduced to the best cartoonists and illustrators working. Playboy introduced me to Gahan Wilson, Jules Feiffer, Harvey Kurtzman, Doug Sneyd, Eldon Dedini, Will Elder and Jack Davis. It didn't take me long to learn to go through an issue and pick out different artists by their distinctive styles and learn which were executing their craft with the most wit and talent. In other words, Playboy trained me to have some taste and discrimination in my choice of artists, or at least was an important step along the way.
This book collects the best of the single-panel gag strips that have appeared in Playboy during it's first fifty years of publication, along with selected comic strips that have appeared in the magazine. Sadly no "Little Annie Fanny" is included, though Dark Horse has an excellent two-volume collection reprinting the entire run of the strip. Most of the cartoons are reprinted full-page, and on these glossy, over-size pages they are truly marvelous to behold, with strong clarity and color. What's also noteworthy is how timeless most of the cartoons feel. Very few of them feel aged or quaint, and the occasional bites of satire at moral hypocrisy and narrowness still strongly resonate. And the cartoons that do occasionally feel to be "of their time" stand as testaments to the longevity of the magazine. One in particular bears pointing out. A boy at a boarding school refuses to take down an old pin-up from Playboy off of his wall. The model is his grandmother, you see.
There was no update this morning because I over-slept. I over-slept because I forgot to set my alarm clock. I forgot to set my alarm clock because City of Heroes updated on Tuesday, and so Rum Red and the rest of his team on Victory have been busy; averting a gang war between the Tsoo and the Family, stopping a mage war between the Circle of Thorns and the Banished Pantheon, recovering all the pieces of the legendary Wheel of Destruction before it can fall into the wrong hands, and trying to stop The Council from taking over complete control over Striga Island...
So...Frank Miller on Batman, huh? I wonder if he's going to play it straight, or write in his "satire so subtle no one realizes he's making a joke" style?
So...no more Dreamwave, huh? I'm guessing what finally did them in was the combination of declining sales and fixed license fees, and an expansion of the line past what the audience was prepared to buy. One Transformers book is fine, two is a bit much but still doable, but three regular, on-going Transformers titles...at that point you're cannibalizing your own sales.
Now, the interesting thing to see is if the license will be picked up by somebody else, or if the market is starting to weary of reviving older toy properties as comics. Judging by our sales on 80s toy and cartoon comics, I think the market is probably growing a bit tired of these things. Yeah, it's kind of cool to see something you loved as a kid come back...but seeing everything you liked as a kid come back in comic form...that must get kind of dull.
Your gay porn link of the day: Gay-themed Japanese erotic sim, featuring big, beefy masculine guys instead of the usual, vaguely disturbing hermaphroditic boy/men you get in your typical yaoi/shonen-ai title.
Speaking of gay porn, the first issue of Sticky from Eros Comix shipped today. It looks quite nice, with attractive, masculine figures and an effective use of a limited color palette. I hope to have a review up once I have a chance to give it a closer look.
Despite the fact that it was a light week for comics, it was a huge week for manga...tons of stuff came in. I'm not too sure I like the idea of Viz shrink-wrapping their "editor's choice" titles and stick "Parental Advisory: Explicit Content" stickers on them (on the books themselves, not the wrappers...I hate that!). I'm sure it's in response to requests from the book-store market, but I can't help but think that it's a move that will a) discourage browsing of titles, thereby discouraging sales and b) foster the already too common belief that Japanese comics are "dirty" and not suitable for children.
Today we received a copy of How to Draw the Human Figure, and I remarked that since it's an art-instruction book that isn't manga and features, you know, anatomically correct figures, that we won't be able to sell it. Pal Mike suggested we send a copy off to Rob Liefeld...
Speaking of Mike, I know it's become common for people to view us as a double act, with me the Dean Martin to his Jerry Lewis...but to get the full effect you really need to get Captain Corey in the room as well. Then you can see that the dynamic is more like; I'm the Groucho, to Mike's Chico and Corey's Harpo.
(Though I should note that Mike considers himself to be more the Zeppo type, but it's my analogy and I say he's Chico, dammit!)
Yes, that's right, you've failed to live up to the standards of ethical behavior as set down by a steroid user, an alcoholic weapons manufacturer, and a nut-case with a hammer who thinks he's god...hang your heads in shame!
If you've been missing the patented Giffen and DeMatteis brand of humor, then this is the book for you. The blend of slap-stick and character based humor is here. The economical characterization is here. Even the Martin and Lewis style pacing of the banter is here.
The set-up of the book is right out of any big super-hero cross-over event: a terribly evil foe has crushed the Earth in an effort to destroy one particular hero, who must now travel to a parallel world to find his counter-part there to help him defeat the enemy. Only in this case, Captain Valor has traveled to a world in which there are no super-powered beings, and his counterpart is a beer-gutted slacker. And the enemy forces are already underway.
Giffen and DeMatteis are an excellent comedy team and this book got plenty of laughs out of me. Plot-wise, well, the plot isn't as important as the comedy, though there is some merit to be had in dropping a motiveless slob into the middle of a vast cosmic crisis. Artist Joe Abraham is an excellent find. His work is very detailed as well as expressive, and he's got a real talent in conveying body language (I especially like the toadying lackey Sloat's use of air-quotes). He could perhaps benefit from an inker, as the book looks like it was colored directly over the penciled pages, which gives the art a soft, unfocused look at times.
Hero Squared is a $3.99, full color comic book from Atomeka Press. If you like your superheroics with some wit and humor, check this book out.
It's looking like a very light week for comics this week. Which is odd, because traditionally the week between Christmas and New Years is the light week, and traditionally a skip week. Yet we had easily twice as many books come in last week as are scheduled for this week.
I mention this only because this might be the first week in over a month in which I don't have more books arriving than I have spaces on our comics racks...
It's vaguely distressing to realize that after all this time, slapping a picture of Boba Fett on the cover of a Star Wars comic can still cause a jump in sales.
Naming your child after your favorite super-hero, and then decorating your child's room with pictures and toys of that super-hero, is a very cruel thing to do to a kid. It's not going to mean anything to the kid, and once they're old enough to understand what you did, they're only going to resent you for it.
I'm going to go out on a limb here and predict that the sales on this upcoming Buckaroo Banzai comic are going to follow the same sales pattern as Snake Plisken Chronicles, Ghostbusters: Legion and Army of Darkness: Ashes 2 Ashes; sales on the first issue will be really good, the second issue will do okay but will still have a significant drop in readership, and sales on subsequent issues will plummet faster than a lead weight dropped from a great height. Into a pit. Until at last only the most die-hard fans of the property will still be buying it.
(And why do I suspect someone, somewhere is going to take that statement as a disparagement of either the property, Moonstone, or the creators of the comic?)
Speaking of unexpected revivals, apparently Red Sonja is coming back to comics. Again. And it's going to be a barbarian fantasy series. Again. So, basically, Roy Thomas and Frank Thorne killed any chance of me ever seeing a faithful adaptation of Howard's one Sonya story, in which she is a 16th century Russian gunfighter fighting the Ottoman Turks...
(I'm sorry, it's a pet peeve of mine...I also really hate when people have Conan and Soloman Kane team up, despite the fact that Kane would gun Conan down the first time he blasphemously praised Crom...)
This issue of Howard The Duck was written by Christopher Steger and drawn by Val Mayerik, and was released to coincide with what was going to be the successful film adaptation of the Howard comics. This sequence takes place over the last three pages of the book, after Howard has won a fortune in the lottery and lost it in an attempt to create the "perfect" wife.
So, the character picking up Howard while he's hitch-hiking is listening to show-tunes over the radio, uses effeminate language like "cheerio" and "duckcakes" and bears a vague resemblance to Walt Disney. I'm sure the stories about the Disney company forcing Marvel to redraw Howard so that he didn't resemble Donald Duck had nothing to do with this slanderous caricature. Oh, and he's traveling to San Francisco, and we all know what kind of perverts live there, don't we?
Oh, and look, he's got a limp wrist as well. How terribly original.
What the? "Fruit?" "Sally?" Not only is the caricature tired and cliched, but Howard's insults are as well. Oh, and he's listening to Judy Garland? Like we hadn't figured out yet that the character was meant to be gay, I suppose.
I'm going to be the bigger man and assume that the reference to Merv Griffin didn't have anything to do with those rumors.
Amyl nitrate? Marvel published a comic in which Walt Disney offers Howard the Duck poppers whilst propositioning him for sex? How the hell did this get past Marvel's legal department? And calling a gay man "nancy" is about as unoriginal an insult as ever there was. I mean, "somdomite" is about as old and stupid an insult as "nancy."
I mean, at least in that Hulk magazine I talked about a while back there's a potential reading of how Bruce Banner really wants to have sex with another man, but this is just three pages of Howard spewing homophobic epithets. And it's not even funny. It's too sad and stupid to really be offensive for that matter. It's pathetic.
Wonder Woman #211: The art of Sean Philips is always a joy to look at, and the resolution of the Medousa storyline has quite a bit more emotional depth than your standard super-hero slugfest. I am rather hoping that the Veronica Cale storyline does get resolved before too much longer, as a villain motivated primarily by jealousy isn't very compelling.
Authority: Revolution #3: As I've said before, a good anti-Authority argument could be made in this book, but casting racist homophobes who mind-control their followers as the ones in the posistion making the critique rather undermines the point.
Losers #19: The big last page revelation wasn't terribly surprising, given all the hints that have been dropped about Aisha in the past. We just needed the final bit of information for it all to fall into place. It's probably a good thing that the reason why the Losers went rogue has been dealt with so early, because given the mix of patriotism and sentimentality that goes into it, it would have been a bit of a let-down had it turned into a big important point later on in the series. Get the two big secrets of the series out in the open fairly quickly, and the stories can be built on.
Astonishing X-men #7: At least it looks nice. I'm just not seeing the qualities of Whedon's writing that others are. It reads like a pointless exercise in nostalgia to me, with the added illusion of forward momentum. I suppose the characterization is good, but really, most of the X-Men are so one-note it's hard to write them badly.
Witching #7: Almost went on my year-end wrap-up as "Best Book Only I'm Reading." Leigh Gallager's art holds more appeal for me with each issue, and Vankin's script is so slyly funny I can't help but enjoy the book.
Manhunter #5: It's very good, and I like seeing the less-than-heroic underbelly of the DCU.
Gotham Central #26: Jason Alexander's art might take some getting used to. It's nice to see Josie Mac get more of a spot-light, but since I was never able to get my hands on the back-up series in which she premiered I'm sort of at a lost as to what, exactly, her powers are supposed to be, and the way they're addressed here is just vague enough to confuse me a little.
JLA #109: It's remarkable fun, seeing both the Qwardians and the Syndicate doing their thing, watching all the pieces fall into place before the inevitable big fight. I can't wait to see more of Busiek's take on the League.
JLA: Classified #2: Though suffering slightly from "middle-issue syndrome," with more time getting the pieces into place for the conclusion than on just about anything else. The care that's been taken with the panel design and layout, and the density of information being presented, makes this book especially rewarding after a close reading. And I love Morrison's "big mad ideas thrown at the reader" method of storytelling. It's such an exuberant and unashamed method of storytelling, you almost can't help but get into it.
Identity Crisis #7: The conclusion to what is probably the most talked-about comic of the year. No, as a mystery it's not very compelling, or logical; but then it was never really about who killed Sue Dibny, was it? It was about the dark secrets of the JLA's past, and how those secrets have come back to haunt them. The mystery was a macguffin, the spring-board Meltzer used to get into the heads of DC's iconic characters. On that score, I think the series was a success. The characterization in the series was phenomenal, even if the "bitch crazy" resolution comes a little out of left-field.
Hawkman #35: Ooh, purty art! Even if a little too much care has been taken in drawing Hawkgirl's ass. Palmiotti and Gray continue to impress me with their stories, and this particular story-line, in which all of Hawkman's Rogues are joining together for some revenge should be a pleaser for the big guy's fans.
Catwoman #38: I guess I'm the only comics blogger who doesn't mind Paul Gulacy's art. I guess I'm also the only one who thinks the idea of the villain with wooden switchblade arms and a deliberately goofy name like "Wooden Nickel" is a great idea. This title needs an occasional dose of levity, and Scott Morse appears to be bringing it with a charmingly strange, old-fashioned villain.
Heroes Anonymous #6: Overall, this series about super-heroes in group therapy was enjoyable, with a nice touch of levity, but the final issue just didn't seem to gel for me.
Plastic Man #13: The first issue of this series that sort of fell-flat for me. The art felt rushed and incomplete, far short of Baker's usual standards, and the gags were a little stale and predictable.
Ex Machina #7: It seems a bit odd to be introducing more supernatural elements into the story, after making such a point out of the fact that Mitchell Hundred "just happens" to have superpowers, but all the usual praise I give this title for it's art and storytelling still applies.
Ocean #3: Good stuff. Purty art. The story takes another turn. And again, more information is packed into the book than has become the standard for the 32 page form.
Deep Fried Vol. 2 #1: This comic is sick, depraved, offensive, blasphemous, perverted and degrading to read. And I can't remember a comic that ever made me laugh more than this one. Hi-fucking-larity on every page.
Green Lantern Rebirth #3: I'm not a particular Green Lantern fan, but Pete and I both tend to be DCU fans, so the big-event books we tend to check out. The "explanation" via convoluted retconning that Johns provides here had me rolling my eyes at several points, while Pete was making little exasperated sighs of annoyance at almost every page. Something tells me, however, that the kinds of folk who wrote in angry letters to DC and Wizard about "what they did to our substitute daddy Hal" loved this.
Solo #2: I'm much more impressed with this Richard Corben outing than the Jeph Loeb one. The stories are less super-hero centric, and feel more like Corben just doing whatever the hell he felt like doing. The horror/sci-fi/fantasy stories are quite good, in an EC-via-Slow Death kind of way, and the one super-hero tale, featuring the Spectre, is an interesting take on the character I don't think we've seen before.
Conan #11: Busiek and Nord finish their adaptation of what is probably the best known Conan story, expanding it to meet the story-telling expectations of an audience accustomed to forensic investigations in their mysteries, while remaining true to both the story and the spirit of Howard's character.
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green lantern rings set Is there nothing Green Lantern fans won't buy? Power ring replicas, power battery props, Hal Jordan was possessed by an evil supernatural entity from before time and is thus not responsible for his actions...
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spandex fetishist Well, I do read more super-hero books than I probably should...
background movie elektra A character whose raison d'etre was to be killed proved to be popular and so she kept getting brought back, even though she's not a terribly interesting character when removed from her original context. At some point, film producers get it into their heads that turning comic books into movies is a sure fire way to make lots of money and Marvel goes ape-shit optioning off as many of their characters as possible for films. So now we have a film coming out that will largely amount to two hours of Jennifer Garner trying to keep from giggling while she recites ridiculously over-wrought and senseless dialogue.
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dc golden age sandman archive review My goal for the new year is to get reviews done in a more timely manner, so it's coming, I promise.
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