Offensive, harrassing or baiting comments will not be tolerated and will be deleted at my discretion.
Comment spam will be deleted.
Please leave a name and either a valid web-site or e-mail address with comments. Comments left without either a valid web-site or e-mail address may be deleted. Atom Feed LiveJournal SyndicationLOLcats feed
Thursday, June 30, 2005
Yesterday Was Busy
I came to the horrible realization yesterday that I was buying all but two of the books published by DC this week, not counting the reprint of Omac Project #2. I'll leave you all to guess which ones I passed by.
I was also flipping through several titles and came across what is possibly the most pointless retcon ever in the pages of Green Lantern #2...the green parts of Hal's costume give off heat? The hell?
I also went into shameless commercial shill mode and made sure that most of the copies of Previews that we had out for sale had the Corpse Bride cover facing out.
Several people asked about the Nat Turner comic by Kyle Baker. It was supposed to be released this week, but I suspect this is another one of those situations where West Coast stores got the distribution shaft. I think the same thing happened to us with the second issue of Action Philosophers, which again, several people have been asking for and has yet to show its face. At least I know why the new Magnus, Robot Fighter book is late, it's been resolicited in the latest Previews.
Speaking of Nat...go get Licensable Bear #2 by Nat Gertler.
High Impact Comics and Diamond have managed to annoy me greatly. We usually put up the featured merchandise poster Diamond sends to comics retailers each month along with Previews, because it's a cheap way to draw people's attention to the higher priced items they may want to buy. This month's poster features the "woman spilling liquid and ice over her breasts" variant cover for Anime Crazy Manga. Because I already have a hard time convincing parents that not all manga are dirty sex comics...
There were, in fact, lots of interesting things in Previews outside of the Big Four listings. Treehouse of Horror #11 is solicited, featuring a story by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson, antother story by Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan, and a third illustrated by John Severin, Angelo Torres, Mark Schultz and Al Williamson. That's two comics by the creators of the best horror comics of the 70s and a collaboration of several EC artists.
It's also apparently spooky manga month, with Del Rey soliciting Ghost Hunt and Sugar Sugar Rune, as well as a new volume of Wallflower, Viz releasing Death Note and Monster and Tokyopop dropping the Keith Giffen written I Luv Halloween. Digital Manga Publishing also drops more yaoi than you can shake a stick at, with second volumes of Antique Bakery and Yellow, as well as Alone in My King's Harem.
There's also a novelization of Yellowbeard by Graham Chapman in the books section...and speaking of the books section, a few months ago, Heart of America by Warren Ellis was solicited, and I don't remember seeing much discussion of that. Or any at all, really. Am I the only one who looks at the books section?
F. Paul Wilson to adapt his novel The Keep for comics. This is interesting news, as I don't think a novelist has ever written a comics adaptation of thier own work before, but I'm not terribly excited about this particular project. You see, I've read the novel, and I didn't like it very much. It has a brilliant, high-concept story. I mean, how can you really go wrong with Nazis vs. vampires, right? But it dissolves into a tedious and cliche-filled battle between Absolute Good and Absolute Evil, and that's the kind of thing that annoys me in horror novels. Vague concepts just aren't that scary. Absolutes just aren't that scary. Give me something creepily plausible and ambiguous and I'll be with you.
I'm not terribly fond of the Spider-Man character, but I was willing to give the new Peter David and Mark Wieringo title a shot. With those creators, and with a title like Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man (which is an utterly brilliant title), I was expecting a lighter in tone look at Spider-Man, something which has been sorely lacking from the titles of late. It also looked like it might be a Spider-Man title that I could actually start selling to kids. But then they go and announce that the first three issues are part of a cross-over series, and what's more, David won't even be writing all three of those issues. So, there goes my interest in the title. And if it's crossing over with Spider-Man and Amazing Spider-Man, there goes my hopes that it'll be a book I can sell to kids without having hyper-sensitive parents getting annoyed at me.
Zombie Tales from Atomeka/Boom Studios: I don't make it any great secret that I'm not a fan of zombies. So I was prepared to be mildly amused, at best, by this book, and instead I found myself enjoying it quite a bit. What made the difference, I think, is that the writers and artists, by and large, chose not to focus on the "lone band of survivors facing the zombie horde" angle that's been done to death. Instead, the stories focus on more character driven stories from unique angles, that just happen to have a zombie-infested world as the back-drop.
The first story, "I, Zombie" by Andrew Cosby and Keith Giffen is a very funny look at the zombie apocalypse from the perspective of, well, one of the zombies. Cosby and Giffen manage in just a few short pages to make a flesh-eating monster both likeable and somewhat sympathetic. And it's the sort of story that I expect this guy to like a lot. Mike Nelson and Joe Abraham's "Severance" is a compelling revenge story which just incidentally happens to be about zombies. "For Pete's Sake" by Johanna Stokes and J.K. Woodward is a beautifully illustrated story of lost love and commitment that uses the zombie backdrop well. "If You're So Smart" by Mark Waid and Carlos Magno is probably the weakest story in the book. It's a cute gag, and the pay-off is funny in a demented way, but honestly it felt about two pages too long. Keith Giffen and Ron Lim finish off the book with "Dead Meat" another of the grimly funny stories, this time about a zombie soldier. Like "I, Zombie" it has an interesting, zombie-centric view-point, and also like that story it promises to build into something more in future installments.
The stand out story, however, is "Daddy Smells Different" by John Rogers and Andy Kuhn. It's the closest to a straight-up horror story in the book, and it's very effective and chilling. It harkens back most strongly to the classical, Rod Serling-style of ironic endings for horror stories. The entire package is available at comic stores tomorrow for $6.99.
Drive by Nate Southard and Shawn Richter, from Frequency Press: I like caper stories. I like stories about people, not necessarily on the right side of the law, who are clever and beat the odds. This is almost the exact opposite sort of story however. This is a story about a guy who isn't very clever, gets in over his head, and ends up losing just about everything as a result of his own hubris.
The set-up is right out of any number of crime stories. Brian Ray, a cabbie, picks up a pushy fare and almost immediately has people shooting at him. After facing death, Brian ends up with a gun and a duffel bag full of drugs. And this is where Southard pulls a neat trick. Brian and his friends start acting as if they were the heroes of some "underdog comes out on top" crime story, never realizing that very bad people are going to be coming to look for them. It's this contrast between the character's expectations and the reality of their situation that makes the story work. Brian is very easy to identify with. He wants to be the hero of a big, exciting story. But he just isn't quite aware of how the world really works to understand just how much trouble he's in.
The art by Shawn Richter is notable as well. Richter has a good grasp of storytelling, and his characters "act" well, but there's still a certain roughness to much of his work. The impression I come away with is that he's a developing talent with the potential to do truly excellent work, but isn't quite there yet. But apart from that, this was a good book. A little rough around the edges, perhaps, but it shows lots of promise and talent. Both Southard and Richter are creators I wouldn't be surprised to hear more from in the future. Drive is $11.95 and is available from Frequency Press.
Maximum Fantastic Four? So, you take a reprint of the first issue of a comic that was very much of it's era, and slap a buzzword from five years ago onto it to make it sound hip and contemporary? Y'know, it worked, sort of, for the ultimate line, but I don't think it's going to work for a $50 hard-cover.
I like how Wolverine #33 is listed in the solicitations before Wolverine #32, and in a separate section. I'm sure that won't cause any problems for retailers come time to order the books. (Publishers: list your releases by alphabetical order or by imprint...don't just scatter them around by some method that only makes sense to you.)
Ultimate Secret #3 finally gets a solicitation, with a new artist, Tom Raney. Long delays and artist changes do have a tendency to piss off readers, so I can only imagination that the combination of both will alienate a fair number of people.
Speaking of long delays, Ultimate Iron Man #4 is scheduled to ship in September. Anyone want to take bets on when it will actually ship?
I'm going to go out on a limb here and say something that will make most people think I've gone insane: Spider-Girl is the most enjoyable Marvel comic I've read in months. It's very nice sometimes to read a comic that isn't taking itself seriously and is just trying to be fun and entertaining. Covers like this certainly drive that point home.
Y'know, more power to Garth Ennis and all that. I understand that the Marvel work subsidizes stuff like 303, but Ghost Rider is one of those comic-book concepts that just may be past its sell-by date. The only people we ever get asking for it anymore are little kids, and something tells me I'm not really going to be able to sell this series to them anyway.
New Avengers #11 features the "debut [of] the mysterious New Avenger everyone has been talking about all year!!" I'm not quite sure "who the hell is that guy and why does he merit a variant cover all his own?" is quite the kind of buzz Marvel was hoping for on this Ronin character. I also like how they especially point out that it's not just Daredevil in a new costume. I think the decision may have gone something like this: "The fans will never guess that Ronin is actually Daredevil in a new costume?" "Uhm, actually, on-line fan speculation is that it is Daredevil in a new costume." "Well, crap. Tell Bendis that he better make it someone else. Like...Matt Murphy, a blind...accountant. That should work. No one ever realized that Jessica Jones, an ex-super-hero detective, was just a thinly rewritten Spider-Woman did they?"
Hey look, a book I might actually be able to sell: Franklin Richards: Son of a Genius. Probably not to kids, no, but I might be able to sell it to adults looking for a book for kids.
Ah, a new darkly grim version of Drax the Destroyer! That's exactly what the comics industry needs.
Thor: Blood Oath is set at some indeterminate point in Marvel's past. Because Marvel just isn't quite willing yet to either go ahead with a New Thor comic or to let the property die. I'd be just as happy with letting the book die. It's, again, a concept that is probably past its sell-by date, and the times that the book has been good are few and far between. It ended on a nice note, and that should be it. Of course, Marvel won't do that, because someone, somewhere, may want to make a movie based on Thor. I think I like Mike's idea for Thor the best. Have Neil Gaiman take one for the team. Nobody could do anything with Dr. Strange for a long-time because J. Michael Straczynski had that brilliant idea of re-imagining him for a new millennium and didn't want anyone else's use of the character to interfere with that. Neil Gaiman needs to do the same thing, tell Marvel that he doesn't want anyone else to do anything with Thor until he has time to re-write the character. Sure, that would more or less obligate him to write Thor at some point, but what's Marvel going to do, tell Neil Freaking Gaiman "no?"
The solicitation for Young Avengers #8 reads: "The secrets are OUT when Captain America and Jessica Jones confront the Young Avengers' parents about their children's double lives." See, I like how they made sure to emphasize the word "out," almost as if they wanted to tease readers with the potential of a deviate romantic relationship between two of the characters that they are never going to develop or act on in any way, shape or form because they know that Marvel readers think that gay people are icky. But boy oh boy, does Marvel love the free publicity that people arguing about it gives them.
"Dorian, you must clearly be in the wrong on all things, because you only ever talk about the bad customers you have."
Er, no, it's just that the good, reasonable, polite and sane customers don't make for very interesting stories. "You'll never believe this: a customer came in to the store with a well-organized list of back issues he was looking for, and was very understanding of the fact that we were busy and so let us take our time helping him. In between fetching boxes of back issues we had a pleasant conversation about Golden and Silver Age comics that we wouldn't mind seeing reprinted, because we both felt that DC's and Marvel's emphasis on only reprinting the popular material from those periods is allowing higher quality material to languish. For example, anything by Lou Fine is better than Golden Age Green Lantern, but good luck convincing DC of that."
So in the efforts of balance, here's my Worst Non-Comics Related Customer and my Worst Rude Clerk stories.
Worst Non-Comics Related Customer: I used to work in a shoe-store, right out of high school. There is quite probably no more soul-deadening retail posistion to have other than shoe store clerk (expect, possibly, liquor store clerk). At this particular store we had a price-matching policy. If another store had a current, advertised sale for the same kind of shoe we carried that was lower than our regular or sale price, we would match the price. Pretty simple stuff. Except for one fellow who came in with a flyer for another store. "I want this shoe" he told me. I looked at the circular. It was advertising a very fancy pair of sneakers for about $10. And I'm looking at the circular, and I realize that a) this isn't our store's circular, b) that's not a brand of shoe we carry and c) this particular circular is about five years old. And I politely tell the customer that, while we do match our competitor's prices, that's only on items we have in stock and for current advertised sales, not ones from five years ago. And in any case, we don't carry that brand of shoe, though I can show him several similar styles of shoe if he'd like. Which, of course, is when he starts screaming about how I'm trying to rip him off and that he's going to call the Better Business Bureau because we refuse to abide by our advertised sales prices. Literally screaming at the top of his lungs, making a scene in the entire store. Which is not a good sign for me, because this particular store had an over-broad "The Customer Is Always Right" policy which states that if the customer is unhappy, for any reason whatsoever, it is explicitly the fault of the clerk. By the store's definition, in other words, there was no such thing as an unreasonable customer request. So yeah, that was a fun day at work. I never did get that guy calmed down and he left, still screaming. In hindsight, I'm just glad he never threw anything at me. It wasn't until I started working in comics retail that I needed to develop an ability to anticipate when customers would throw things at you because you refuse to meet their unreasonable demands.
Worst Rude Clerk: I was in the LA area, shopping around, looking for bookstores while I was on break from school. Specifically, I was looking for bookstores with either new or used editions of "pulp" detective novels from the post-war period, or books of commentary and reviews of the same. All in purpose of my senior thesis, "Representations of Masculinity in the Pulp Detective Story." And so I had a pretty good nest-egg of several hundred dollars built up to use to buy material for this project, since I was having little to no luck finding these sorts of things through libraries. And I eventually wandered into a neighborhood in Santa Monica which had several used and new bookstores. My first stop was an upscale store which advertised that they carried lots of first editions. It had a monstrously ugly steel and glass facade, and when I went in they had fancy leather couches in their "reading" area, plush carpets, air conditioning, and classical music playing. The clerks were quite a bit older than me, very smartly dressed, and I felt immediately out of place in my schlubby poor college student outfit. Both clerks immediately gave me the evil eye, and when I asked them were they kept their older mystery novels I was given a vague "in that direction" wave by one of them. Looking around the store, I didn't find an actual mystery section, but I did notice that they had a special section set aside for leather-bound first editions which was organized by the color and size of the books. Which meant that this wasn't a book store for people who actually read books. After about ten minutes of trying to find something I could use, one of the clerks came up to me and said "We have a very exclusive clientele here. Perhaps you'd like to shop some place else?" So I left, and a block or two later, find a somewhat run-down, plaster-facaded bookstore which was over-flowing with books. They had techno music playing and the gal behind the counter had colored hair and piercings. I asked for the mystery section and she took me to it, asked me specifically what I was looking for, and when told went into the back room and got out more of the exact kinds of books I was looking for. She even gave me a good discount on everything I bought that day because it was for school. On my way back to my car I went back to that first store. There were still no customers in the store. I showed the clerk my receipt for several hundred dollars worth of books and asked him how much business he'd done since they threw me out. I didn't get an answer. Not that I really waited for one, to be honest.
So, remember all those co-feature titles that Marvel used to put out? Amazing Adventures starring Black Widow and the Inhumans. Strange Tales starring Nick Fury and Dr. Strange. Tales to Astonish featuring Giant Man and the Hulk. Astonishing Tales with Ka-Zar and Doctor Doom. And I'm sure more that I'm forgetting.
Wouldn't those books have been vastly improved if they were team-up books? Dammit, I want a comic in which Nick Fury and Dr. Strange team up to fight Dormammu! I want to see the Black Widow and Black Bolt as mysterious crime-fighters traveling the country righting wrongs!
(And please, no one suggest Marvel Team-Up. It's just not quite the same thing.)
Tsubasa Vol. 5 by CLAMP: At this point, if you're still reading the series, you probably like it enough to stick with it for the long haul. The essential plot remains the same: Syaoran, Fai and Kurogane travel to strange worlds in search of the feathers of Sakura's memories. There are occasional hints of a larger meta-plot, with an unknown figure watching their progress, but as usual for series of this kind, the glacial plotting of that meta-story keeps it confined to brief reminders.
Ranma 1/2 vol. 30 by Rumiko Takahashi: I'm uncertain now whether this or Oh My Goddess is the longest-running manga in English title. And so, at 30 volumes, it's doubtful that this series is new to anyone. But it still remains it's charms. The absurdist humor, coupled with the satire of boy's action titles, still manages to amuse me with each volume.
Baron: The Cat Returns by Aoi Hiiragi: This is a charming and well-illustrated all-ages story about a girl who saves a strange cat and as a "reward" for her kindness is carried away to the cat kingdom to be married off to the Cat Prince. This is a wonderful book, with gentle humor and genuine heart that is well worth checking out.
Tenryu: The Dragon Cycle Vol. 1 by Matoh Sanami: It's starting to look as if Sanami's Fake is the only work of interest to me. I'd passed on By the Sword and Until the Full Moon because they didn't look interesting, but I'm now scratching my head wondering what on Earth possessed me to give this title a shot. The character designs are attractive, but that's about all the book has going for it. The story is frankly dull, being yet another "quest for items of power" fantasy series, with nothing original in the set-up to differentiate for the countless other examples of the genre. Even the tonal shifts between drama and comedy were handled much better in series like Fushigi Yuugi, so it doesn't even have the benefit of an original or unique voice.
Tuxedo Gin Vol. 11 by Tokihiko Matsuura: A serious shift in the direction of the series occurs this volume as Gin finally gets his wish and becomes human again. It's only temporary, and the volume ends on a cliff-hanger (and yes, I know 12 is out by now, but I haven't had a chance to read it yet), but it's a compelling new twist on the comedy of errors that is Ginji's life as a penguin.
Kindaichi Case Files: Kindaichi the Killer Vols. 10 & 11 by Yozaburo Kanari and Fumiya Sato: In this two volume set, the tables are turned on Kindaichi and he finds himself the prime suspect in an impossible murder. There are some moments of genuine suspense in this story, as it seems quite likely that the killer may actually succeed in out-witting the boy-genius detective, but the rather formulaic conclusion is a slight flaw, as it is in most of the Kindaichi stories.
Musashi #9 Vol. 3 by Takahashi Miyuki: With this volume the series starts to fall into a more regular cast and setting, with Musashi continuing to impersonate a boy to protect a student who keeps becoming involved, even indirectly, in underworld activities. The resolution of the stories require a fair amount of suspension of disbelief, but there remains something exciting and engaging about these super-spy stories where Musashi can seemingly do anything she puts her mind to.
Fruits Basket Vol. 9 by Natsuki Takaya: (Yes, I know Vol. 10 was just released. I'm a little behind.) More slowly doled out revelations fill this volume. The back-story on creepy goth girl Hana is filled out, including how she came to be friends with Arisa and Tohru, enigmatic Rin continues to plot against Akito with Shigure, and most tellingly for the larger plot of the series, Arisa meets another Sohma, the beautiful and sensitive Kureno. At this point, you probably don't really need me to tell you that this is a great and emotive series that deserves the success it has achieved.
RG Veda Vol. 1 by CLAMP: This is a very rough, early work from CLAMP. Some of the themes and topics they would revisit in later works are on display here, but this first volume lacks the skill and refinement of their later series. In other words, whatever flaws this book has can be safely ascribed to the fact that this is the first professional work CLAMP did. It has rough edges, but you can see the promises of bigger and better things shine through.
Yotsuba&! Vol. 1 by Kiyohiko Azuma: I've already mentioned a couple of times that this is good, but it's worth mentioning it again. This is elegantly drawn and simple stories about an enthusiastic girl discovering the world around her. The humor is gentle and surprisingly heartfelt. This is a series that well deserves some attention from manga fans.
This is apropos of nothing, but it occurs to me that in the forth-coming Charlie and the Chocolate Factory film that Johnny Depp's Wily Wonka is based, in terms of appearance, voice and mannerisms, on Michael Jackson. Just putting that thought out there.
Also, is it wrong of me that I'm looking forward to the CAPalert analysis of the film more than the film itself?
There was surprisingly very little of note amongst this week's books, unless of course you're thoroughly invested into the Bendis-verse version of the Marvel U. I flipped through the second issue of House of M and was startled to discover that...nope, nothing actually happens in this issue either. Where the first issue was people standing around trying to decide what to do with the Scarlet Witch, this issue was brief snippets of the lives of the X-Men and Avengers in a world where (almost) none of them are actually super-heroes anymore. It's slightly more interesting than the first issue, but it still strikes me as a rather dull way to lead off your big summer cross-over. And those pastel-colored covers still don't impress me.
I've also noted that shipping two books with variant covers in the same week was probably a bad idea. Already the more casual buyer has shied away from the Marvel variants, leaving them to the speculators to purchase. And even they have limited budgets. As Marvel continues to roll out more and more variants, I expect to wind up with more expensive shelf-warmers.
And just to kick Marvel a little bit more, it's not a good sign that my first thought, upon looking at the $100 Fantastic Four Omnibus (with variant cover, naturally) was: "I wonder what kind of printing error this will have which will render it unsellable?"
The only comic I did make time to give a thorough reading to was Shojo Beat. This is one of those magazines that almost goes out of its way to drive home the point that I am not in the target audience. Ads and articles on cosmetics and fashion, interviews with athletes, instructions on how to bake a cake: none of this interests me in the slightest. The first installment of Ai Yazawa's Nana was somewhat frustrating, featuring yet another door-mat of a manga heroine. She's neurotic and boy-crazy and defines herself by her ability to find a man. Luckily, she's not the sole focus of the strip, or I'd write it off now. Absolute Boyfriend I have a strong pre-disposition towards anything Yuu Watase puts out. It's another fairly standard set-up with the neurotic heroine, but it also has a very strong mix of Watase's goofier sense of humor. The set-up also owes a lot to CLAMP's Chobits with the heroine coming into possession of a robotic boyfriend. Given Watase's track record I expect this series to be worthwhile.
I was also looking forward to Kaori Yuki's Godchild, being a fan of her Angel Sanctuary series. And while it's very pretty, the premiere story was a rather trite murder mystery without any actual mystery. And I would have sworn that there was supposed to be a prequel series released in book-form, mentioned in some of the original ad material for the Shojo Beat line, but there's nothing mentioned here. It's the sort of thing that might help to add a little context to the events here, as details about the main character are implied so as to suggest there the reader should already be familiar with the character. Taeko Watanbe's Kaze Hikaru did nothing for me at all. In fact, it was a chore to read, and quickly became very difficult to distinguish between the many nearly identical looking characters.
Marimo Ragawa's Baby and Me was mildly enjoyable, though it would probably benefit from a more consistent tone. It's a series that has potential, and the baby is certainly cute, but even I can experience angst over-load, and if it goes in that direction I'll rapidly lose interest. Surprisingly Mitsuba Takanashi's Crimson Hero was excellent. It has lovely art and an assertive, self-determined heroine. Rather than being a standard, and thus dull to me, sports manga, it sets itself up as a sort of "reverse-harem" manga, with the heroine forced to live in a house full of boys in order to reach her goal of playing volleyball for a prestigious school. I'm very impressed with this initial story and eager to see more of it.
I have no idea how to describe Grant Morrison's new posistion at DC. Plot-master? Concept designer? I like Morrison's take on super-heroes, so I'm behind this decision. I'm not terribly surprised to see that in certain quarters this news is not being taken well. One of the things that frankly baffles me about the folks who dread Morrison working on a beloved title or character is the insistence that, somehow, Morrison "hates" or "disrespects" super-heroes. Because to me all that complaint says is that the person making it hasn't understood any Grant Morrison comics they've read. He clearly loves super-hero comics, and that loves pours off the page. Almost every super-hero comic he's ever done has been a love letter to the comics he read as a kid.
There's one other thing I'd like to mention about the folks who loudly moan about Grant Morrison working on a title. X-Men fans have a tendency to like their comics safe and comfortable. The news of Grant Morrison taking over X-Men made many of them angry, and I got treated to many a diatribe about how these people were going to drop the New X-Men title, rather than have a book written by Grant Morrison in their collection. The vast majority of them, of course, bought the book anyway, but continued to whine and mope about how Morrison was "ruining" the title. A few stuck to their guns and actually didn't buy it. Except now, of course, all those folks who refused to buy it when Morrison was writing the book have been busy buying up the back issues of his run. Because there's a gap in their collections. So, yeah, I don't take complaints about Morrison's new role at DC too seriously. Because the actual buying habits of your average comic fan won't be affected by this at all, no matter what they may tell you otherwise.
I also think it's interesting to note that Morrison's new role, when taken in light of Geoff Johns' role as a kind of continuity editor, heavily implies that the editorial department at DC is taking this notion of creating a tighter continuity and revising their publications very seriously.
I wish I could get excited about the Superman/Shazam mini, but I really can't work up any enthusiasm for Josh Middleton's art.
I think I can safely pass on an Absolute Edition of Crisis On Infinite Earths. $100 is just too steep a price point for me, especially when all I'd really be interested in is the supplemental book. As nice as having properly printed "Monitor Tapes" would be, this series honestly hasn't aged well, and I'm perfectly happy with my single issues.
A Kammandi Archive? Seriously? Y'know, I'm not particularly a fan of Kirby's work, but I can understand his appeal. And there's a certain loopy quality to this series that makes it note-worthy, but I just don't see how this qualifies for an Archive format when there are so many other Golden and Silver age comics that DC has the publishing rights to that haven't been reprinted at all. Where's my Wildcat Archive? Where's the Sugar and Spike Archive that every single comics blogger on the planet seems to want?
I really hope that this new, and somewhat unexpected, digest format works for DC. Sgt. Rock is an excellent choice, as I think this format would work well for DC's library of war, fantasy, western and horror/mystery titles. The choice of Swamp Thing as the launch co-title seems odd at first, but this is a character that's recognized outside of comics fandom, and is a fairly good representation of DC's horror output, so I'd wager that was the thought process that went into the selection. That this is material that's already proven profitable for DC in trade format probably just cinched the deal. And at $10 a pop, these shouldn't be budget busters for anyone.
And then there's the new Showcase Presents format from DC. Big, phone-book sized black and white reprints at a low price. This is another good idea in the long run, but I'm somewhat disappointed in their choices of launch titles. It's been my experience that super-hero comics generally don't look good in black and white. And while Green Lantern is currently popular, I'm not sure how much of that popularity is genuine or just curiosity about the property now that Hal is back. Superman is probably a safe bet, especially the Silver Age material that everyone remembers and enjoys, for whatever reason. Me, I'm more excited about the rumored Jonah Hex reprint in this format.
I may very well end up picking up the Bruce Jones written Vigilante book. I've enjoyed Ben Oliver's work in the past, and Jones is generally good, though I run hot and cold on enjoying his work.
Chikyu Masaki has an intriguing premise: girl moves next door to a shape-changing monster. And the pitch has the feel of a light shojo title about it, which I generally like. But Pieces of a Spiral turns me off right away...reincarnation, demons and lost mentors. Nope, doesn't sound like my sort of thing.
A new Kev mini-series premieres, with two issues in one month. More of Kev is almost always a good thing.
DC puts out a Who's Who style series for the ABC universe, and opens it with two of the ABC characters I like the least, Tom Strong and Jack B. Quick. Damn. The completist in me will still want this though.
Wraithborn sounds like something I'd expect to see in the Top Cow section of the Image listings. Which, I suppose, means that it's Wildstorm going "back to its roots" or somesuch.
I've no doubt that The Quitter will be very good, but I have almost no desire at all to read it. Something about Pekar just rubs me the wrong way in all his work. So I shall pass on the Dean Haspiel goodness.
Dark Horse Lady Snowblood is the only new title this month, and I'm going with cautious optimism on this one. I don't think it has the draw of Lone Wolf and Cub and sales on Samurai Executioner have been in decline, but it's a known property with a following.
DC I looked at the CMX preview booklet that DC sent us and Testarotho looks simply awful. Bland art and cliche-ridden story. Young Magician, on the other hand, while it also lacks a compelling or original story, is very, very pretty, and our customers like the pretty manga.
I'm also not entirely sure that I want the Absolute Edition of Watchmen, nor am I sure that I can really afford it, but I'm ordering myself a copy anyway because I don't want to decide that I really want it after all only to discover that it's gone out of print, leaving me to pay dealer prices for it. I think I can skip out on V for Vendetta in hard-cover. If I really want eight pages of David Lloyd sketches, I'll buy the sure to come soft-cover edition.
I'm ordering one of those Red Hood/Joker action figures for myself. I know, I'm sad. I thought about getting the Batman too, but I hate the sculpt on the cowl. The Clark Kent figure is pretty cool too.
ADV Yotsuba&! turned out to be really good and a strong seller, so we'll bump up orders a little. I'm slightly disappointed by sales on Cromartie High School. This is pure, brilliant weirdness and I vaguely resent our customers for not recognizing that.
AiT/Planet Lar It's probably a good thing Larry Young lives up in the bay area and I have no idea where Joe Casey lives, because they'd both be getting big wet sloppy man-kisses for publishing Full Moon Fever. Werewolves on the moon. It's like they're publishing comics purely for my benefit now.
Dynamite Dear Dynamite Entertainment; I haven't been paying close enough attention to your release schedules to be certain, but it feels as if none of your books ever come out on time. In any case, that certainly seems to be the impression my customers have, who are growing increasingly frustrated with long gaps between issues of Army of Darkness and Red Sonja. Please, in the future, spend less time devising new and more variant covers to bribe retailers into upping order with, and more time on getting your monthly comics out on a monthly basis.
Good on you for releasing Borderline, though. Smart way to diversify your offerings.
Del Rey Neither Gacha Gacha nor Love Roma look particularly appealing to me, but Gacha Gacha at least is of a genre that tends to sell well for us.
Digital Manga Publishing Twilight of the Dark Master sounds like it could be bad fun, with its mix of sex and violence. DMP books tend to be hit or miss with our customers, the non-yaoi titles more miss than hit, so we'll go slightly conservative with orders on this one.
Dr Masters Iron Wok Jan is still a strong seller for us. The rest of the titles we can consistently expect to sell a copy of, so that's what we're cutting orders down to.
HK Comics I would swear that we already received the revised version of vol. 2 of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon already, but I'm not at work today, so I have to wait to check. Third Testament doesn't look at all like an attempt to cash in on The DaVinci Code, oh no.
Infinity Studios I'm fairly certain we haven't received any of the first volumes of the series solicited this month yet, so it's hard to make an accurate judgment. I don't know yet which our customers will like and which they won't, and all I have to go by are some on-line samples and an understanding of the genres and styles that do sell well for us and those that don't. These mostly seem fairly standard and uninspiring works, so very conservative orders are probably called for.
Poison Press The final Cavalcade of Boys collection is solicited. It's a very soapy gay romance comic which should appeal to yaoi fans. And yes, given it's size and subject matter, I do plan to shelve it with the manga once I cycle the first volume out of our "featured titles" area.
Seven Seas Entertainment With the exception of Amazing Agent Luna, our customers have not gone for these, so I'm cutting orders down to the "very conservative" level.
Tokyopop Ai. Have I mentioned how much I hate that Tokyopop doesn't organize their section alphabetically. At least Viz organizes their section by imprint, but Tokyopop's is annoyingly difficult to navigate, especially when it comes time to checking past months orders. War On Flesh doesn't sound particularly appealing to me, but it's got zombies in it, and for some reason comic readers can't get enough of zombies. Girl's Bravo is about a shlubby guy who winds up the only male on a planet full of women. It's a genre of manga that I absolutely loathe, but it sells amazingly well. Both Kamichama Karin and Kanpai are being sold on the strengths of the creator's past works, in this case Pita-Ten and Gravitation respectively, and neither of those series really caught on with our customers, so we'll go very conservative with our orders here. Off Beat looks to be an OEL shonen ai series, and we've had luck with yaoi titles in the past so this should do well. After a certain point all these various Gundam series blend together. I'm getting a vague shojo vibe off this latest spin-off, Ecole du Ciel, which means that this probably won't do well for us, as our only customers for Gundam books are pre-teen boys.
Viz Still no Godchild? Or are they planning to solicit it at the same time as Monster and Death Note? Get some publicity all at once for their darker titles, sort of thing. It sure would be nice if I knew anything about Meru Puri other than that it's about a girl who tries not to be tardy to school... It will be interesting to see how Jojo's Bizarre Adventure does. It's one of those manga titles that everyone's been hearing about for years, but that doesn't always translate into real sales. We've gone with cautious optimism on the orders for this one. The same is true of orders on Zatch Bell. If it matches sales on Yu Gi Oh or Dragonball Z I'll be happy, but I had high hopes for Fullmetal Alchemist as well, and so far our customers haven't shown much interest in that series, which is odd, given the number of customers I see wearing FMA t-shirts.
I've got to do the manga order numbers (and I may as well post about them when I do). I want to say a few things about the DC solicitations. I've got a small stack of manga titles I really want to review. I've got three weeks worth of comics to read. I've got nearly two months worth of comics that I want to try to say something about (do not expect reviews of each of them...you may just get generalized responses to certain groups of titles). There's actual comic news I want to say a couple of things about (yes, it may involve that Grant Morrison annoucement).
And that's not even counting the small mountain of real-life projects and problems I need to deal with right now.
But that's the nice thing about having a blog. You can vent a bit.
Here, behold yakuza kitten. Yakuza kitten makes everything better:
Okay, I can deal with the sperm whales attacking the submarine. And I can sort of buy some mega-mouth shark looking thing attacking from behind. But what gets me here is the freaking huge dolphin! Holy crap is that thing big!
If I don't talk about super-hero movies they revoke my blog license: I saw Batman Begins and I quite liked it. I thought the script was good and that most of the performances, particularly those of Bale, Caine and Oldman were excellent. I don't think the second half of the film holds together as well as the first, and the performances of Katie Holmes and Cillian Murphy never really clicked for me. I've seen lots of complaints about how the fight scenes were shot, but I honestly didn't have a problem with that at all. I think perhaps audiences have been spoiled by the beautiful fight photography and choreography in martial arts movies and now expect all fight scenes to conform to that style of editing and filming. For me, if every action sequence was filmed in slow-motion longshots with actors on wires, it would be boring. The fight scenes here were nasty and brutish, and the editing and filming of the scenes reflected that.
I also saw Howl's Moving Castle, which was also very good, but a little disappointing in relation to other Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli films. It's not quite as interesting or entertaining, and probably on a par with the film version of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind in terms of quality. My only specific complaint is the Billy Crystal was as nasal and whiny as the fire demon Calcifer as I feared he'd be.
It's starting to look as if Last Hero Standing is out-selling House of M in our neck of the woods. It may very well turn out to have been a bad idea to cut orders as drastically as we did on the fourth and fifth issues.
I won't know for certain until I have a chance to look at our inventory cycle-sheets, but if so, I'm really curious as to why our customers are embracing a Contest of Champions via Spider-Girl mini over the big mega summer cross-over event orchestrated by Brian Michael Bendis. Or did I just answer my own question?
Dear Parents of twelve year old boys;
Twelve year old boys are not good baby-sitters. It's probably not in the best interests of either child to have your twelve year old son pushing his two year old sister around town in a baby carriage without adult supervision. Especially when he keeps trying to leave her outside the store by herself so that he can buy Star Wars comics.
(Dear readers, fret not, I gave the kid holy hell for even thinking about leaving her outside and made him bring her in. I'm kind of hoping his parents call to complain about me telling off their precious angel so that I can tell them what he was trying to do.)
It was observed recently at work that the art of Bart Sears is what you would get if you tried to draw something a teenage boy would think looked cool. In other words, it's what you would get if Rob Liefeld was trying to draw the way he does on purpose, instead of actually thinking he's doing a good, professional looking job.
This observation was prompted by the fact that we have a small section of art technique books in stock and the only ones that ever seem to cycle through are Best of How To Draw the Wizard Way and Making Your Comics Superficially Resemble Manga, but Anatomy for Beginners, How to Draw the Human Head and Perspective For Artists act as shelf-warmers.
I was asked which Batman trades are good "dark" stories. Setting aside that it's frigging Batman and almost everything featuring the character is going to be "dark," I mentioned Batman Year One, The Killing Joke, Broken City, Gothic, The Dark Knight Returns and The Long Halloween as good "dark" Batman stories and As The Crow Flies and Strange Apparitions as good super-heroey Batman stories. I didn't mention Hush, and tried to block it from my mind to be honest, and luckily the customer didn't mention it either.
But he bought a Powers trade after all that, so who knows what he really wanted.
Dear Customer Who Was Too Hip For The Room;
You're buying Superman: Godfall, Street Fighter and DarkStalkers.
You don't get to make fun of old Jimmy Olsen comics for being "stupid."
One of the little hypocrisies of our society that I notice quite often, because the store is across the street from a high school, is that although we as a culture have decided that sexualizing and exploiting children is wrong, nevertheless every weekend there are girl's standing at the corner of the high school in bikinis trying to get me to let them wash my car. And it's hypocritical because it's not only our culture once again saying one thing and then doing another, but it's a double standard, because you never see teenage boys in Speedos standing at that corner.
I can't make the double-standard complaint anymore. This weekend there were teenage boys, in Speedos, trying to get me to let them wash my car. So, I guess that's progress, of a sort.
Every day this week customers have waltzed into the store at the last possible second and lingered well past closing time. That's really rather annoying.
I've mentioned before that one of the reasons I don't think kids are really drawn to super-hero comics any more is that they aren't nostalgic for the things that were popular in the youth of their parents or grandparents. And that the only people who are really concerned about this are the ones who for some reason think that kids should be interested in the same things mommy or daddy liked when they were kids.
This week-end I witnessed a man essentially bully his daughter into buying a G.I. Joe comic. "Hey it's G.I. Joe! Daddy used to like G.I. Joe! You like G.I. Joe too, right? Come on, buy G.I. Joe. You know you like it. Come on, buy it. Look, you like G.I. Joe and you're going to buy it, all right."
Another observation made at work this week is that it was really a good idea on DC's part to let Grant Morrison do his Seven Soldiers project. Let's look at it this way, in exchange for letting Morrison do whatever he wants on seven properties no one at DC was really using anyway, DC now has seven new properties to shop around for exploitation in other media that they own outright. Mike and I can already see the high-concept pitches for two of these properties. Like, say, a Guardian movie: disgraced ex-cop finds redemption by becoming a super-hero. Or a Klarion the Witch Boy tv series: strange boy with magical abilities defeats mystical menaces as he travels the country, leaving those behind confused as to whether he's a good guy or a bad guy. Heck, I'd watch both of those.
Mike, while putting together a display of super-hero comics for a local library, when I challenge his choice of an Orion comic featuring Darkseid for inclusion: "Come on, all the kids know who Darkseid is!"
Geoff Johns becomes, essentially, a continuity editor for DC. I'm sure the usual suspects will waste no time complaining about how this is a bad thing, but in general I'm failing to see a strong down side to this. If you're going to publish super-hero comics and want to maintain the illusion of a shared, cohesive universe in those comics, you really do need to have a person running, essentially, traffic control with your characters. And Johns, regardless of anyone's opinion of his talents as a writer, has proven to be a money-maker for DC. And one of his strengths as a writer has proven to be exploiting and building on past stories about the characters he writes.
Now, granted, the actual impetus for this seems to be the realization that the end result of Infinite Crisis is shaping up to be Just Imagine Geoff Johns Creating the DC Universe, so that may be cause for slight concern.
Would it be possible for a moratorium to be declared on complaints about the "darkening" of super-hero comics? The arguments I've been seeing have now come full circle and the new "dark" comics being published because comic companies have abandoned the children's audience. Well, I'm not quite sure that it was comics that abandoned kids so much as it was kids that abandoned super-hero comics. We still get plenty of kids coming into the store, and the only super-hero comics they show the slightest interest in are Spider-Man, Teen Titans and JLA. In other words, a perennial children's character and two properties with other media tie-ins. What the kids who come into the store mostly want is manga, Archie comics, and maybe some of the better all-ages independent comics. Oh, and for some reason, Asterix and Tintin lately. But the point is kids, by and large, don't want super-hero comics, and why should they? I wasn't interested in the same media properties that my parents or grand-parents were interested in when they were kids, why should today's kids be any different? I think a lot of this concern over super-hero comics being made appropriate for children so that kids will read them again is misplaced anxiety on the parts of aging comics fans who feel that kids should want to read super-hero comics.
Hitting comic shops tomorrow is the prelude issue to Larry Young's and Jon Proctor's full-color mini The Black Diamond. I got the chance to look at an advance copy and I like what I see. The story has a good mix of action and Larry's distinctive sense of humor, filtered through his slightly off-kilter world view. It's a very brief tease for the upcoming series, concentrating more on setting the tone, with the details fleshed out with text pieces and the actual story commencing in the forthcoming first issue.
Jon Proctor has a visually unique and expressive art style that is not going to be to everyone's tastes. It's got a rough-hewn look to it that puts me in mind of wood-cuts and the German Expressionist art style. His colors are very interesting as well. It's a subdued palette that adds to that nearly Expressionist style I mentioned above.
AIT is also doing an over-ship on this preview comic, so all good comic shops should have plenty of copies to go around. And as an added bonus, on the flip side of the book is a preview for the forthcoming Smoke and Guns by Kirsten Baldock and Fabio Moon, which I had a teaser image up for a short while ago, as well as a page from Matt Fraction's and Steven Sander's Five Fists of Science, starring Mark Twain and Nikola Tesla. So for $2.95 you get the start of a promising new serial, but two looks at good-looking new graphic novels as well. That's a good deal.
James Powell of Bookshelf comics has a new feature where he asks five people from across the comics spectrum to weigh in on subjects important to the field. It's called "Party of Five", and I was honored to be asked to participate in the inaugural column. Go check it out, I think my response is the shortest.
(With the summer movie season coming up, my kid brother Andy insisted on sharing with the world his thoughts on upcoming summer blockbusters. In order to keep peace in the family I've once again relented. I did make him take a class in html coding so that he'd at least learn some basic tags, but it conflicted with his Enterprise schedule so he dropped out of the class half-way through. I've also made him promise not to, under any circumstances, change my logo or layout again.)
My plans for the sumer by Andy Wright Ilove going to the movies in the summer thats the time that ll the sutdios put out all they're good films If your a big film fan like me thats the best time to go cause all the other people are theyr'e to enjoy the films along with you Its really cool
War of the Worlds should be really good its probably going to be like the bestest film of all summer You know why cause Steven Speilstein is liek the greatest director of all time even better than George Lucas His movies just have such a real emotional core and lots of action and thats what i like in fim.s Like Tom Cruise trying to save his daughter from martions that reminds me of the time I had to save my gameboy frm some bullies back in middle school And he is such a good actor to Ihope he treats Katie Homes nice She's a good girl and she deserves to gbe taken care of. Dori just laughs whenver I mention what a nice couple they make I don't knwo why hes weird sometimes
Jessica Alba is so freaking hot in Fantastic Four I don't know what to tell you This movie looks so good Michael Chiklis is so good as Ben Grimm and that guy from Charmed is the bad guy sho you know they went all out on the casting to get a guy like him in the movie. Plus it is a movie based on a Marvel Comic and its just not possible to make a bad movie based on a marvel comic because the material is so good to begin with it transends all genres
I'll probably go so DaVinci Code because Ron Howard and Tom Hanks are really cool and my girlfriend Alis (that's how she spells it, we met at the Hot Topic she works at. She's really sweet and you barely notice the lazy eye) thinks I should broaden my horizons a little and so I've been going to a lot more documentaries like this and Amityville Horror
I like comic books movies but I don't think i'll go see History of Violence because it doesn't look like a Marvel comic so it probably wont be any good The last movie I saw based on an indy comic was Constantin and it was okay but i didn't understand it It was like they were trying to remake A Daimon Hellstorm comic but why didn't they just make a Son of Satan movie then.
the movie i'm most looking forward to is Stealth this is probably going to be the best movie of the year and probably make the most money all summer I wouldn't be surprise if it sets some kins of box office record It such a cool concept Robot planes turning evil it s original and plausible which is the best aspecs of good science fiction is stuff that could actually happena nd planes are so advanced right now i bet it could happen Dor just looks at me funny when I start talking about his movie though I think he said I shold go talk to Mike becaus e Mike rally wants to see it too, which is good because Mike generally doenst like any good movies so that he wants to see this one is a sign that his taste is improving
I'm going to take the day off work to go see Land of the Dead because its Zombies and it the last part of the Night of Living Dead series and so thisis like the Revenge of the Sith for horror movies and we finally get to find out what hapened to make all the zomibies come to life. plus its zombies and zombies are always good and will always be goodand there no way that peopel are ever going to be tired of seeing movies about zombies
There are only two movies comig out that relly look like they suck one of them is Batman Begins I don't know why they want to make another movie about Batman the last one was so bad it just reminds you how lousy the character is and how much of a rip off of Blue Bettle he really is. Plus they got some skinny british gyy to play him and thats weird becasue Barman is supposed to be American, or did they make him British after the Identity Crisis or something (i didn't read it because i don't like DC books they aren't as good as Marvel) and i saw the trailer and Gotham doesn't look cool like it looke din the other movies it just looks liek a regular city and they changed all the actors again and now Harvey Dent is back but Morgan Freeman is playing him and the guys playing Batman has a funny voice I also think the new batmobile looks really lame it looks like a tank which is just dumb. Dori looked at me funny when i first said that and asked me 'what would you prefer an el camino with a giant bat head or the phallus with wheels from the other films" and I said no, the el camino would be cool, but not a phallus, because an SUV batmobile would look just as dumb as this tank one.
At least once a day now I'm getting someone antsy with me because they've had a problem registering for Comic-Con. The conversation usually goes along these lines: "Anything else you need help with?" Yeah, I tried to e-mail Comic-Con about registering for one day of admittance but they haven't gotten back to me. "Uhm, well, gee, that's too bad." So, what should I do? "I have no idea what you should do in that situation except trying to contact them again." What? But you work in a comic-book store! Therefore, you are privy to the inner workings of all things even remotely comic book related. (Okay, they don't actually say that last part, but that's the attitude. It's remarkably similar to the attitude I get from customers regarding comic book movies: "So who's going to play Iron Man in the movie they're making?" I didn't even know they were making an Iron Man movie. "What? Doesn't Marvel personally send you e-mails updating you on every step of the film-making process?")
Helping people find tattoo designs is fun! No, wait, it's not. And I haven't had to deal with it for awhile. I've lately mostly had to deal with helping people find pictures of "really cool demons and devils" because a local car-club has apparently decided that all their members need to decorate their cars with images of satanic debauchery. But I did get a stealth tattoo request the other day. The fellow came in looking for "books on Celtic myth." I asked him if he was looking for books about Celtic myths or comics based on Celtic myth. He wasn't sure. So I took out Charles Vess' Books of Ballads and Sagas which outside of Asterix is the closest thing we have to a comic based on Celtic myth. And no, that wasn't what he was looking for. So then he wandered over to the game section, and lo, he did find some books with vaguely Celtic looking, easy to replicate line-work. I swear, the next time someone comes in looking for tattoo designs, I'm just going to recommend they Go to the bookstore for some of these.
My favorite conversation of the week-end had to be this though. "Do you have any 3-D comic books?" We sure do. "Do you have any that don't have any sex in them?" ...Of course we do! "Well I don't know. I've never been there. Do you have any 3-D versions of The Iliad or The Odyssey?"
It wasn't so much her defensiveness about me failing to take seriously her insulting presumption that all comics=porn. It was that she got huffy when told that the highly specific and unlikely to exist item wasn't something we had in stock. Were I a jerk I would have sold her Age of Bronze. That would have been entertaining for her to take home: "Mommy, mommy! Achilles and Patroklus are hugging!"
And not really a customer story, but something that occurred to me while putting away some twenty year old comics: Remember when Madballs were offensive? Remember when taking Garbage Pail Kids to school would get you sent home, or wearing a Bart Simpson t-shirt would get you suspended? Where's the outrageous, but ultimately innocuous, stuff for kids today? South Park has to push the boundaries further and further each season to maintain their "inappropriate for children" credibility, and Wonder Showzen is so busy trying to find new ways to be offensive that they've forgotten to be funny. And both those shows go out of their way to try to convince people that they don't want kids watching. So, what does that leave kids with? Family Guy? Yu-Gi-Oh? That's just sad.
The egos shine like lightbulbs, so bright you cannot see them, Blind each other blinder than a sandbox. All the fury of an argument, holding back their yawns, A challenge shakes the chandeliers, the selfish swords are drawn. To the loser go the hangups, to the victor go the hangers on. And my shoulders had to shrug, as I crawled beneath the rug and retuned my piano. Phil Ochs, The Party
Right now you are down and out and feeling really crappy And when I see how sad you are It sort of makes me...Happy! Sorry, Nicky, human nature-Nothing I can do! It's...Schadenfreude! Making me feel glad that I'm not you. "Avenue Q", Shadenfruede
I am woman, hear me roar In numbers too big to ignore And I know too much to go back an' pretend 'cause I've heard it all before And I've been down there on the floor No one's ever gonna keep me down again Oh yes I am wise But it's wisdom born of pain Yes, I've paid the price But look how much I gained If I have to, I can do anything I am strong I am invincible I am woman Helen Reddy, I Am Woman (okay, that may be a bit "You Go, Girl!" but there are surprisingly few songs with the message "Go to hell you sexist ass!")
Guest Editorial from Sniper Kitten Comic fans are very aggravating to deal with at times, even on an abstract intellectual level. You would think that, given their status as the one group in society that even the nerds and geeks look down on, they would be slightly more self-aware about the self-defeating attitudes and behaviors they so often have. Rather than actually enjoy the broad output of the various comic companies, they would rather engage in pointless and inconsequential, but nonetheless heated and vicious, debates about which is "better"; Marvel or DC, mainstream or indy, western comics or manga. When you bring the matter of debate into actual personalities, especially on such vital and pressing matters of the day such as "which method of digital distribution is best," arguments get even more personal.
And woe unto you if you ever dare utter anything even remotely critical of their behavior. For shame if you have the boldness to say something as even innocuously self-evident as "female characters are often treated in a demeaning, pandering or objectionable way." It'll be circle-the-wagons time for comic fans and the shrillness of their hysterical behavior will increase a thousand-fold.
It's a good thing I'm just a cute and fluffy widdle kitten with a rifle, capable of striking swiftly, unseen from above, cause there are times I think the gene pool could use some more chlorine...
(some links via Jog the Blog and Fanboy Rampage. The views of Sniper Kitten are his own and not Dorian's. Dorian would never go so far as to suggest that there's anything even remotely funny about kittens shooting people for being obnoxious. Besides, the bullets in that gun would be so tiny they'd just sting a lot.)
Topic of conversation du jour yesterday: Is the third film always the one that kills the super-hero franchise? Superman III was not a very good movie, and it set the tone for the disastrous Superman IV. Batman Forever was a terribly poor choice of change in tone, and set the stage for the truly wretched Batman and Robin (not that I was ever that pleased with Burton's Batman films, either, but that's neither here nor there). All the news and rumors coming out about X-Men 3 have all the optimistic air of a train-wreck about them (Brett Ratner? Really?). And Spider-Man 3 is apparently casting people without a script. That's never really a good sign.
On the other hand, Batman Begins is starting the franchise over from scratch and it looks promising and has been getting fairly good reviews so far. Superman Returns, in contrast, is apparently a continuation of the previous four films...and to say that reaction to news coming out of that production has been mixed would be to understate severely.
So, I open up the question: Do super-hero franchise films need to stop at two?
Speaking of Batman Begins, we got little Hot Wheels cars of all the vehicles from the film. They're kind of neat, and cheap enough to be tempting, but they all come with this nightmarishly painted mini-figure of Batman. He's holding big metal claws or guns in each hand and his eyes take up approximately 60% of his face.
We also got some Predator mini-figures in. About half of them were some kind of clear plastic "variant" and we also got a "rare" Predator Trophies figurine. This is one of the very rare toys that I honestly think probably would have sold better in blind-box packaging. I'm foreseeing the "variants" and the short-packed figures going quickly, and me winding up with a half-dozen "Wounded Howling Predator" figures to try to find shelf or storage space for.
Last week we (finally) received our Army of Darkness trading cards. The person in charge of the cards went through a couple of boxes to try and put some sets together (we do better selling sets than individual packs of cards) and discovered that one of the cards simply did not exist. We contacted Diamond and were told that there was some kind of collation error, and that we'd be receiving some of the missing cards separately. We were supposed to receive them this week, and we were invoiced for them, but they were no shows. And since Diamond considered them a promotional item we can't reorder or back-order them, now that they're no longer in stock. So now we're stuck with a bunch of unsellable cards.
We got possibly the most specialty publication I've ever come across in stock this week: Green Mountain Cinema, a journal dedicated to films and film-makers from Vermont.
It was a light week for manga. The best of the few books we did get in was Yotsuba&!, a cute story about a curious and hyper-active girl. It's a good all-ages manga too, something I've been trying to build up our stock on, with no crude jokes and plenty of gentle humor.
It was also a big gay comics week, with the soft-cover edition of the second volume of Age of Bronze, Eric Shanower's epic retelling of the Trojan War, and Tim Fish's romance comic Cavalcade of Boys coming in. They're both very good as well.
Have I mentioned how much I've been enjoying the new Doctor Who series? I was planning on waiting until the end of the run before I tried to talk about it at length, but there are a couple of things I wanted to say, and frankly I'm tired of waiting.
First of all, companions. Billie Piper's Rose Tyler has been an excellent companion, more in the tradition of the competent companions like Sarah, Leelah or Ace than the dreaded Peri. She does occasionally need to be rescued as a result of her own actions, most notably from a balloon over London during the Blitz, but she more than gets back her own. She can save the day herself when need be, and she certainly shows far more initiative than most of the other companions the Doctor has had over the years. I'm also really enjoying the newest companion, John Barrowman's tri-sexual (men, women and aliens) Captain Jack Harkness. Some people out there are probably upset that the first companion to overtly flirt with the Doctor is male, but I love it.
And Christopher Eccleston's Doctor has rapidly become one of my favorites. He's insufferable and childish and temperamental, but compassionate and kind as well. He captures the contradictory personality traits that bring home just how alien the Doctor really is. It was quite shocking, as a long-time fan of the show, to see the Doctor's venom and hatred for the Daleks portrayed so emphatically in the episode "Dalek," in which the Doctor comes face to face with what he believes to be the last surviving Dalek. One of the most chilling, and frighteningly accurate lines of the series was spoken to the Doctor in that episode: "You would make a good Dalek."
The writing on the series has been excellent as well. So far only one script has really not worked for me, "The Long Game." Trying to wring some sinister effects out of media manipulation and giant bugs...just didn't work for me. But the two parter set during World War II, "The Empty Child" and "The Doctor Dances," was a fantastically well-written and genuinely creepy horror story, which even managed to inject a nice bit of subtextual commentary on sexual attitudes into the story. And the writers, in deference to the changing nature of television writing, have managed to insert a nice through-line for the series, contrasting the Doctor's isolation and essential loneliness with stories that keep coming back around to (in a vaguely Republican way) the importance and value of families. This season did something I don't recall any episode of Doctor Who ever doing; dealing with the consequences of the fact that the Doctor basically abducts people. In "Aliens of London" the Doctor means to take Rose home twelve hours after they left, but makes it twelve months instead, to discover that Rose's mother has been going insane with worry and that her ex-boyfriend, Mickey, has been under suspicion for her disappearance. It's a concept that's both amusing and a bit shocking, and further emphasizes the Doctor's alien nature; it simply never occurs to him that his companions leave people who care about them behind.
"In-story" sites: Who is Doctor Who: learn all about the alien menace in our midst Geocomtex, reverse-engineering illegal alien technology for a better future. The U.N.I.T. Homepage (hint for the secure log-in: it's been following the Doctor around all season...) Bad Wolf: who, or what, is the Bad Wolf.
There, now that I've gotten that out of my system, and while I'm still in a cryptic mood, and since I'm going to be mailing off my latest batch of Mix CDs for the most recent Mixed Bad Exchange, and since my track-listing is deliberately misleading (see, cryptic), here's some hints about what's on the disc.
"It's no pleasure" The most heterosexual song ever Remixed cartoon theme song Why tv actors shouldn't sing, part 1 Girl garage band singing a cover song An object lesson in double-checking your track listings before printing them out...I have MP3s from two artists last name: Moore, first initial: A. I decided against putting the track from the comic writer on this disc because I figured too many people would have heard it. But I was still thinking of that track when I wrote up the track listing to print out. So, it's the right song title, but the wrong artist...hence, many of you get a hand-written correction on your discs. "Time is running out" A cover of a song I put on my last disc Another heavily re-written cover by a long-lived novelty act Why tv actors shouldn't sing, part 2 "Buzz's bitch, that's what I want to be" Freudian symbolism as seduction technique A song that will make those of you who liked Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol happy "the king of the Potato People won't let me" A song by one of the performers on Mike's latest disc, because we are both evil The song that dares you to listen to it "Dykes on the other hand are evil" A song that sounds dirty, but isn't Why tv actors shouldn't sing, part 3 The song that would have made the remake of this movie 1000% better than it was "Are you ready for your Mystery Date" A song about a cowboy A song that sounds dirty, and is The song that will make you ask, "What the hell is wrong with Tony Randall?" "What's the peculiar noise" He should have stuck to Spock A song by a performer that's already appeared on one of the Wave 2 discs The song that's only on here for the benefit of Fred Hembeck Milton Berle spectacularly failing to be funny Don't worry, they are here to protect us "You never f*cking know the answer when it's important" A song from the same television show referenced in an earlier track Don't worry, it's only the apocalypse The Doctor gets the final word
Well, that was an...interesting weekend. I'm not quite sure what I can, should or want to say about it. But it has the potential to cause things around here to change quite a bit in the next few weeks and months.
I'm not afraid to admit when I'm wrong. In one of my prior manga ordering round-ups, I expressed skepticism about the quality of the upcoming MBQ by Felipe Smith. Felipe wrote to me and asked me to take a look at the preview pages, which I did, and you can too. It's funny and it has an appealing art style. And, unsurprisingly, it's not at all what the marketing I've seen for it made it sound like.
Mike: I shall be Manager Rex and you shall be my Manager Prince! Dorian: I'd rather be Manager Baron Mike: Why? Dorian: It sounds more sinister. Mike: Aw, man. Now I want to be Manager Baron.
A customer came in and asked me which super-hero comics are good for an eight year old who doesn't like super-heroes.
I'm still trying to see the logic in that thought process...
Another entertaining customer exchange over the weekend.
"We'd like to buy some comic books to send to the soldiers in Iraq. About how much are they?" Well, most of them are between $2.25 and $2.99. "What? Where are the comics that cost less than a dollar? We'll send them some of those instead." So...you support our troops, but not enough to pay retail prices?
(I kid...they were actually quite nice, and we loaded them down with free comics, but man...telling me you're only willing to spend a dollar per troop to support them. Classy.)
Lifelike, new web-comic by Dara Naraghi and Tom Williams.
So, the best news, by far, out of Wizard World Philadelphia is Showcase Presents, a new series of black and white, 500 page reprints of classic DC comics material. I've been hoping that DC would try to do something with their extensive back-catalog for some time now, especially the works outside the super-hero genre, and with Jonah Hex being one of the first titles to get this treatment, I'm optimistic for this line. Maybe folks will finally get their Sugar and Spike books. This would also be a good format for DC's mystery, fantasy and war titles. I'm not too excited about the idea of more super-hero comics being reprinted in this format (though it is probably the only way we'll ever get a Metamorpho trade out of DC), just because the general quality of other black and white reprints of super-hero comics is so poor. Some of the Essential titles are pretty much unreadable once you strip out the color.
The result of DC's latest mega-crossover will be...all the DCU books jumping forward in time one year. Which, I'll admit, sounds a bit gimmicky at first. But let's face it, it's the sort of house-cleaning approach to continuity that DC has needed since Crisis on Infinite Earths wrapped up. And I loved this bit: "Asked if there would be a regular writer on Flash after Darwyn Cooke, Didio joked, ÂWhy would we need a long term writer, thereÂs a Crisis coming?Â which was met by mostly silence and some nervous laughter. "
I got to explain to someone how to read manga. He literally had to have the method of reading from right to left explained to him step-by-step. But that's not the weird thing. The weird thing was that he came in and asked specifically for the "most violent manga you have." He left with Battle Royale, Arm of Kannon and Faust.
For some reason, Patrick Stewart's career was a subject of much concern in conversations yesterday. At first because, after determining that the world really would have been a better place if the Star Trek franchise had stopped after Wrath of Khan, we determined that the only good thing to ever come out of Star Trek was Patrick Stewart's career. Basically, if it hadn't been for Star Trek, we never would have gotten Patrick Stewart's brilliant performance as Sterling in Jeffrey.
And then Pal Corey had the most brilliant idea ever. Clearly, Patrick Stewart is ideal to play the lead in a film adaptation of Warren Ellis' Red. Just imagine Patrick Stewart doing horrible things to people's eyes with a spork.
There was a real easy way to spot which DC books had shipped late this week. They still had the old logo. It was even easier to spot the late shipping Marvel books. They said "Marvel" on their covers.
So, House of M came in, and I'm not surprised that it has started out as a slow seller. I expect it will eventually move, but I don't expect the kinds of sell-outs we've been having on DC books lately. I wanted to say a couple of things about it, based on my quick read-through. First, those covers. The variant of the Scarlet Witch's face coming apart in chunks was kind of creepy. And the regular cover, well...I suppose pastel-colored chunky super-heroes standing and looking off to the side is an approach to cover design you don't see very often. And I liked how the cover was very specific about the fact that it's the Astonishing X-Men who appear in the issue. Not the regular X-Men or the Uncanny X-Men. No, it's the X-Men from the book with the adjective that's actually selling and that most people seem to like.
Oh, and twenty pages of people standing around talking about the events of the Avengers: Disassembled story-line doesn't really strike me as the most dynamic way to kick off your company's big summer cross-over. Also, the progression of Scarlet Witch from subject to object has been very interesting to watch. She's gone from being a character with a distinctive personality and long history in the franchise to being the Macguffin of Magneto's latest plot to take over the world.
In the "In other news, water is wet and the sky is blue" department:
Comic books, and the films based on them, can appear to be creepy and misogynistic to non-comic book fans. I'm not really going to dwell on this one, partly because the piece is so poorly researched and bears an obvious pre-existing agenda that it really isn't worth paying much attention to. I'm actually more amused by the attempts to respond to it that others have written. I'm getting much entertainment out of them. Mostly they've been of the "Comics are NOT sexist trash! Why, I can think of, oh, at least two or three women who do comics," as if the mere existence of female comic creators negates any accusations of sexism in the comics industry, or of misogyny in Sin City in particular. (And I would go so far as to say that on a certain level the misogyny in Sin City is partly satirical. No one ever seems to get Frank Miller's jokes...) The only worth-while response to the piece I've seen has been Heidi MacDonald's article, which also has a focus on the responses and makes some very good points about comics fans not taking kindly to criticism from "outsiders," even when they're making the very same points that comic fans themselves make.
Here's the brave and selfless defender of Rann, Adam Strange, trying to help Hawkman against a foe the winged fascist is clearly unable to defeat, and not only does that big jerk Katar knock the ray gun out of Adam's hand, he threatens the guy for trying to help him not die!
Is it any wonder the noble and selfless people of Rann are going to wipe the floor with the back-stabbing, lying, cheating, disease-carrying (don't think I haven't forgotten that equalization plague they threatened the universe with) winged vermin of Thanagar?