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Wednesday, November 30, 2005
It's that pesky personal responsibility thing...
FCC Chairman Kevin Martin on fire safety:
"You can always make sure to keep flammable materials away from open flames, but why should you have to?"
FCC Chairman Kevin Martin on child safety:
"You can always tell your children not to play in the street or accept rides in vans with darkened windows, but why should you have to?"
FCC Chairman Kevin Martin on consumer debt:
"You can always pay your bills on time and consolidate loans at a lower interest rate, but why should you have to?"
FCC Chairman Kevin Martin on safe driving:
"You can always obey the speed limit and all posted traffic regulations, but why should you have to?"
FCC Chairman Kevin Martin on dressing for a job interview:
"You could always make sure that your clothing is clean and professional looking, but why should you have to?"
FCC Chairman Kevin Martin on protecting your computer:
"You could always make sure to regularly run a virus scan and avoid downloading attachments with executable files, but why should you have to?"
FCC Chairman Kevin Martin on house-painting:
"You could always start at the top of the building and work your way down, and finish your work with a second coat of clear varnish, but why should you have to?"
FCC Chairman Kevin Martin on sex and violence on satellite and cable television:
Giant Monster #2 by Steve Niles and Nat Jones continues the comedy of destruction from the previous issue. In fact, in this issue much of the horror of the premise is jettisoned entirely and the entire enterprise becomes even more of an exercise in black comedy. The inclusion of a giant Nazi robot alone gives lie to any illusions that this material is meant to be taken seriously. It's all in good fun, if your idea of "good fun" includes massive carnage, and whose doesn't?
Hero Squared #3 by Giffen, DeMatteis and Abraham is the conclusion to the most recent mini-series. On that score it's slightly frustrating, as there's no sense of resolution to the story so far, just further complications. There's some engaging, snappy dialogue, and Sloat makes himself my favorite character, but I really wanted a more satisfying ending than "everyone's unhappy except the villain."
Zombie Tales: Oblivion is the follow-up to the previous Zombie Tales anthology. As such, there is a mix of new stories and continuing stories, by most of the same creators. Not being a terribly big fan of the zombie genre in the first place, I was a bit underwhelmed by this volume, after liking the first book a great deal. I think the core problem is, not being a great fan of the genre in the first place, there wasn't enough in this book to differentiate it from either the prior book or all those other zombie comics on the stands. In other words, it felt more like a return to the usual preoccupations of the genre, not fresh like the first book.
Colonia: On Into the Great Lands, by Jeff Nicholson is the second trade collecting his Colonia comic series. I bought the first trade some time back and enjoyed it immensely, as I have most of Nicholson's work, although it has been some time since I read it and very few of the details were fresh in my mind. There's a recap of events here, but it fails to capture the utterly baffling events that make up the charm of this series. Nicholson's art has an engaging, simple, cartoony line, and he paces the story out so that new clues as to how the protagonists wound up in this strange, altered world come in a leisurely manner, allowing the reader to enjoy the strange sights and twists for their own sake. Both Colonia trades are excellent, all-ages material which should appeal to fans of fantasy comics, with the setting giving an extra appeal to history and pirate fans.
Off Road, Sean Murphy's graphic novel for Oni, is very much a "guy" story. I generally have a low tolerance for the "male bonding" genre of fiction, but Murphy approaches the material with a sly humor and sense of self-mockery that makes it appealing and engaging. The story focuses on a series of epiphanies for lead character Trent, with just a touch of action, and a heavy dose of humor throughout, as through a series of macho misfortunes, Trent and his buddies end up trapped in a swamp with a tipped over jeep. Murphy's art is expressive, while retaining an attractive, uncluttered style that allows him to move from cartoony to detailed easily and without distracting from the story. It's a fun story, with great art, and is well worth a look.
Something that struck me today as I was watching a bit of Superman II...outside of flash-back and imaginary stories in thirty to forty year old comics, we don't hear a lot about Lara, do we? You remember Lara, Superman's biological mother, right?
She's got a "Marlon Brando wouldn't come back" cameo in Superman II, I don't think she's ever been mentioned at all on Smallville, and the comics mostly focus on "Jor-El did this, Jor-El did that" when talking about Krypton.
Now, I'm not terribly surprised that the film and television versions of Superman don't want to talk about his mother. I long ago came to the conclusion that the majority of screen-writers have serious daddy issues, hence the over-abundance of film and television characters with distant, disapproving or dead fathers and mothers who are either ineffective or never talked about. Superman seeking approval of his dead father is a more obvious hook for writers with those kinds of preoccupations.
But I'm vaguely unnerved by all this now. It's like a conspiracy of silence to keep the world in the dark about what, exactly, Lara ever did or thought.
Sexiest Men Alive (According to Popular Magazines)
My mother has a subscription to People magazine. I've been known to glance at it from time to time. Purely in a spirit of research, as People's core approach to "news" is "entertainment lite designed to assuage/promote the fears and obsessions of the largely suburban, largely conservative women who make up the bulk of the readership," so it's a useful gauge of what the culture at large is preoccupied with at any given time.
Also, once a year they put together a big photo-pictorial of good-looking men. And, though it may come as a surprise to many of you, I like looking at pictures of good-looking men. So, for the amusement of, well, myself, my responses to People magazine's 2005 list of Sexiest Men Alive.
Sexiest Man Alive: Matthew McConaughey Well, he's certainly pretty, I'll give you that. But "sexiest man alive?" No, not by a long shot, sorry. He's got a certain scruffy demeanor that puts him above most of the blond pretty boys out there, but he's still, basically, a blond pretty boy. And there's something both off-putting and vaguely nelly about the way he purses his lips. It's like he's trying to imitate Tony Curtis in Some Like it Hot, but is forgetting that Curtis was in drag for a big part of that film.
Most Wanted Men
Jake Gyllenhall Now, this is more like it. Easily the most talented and charismatic actor of his generation. I don't much go for the big puppy-dog eyes in most cases, but I'll happily make an exception for him.
George Clooney At this point, he's simply a classic. He's gotten better looking with age, and seems to be happily settling into a niche as the inheritor of Cary Grant's charm and gravitas.
Matthew Fox I wasn't really aware of him until I started watching Lost a few months ago. Yeah, he's a bit of all right, isn't he.
Jamie Foxx Hrm, no. He just doesn't appeal to me at all.
Orlando Bloom Remember what I said earlier about not really getting into the blond pretty-boys. Yeah, I can understand in the abstract why some people find him attractive, but he does nothing at all for me.
Owen Wilson What's the only thing worse than a blond pretty-boy? A dumb blond pretty-boy. The sad thing is, his brother is more talented and better looking, but it's Owen I'm always hearing about, mostly from straight men who get very uncomfortable when it comes to talking about how attractive other men are. And that pursed lip thing I don't like about McConaughey is done by Wilson all the time as well.
Antonio Banderas Like Clooney, he's actually getting better looking as he ages. Plus, he played Zorro. That alone makes me all kinds of tingly.
Vince Vaughn Now, this is a sad case. He's not bad looking. And in normal circumstances he's much my type. And he has loads of charisma. But knowing that he makes out with Jennifer Aniston just destroys any and all appeal he might have once had for me.
Matt Damon Too pretty.
Brad Pitt Too pretty. See also: Vince Vaughn.
Viggo Mortensen He's a bit...intense. But damn good-looking. Don't bring up politics or any other controversial topic around him, and he's welcome to hang around.
Heath Ledger Another fellow I managed to remain unware of for some time. Not exactly my type, but I can see the appeal. Plus, before much longer I'll get to watch him make out with Jake Gyllenhaal, so I'm sure my appreciation of him will improve dramatically. Or, I'll hate him out of jealousy.
Patrick Dempsey He's been around forever, hasn't he? I certainly wouldn't throw him out of bed for eating crackers, so to speak, and I guess he's getting some attention lately because of some TV show I don't watch. He's all right.
Sexy at Every Age is a special feature featuring a bunch of attractive men broken down by decade of age. Most of the men are of varying talent and appeal, and there are a few guys here I'm sort of scratching my head at the inclusion of (Tyler Hilton? Constantine Maroulis? Are these people famous for anything other than being obscenely wealthy and having poor social skills?), but there are a couple of winners.
Dominic Monaghan I've thought he was bothersomely cute since I first saw him in Hettie Wainthrop Investigates. I don't do "cute." It’s not my thing. Yet I find him irresistable.
Kyle Secor He was brilliant on Homicide, and dead sexy to boot. I gather he's on that Geena Davis show now. He's good-looking, but I'm still not going to watch a Geena Davis show.
William L. Petersen C.S.I. was a show I'd occasionally watch if I was bored, had nothing else to do, and there wasn't anything else on. Then Petersen grew his beard. Now I make a point of trying to watch it when I can.
Men of Notes is a feature on sexy musicians. Yeah, I know, being good looking and being a good musician are usualy in conflict with one another.
Kanye West looks very angry in his photo. I'm not aware enough of him to know whether this is normal or not.
Franz Ferdinand is a very good band, but the guys are pretty goofy looking.
This Chayanne person looks like something I'd see in some sort of "Sexy Cowboy" calender. Too buffed, too pretty, too airbrushed.
Tim McGraw may be good-looking, but unfortunately most country singers look alike to me.
Nick Lachey is sort of cute, but he's married to Jessica Simpson, and that doesn't speak well for him.
Men of the Year appears to be a sort of catch-all article where they get to give "cute" labels to the men.
James Denton is apparently famous for frequently taking his shirt off on a show I don't watch. He's drop dead gorgeous, yes, but I still won't be watching the show he's on.
Daniel Dae Kim has got that intensely brooding thing down to a fine art. It's a very, very sexy skill. Just as an aside, the producers of Lost sure didn't shy away from casting plenty of beefcake for their series, did they?
Ian McShane doesn't belong anywhere near a "sexy men" list. Sorry.
This Terrance Howard fellow is kind of cute, but I don't really do cute. The same thing goes for Freddie Prinze Jr.
Denis Leary isn't bad-looking, but I don't understand how me made it onto this list. And again with Lance Armstrong, Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, John O'Hurley and Neil Patrick Harris. Dermot Mulrooney I can sort of see, but his handsomeness is sort of bland.
Now, Bradley Cooper definitely belongs here. That's an exceptionally good-looking man.
Rounding up the rest of the magazine, and focusing just on the fellows who I think do deserve to be here:
Jeremy Piven: Short, stocky, balding and furry. I'm rather surprised that a magazine aimed at heterosexual women put him on the list. I know tons of gay men adore him, myself included, but you don't often think of him appealing to straight women.
Anderson Cooper: Smart is always sexy. Now, if only he didn't think he was fooling anyone about that other thing…
Johnny Knoxville: I feel vaguely dirty for admitting I find him attractive.
Steve Carell: It's an unconventional sexiness, but it's there.
Ken Watanabe: It's that intense, brooding thing that wins me over again.
Mark Valley: Before I opened up this magazine, I'd never even heard of him. Very good looking, however.
The "What The Hell Are They Doing On A List Of Sexy Men" Men
Bono: Since when is pretentiousness sexy?
Tommy Lee and Travis Barker: And since when are men who look like junkies considered good-looking?
Dmitri Hamlin and Brawley Nolte: Now, it may just be my knee-jerk aversion to blond pretty boys, or maybe it's my distaste for people who are famous only for being famous, but I fail to see how being the children of men who looked really good twenty to thirty years ago qualifies you to be on a list of "sexy men."
Criminally Left Out
Paul Rudd: I mean, come on? He's funny, he's talented and he's very, very good-looking. And out of the huge list of men they compiled for this issue, he gets left out? What were they thinking?
I no longer work in comics retail, but I've been asked to continue to advise the store on manga-related matters. So, I went through Previews today.
Remarkably, other than the 1,000 or so titles that Tokyopop is pushing out, there were relatively few manga titles scheduled to ship in January. The second volumes of the very well-put together Go! Comi titles were listed (which reminds me, I really do need to go pick up a copy of Cantarella...), the first Kamikaze Girls book is listed from Viz's Shojo Beat line (though I was under the impression that it was a stand-alone book, not a Vol. 1), and Tokyopop seems to be following Marvel's lead on genre over-saturation (i.e., if one horror/western/war title sells, dozens of horror/western/war titles will sell even better ! see also: Spider-Man, X-Men), by pushing even more yaoi/bishonen/shonen ai titles out. Dark Horse has a Umezo Kazuo title coming out, which is a big deal if you're a fan of thirty year old Japanese horror comics. I've not been terribly impressed with the work of his that I've seen before, and it is terribly dated looking. And it's been my experience that older manga titles, while they do have a small cult audience in the states, tend not to interest the majority of contemporary manga fans.
I was vaguely under the impression that gay porn was scheduled to be shipping in January, but the only thing I found listed was Genus Male.
And I kept forgetting to mention up to this point Amazing Adventures of the Escapist #9, because I wanted everyone to know that it's slightly mind-boggling to come across a mention of someone you've known for years as a "hot new artist," namely my friend Jed, who is drawing a Luna Moth story written by Howard Chaykin. But he's extremely talented, so I expect you all to make sure to order this issue.
Rob Osborne's Sunset City is a complex book. I've read it over several times in the weeks since I bought it, trying to come to some sort of conclusive, definitive statement about it, but my goal eludes me. It is a book in which bad people do bad things, good people do bad things, and morally ambiguous people do bad things.
The focus of the story is Frank McDonald, a recent widower, recent retiree and recent resident at the Sunset City retirement community. Osborne does a brilliant job of characterizing the community and its people. He avoids any easy cliches and captures their humanity and their willing isolation from the larger world. These are people who have consciously made a decision to withdraw from the culture at large and live within their own self-made society. Osborne is particularly good at subtly portraying the hypocrisy of many of these people. They exhibit, to a large degree, an attitude that when the world doesn't fit into the neat little categories they want, it is the world that is wrong, but at the same time they show a disbelief in the idea that the "rules" of the culture at large should apply to them.
There are two stunning acts of violence that mark the book. The first, a convenience store robbery gone wrong, falls into that "morally ambiguous" area I mentioned earlier. At first we are drawn towards having some sympathy towards a man who defended his business from thieves, but the newspaper passages which punctuate chapters of the story paint a more complex portrait. The picture that emerges there is of a man with a casual disregard for violence and the deaths of others, suggestions of a history of violent over-reaction and intimations of racism. The second act of violence is taken by Frank himself, in a vigilante reaction to another tragic incident that intruded into the safe isolation of Sunset City. Frank's actions go beyond simple vigilante justice. They are actions born out of his sense of helplessness at the injustices of the world. He's unable to do anything about the casual, indifferent cruelties of the world, but he is able, and willing, to do something about this specific injustice, even if he understands intellectually that it is the "wrong" thing to do.
Sunset City is an accomplished, multi-layered work, and it's depth and skill is remarkable for being only Osborne's second comic. It's remarkable, and I'm at a loss to think of another recent comics work that has prompted so much thought and reflection on my part. I not only strongly recommend it, but would even suggest that a look at it is essential for anyone interested in comics as an art-form.
Quite a different beast entirely is Osborne's earlier book, 1000 Steps to World Domination. It's a surreal, absurdist humor book, that bounces from non-sequitur to non-sequitur in a winding, stream-of-consciousness ramble. Mixed in there is an amusing, if slight, portrait of the artist in mid-artistry. There's humor to be had in the book, but again it's slight work. And while I enjoy a good surreal joke as much as the next person (especially if the next person is Eugene Ionesco), in one big chunk of reading it is a bit much and becomes something of a distraction.
Both works also provide plenty of opportunities to enjoy Osborne's work as an artist. He has an engaging, rough-hewn style, occasionally vaguely suggestive of wood-block prints. In Sunset City in particular, the characters also have a bit of a "squiggly" look to them that helps to emphasize the ambiguity of the story.
Both works are good, though I find Sunset City to be much stronger of the two. The general impression I'm left with is that I'm looking at a promising talent with a strong debut, and that Rob Osborne is definitely a creator to keep an eye on and look out for future work from him.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that should Stanislav Ianevski choose to pursue a career in acting, rather than make the far more sensible decision of returning to his college studies, he will bring with him a sizeable gay following.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go watch some Bel Ami videos...
And Disneyland was fun, a good opportunity to see a friend I haven't seen in a long time and make a new friend, and spend time with Pete.
Though I did experience a "Barbarians at the Gate" moment while there, focused on the large number of children and teenagers who took some kind of portable video game system with them to Disneyland.
What, you're bored at Disneyland? Just the way the park is laid out and decorated isn't overstimulation enough, you have to have your nose in a pixel display your entire time in the park in order to keep yourself feeling a constant flow of sensory input?
I've been surprisingly harried lately, so posting has been erratic. Which makes me feel bad, as I now have a small pile of books and comics I really want to write up some reviews for.
And tomorrow I should have some, hopefully, surprising and interesting moblogging for you.
But I did want to say that, after watching the teaser trailer for Superman Returns last night, short of actually flashing the words "Superman=Jesus" across the screen, they couldn't have made their subtext any more overt.
Mostly what I've been doing in the mornings to wake myself up is watch movies. Most recently I've been on a "gay history" theme, with Thom Fitzgerald's Physique Pictorial docu-drama Beefcake and the film version of The Celluloid Closet being the most recent examples. Beefcake is an interesting film, as it manages to capture the innocence and playfulness of the Physique mag era, while not shying away from the seedier underbelly of that world (drugs, hustling, pederasty, prostitution...). The Celluloid Closet is also excellent, though far dryer, and both the book and film are essential for anyone interested in film or film history. What struck me most upon the most recent viewing was not only how the film ends on the advent of the New Queer Cinema, thus concluding on a far more hopeful note than the book, but also how the film is already extremely dated. The New Queer Cinema gave way, unfotunately, to the commodification of gay film, much as the gay literature movement gave way to a neatly delineated section for "gay books" in bookstores containing mediocre novels and "humor" books which only exist to fill a marketing niche. Now that "gay films" are a section in the chain video stores and online services such as Netflix, only the most middle-of-the-road works get made, in order to service the needs of those chain buyers who want non-threatening images of middle-class white homosexuality (and the occasional inter-racial romantic drama) to fill those shelves.
Another film I watched recently and enjoyed a great deal was The Whole Wide World. I thought it was fascinating not only as a portrait of Robert Howard, played by Vincent D'Onofrio, but as an examination of how pride can sabotage a loving relationship. This would also be the second film starring Renee Zellweger that I've liked. The other being Down With Love, my favorite Doris Day/Rock Hudson movie (which stars neither).
Today I actually took time to venture out to the bookstore. I've been frustrated by bookstores recently. It's become too hard to find things I'm actually interested in as the holiday book season starts to crowd out the new arrival racks, and as the culture starts to shift towards a kind of overly earnest literature that does nothing for me. The last time I was in a bookstore I couldn't find anything at all I felt like reading, and only managed to find something because I happened to walk past a display of "Self-Help" books on which someone had misfiled a book about Jack Parsons. My grand observation on this most recent trip was that the trend in books on mythology these days seems to be to write them as novels. Granted, it does make them more accessible and readable for an audience unfamiliar with the phrasings of classical language, but part of me still finds it slightly silly to read passages like: "Wait, my friend," Herakles said, grabbing Hylas by the arm. It was a strong grasp, and Hylas smiled at its familiarity. "You didn't want me to wait last night, my lord," and Hylas' grin in the moonlight was like a cat's. Which, I suppose, is still better than: "Give it to me, Herc! Give it to me hard!" Hylas gasped as he straddled the demi-god. Which is what I would fully expect to find in one of those by-the-numbers gay books I complained about earlier.
My rueful moment was spotting the movie tie-in edition of Brokeback Mountain. It's roughly the size of a mini-comic (for lack of a better comparison), with thick paper, huge margins, a large type-face, and something a little more than double-sized spacing of lines. And it's still only a few dozen pages long (I just looked it up, 64 pages to be precise). For ten dollars. See, this kind of pricing in the "real world" is why I roll my eyes at complaints that $2.99 is "too much" for a 32 page comic.
A pet peeve of mine is stealth albums. For example, if the store I went to hadn't happened to have put up a display of recent and upcoming films with indie rock soundtracks, I would never have known that the sound-track to Thumbsucker is performed by the Polyphonic Spree. It would never have occurred to me to look for a new Spree album in the soundtracks section.
Oh, and I also bought comics today. But those have been more of an afterthought recently.
The 3.5 Fundamental Differences Between DC and Archie Teen Humor Titles
One: DC's books are noticeably dirtier.
Hmmm...now what on Earth could two hormone addled teenagers possibly be going into a part of the woods that "nobody knows about" for?
Two: The male characters have actually experienced puberty and have facial hair.
Oh sure, I know that the real reason that Scooter's chubby comic-relief pal has a goatee is because he began as a hastily redrawn caricature of Maynard Krebs, but still, none of the guys in Riverdale even have long side-burns.
No great observation here, I just wanted to point out that DC's knock-off of Sabrina is a sinister-looking guy. A vast improvement in my opinion.
Three: The artists knew they weren't exactly fooling anyone.
Uh, that's Betty. No way can you convince me that figure isn't intended to be Betty. That figure is so obviously intended to be Betty it appears to have distracted Scooter's chubby comic-relief side-kick from his conversation with Malibu.
All men who taught me important lessons about masculinity and male behavior through their films. To borrow a quote and mangle it liberally, James Dean taught me to dress, Cary Grant taught me manners and Errol Flynn taught me how to woo.
So, you can't really talk about objectifying men, viewing them solely as sex objects, without talking about Tom of Finland. Oh sure, there were plenty of erotic artists before Tom, but he's probably had more of a cultural impact than any other purveyor of pornography save Hugh Hefner.
And whatever you do, don't mistake this work for anything other than what it is. It's porn. It is intended to arouse sexual desire and to cause impure, dirty thoughts. That is something that the artist himself was always keenly aware of, and in fact strived for. His work was so successful, in fact, that we partly have him to thank for many of the gay "looks" that we have today. If nothing else, it's doubtful the gay biker/leather look would be quite as distinctive as it is without Tom's drawings on the subject.
But the other thing that made Tom of Finland's work stand out, and one of the reasons why it's still popular today and has had such a cultural impact is that Tom's men are happy. They're thoroughly enjoying themselves, whatever they're doing, they're always smiling. And in contrast to much other early gay porn, there is a strong emphasis on tenderness and affection in the work. Tom's men don't just fuck and suck and part. No, they kiss and caress and embrace and when they do leave it's smiling at one another. It is a thoroughly positive and upbeat portrayal of gay men and gay sex.
Taschen has two books, both released recently, that provide a good overview of Tom of Finland's work. The first, Tom of Finland: The Art of Pleasure, is a retrospective of his work, divided up by decade. In it you can see the evolution of "the look" Tom strove for. The book starts out with muscular, but not too muscular, young men, not dissimilar from the models appearing in the physique magazines the drawings appeared in, eventually aging and gaining muscle, as well as more stylized dress, until by the late seventies and early eighties you come to the familiar looking "daddy" types Tom is best know for today. The book is exhaustive and well-designed, and provides an excellent introduction to the artist and his work.
The other book Taschen released is actually five. Tom of Finland: The Comic Collection is a tiny little box set collecting in five volumes the more or less complete comic book style stories Tom drew. Just about all of the adventures of Tom's gay everyman, Kake, are represented, as well as several other stories, including all three of Tom's Jack stories, a gay take on a Tarzan character. The box set is also beautifully designed, but it is a bit frustrating to see the art shrunk down to a small format, especially when the stories were originally printed in magazine-size comic books. Conspicuously absent are all of the early Tom "panel stories," from the days when his work appeared mostly in illustration form in physique magazines. Some of those stories are reprinted in The Art of Pleasure, and most are short enough that it seems odd that room couldn't be found for any of them in this set. Those objections aside, this is actually my favorite of the two books, as reading the collected stories in comic book format is great fun.
I just watched a Korean horror film. It was beautifully shot, and I half-suspect I see an homage to "The Yellow Wallpaper" in a couple of scenes. The use of sound in the film was exceptional as well. However...
I've seen "The Other," so the whole "sibling who isn't really real" bit was nothing new.
Also, while I can accept a film about a mentally disturbed teenage girl who thinks her stepmother is out to get her, and I can accept a film about a teenage girl in a haunted house, but a film about a mentally disturbed teenage girl who thinks her stepmother is out to get her in a haunted house and it turns out that yes in fact her stepmother is out to get her and the house is haunted by the sibling who isn't really real and who exacts a grisly revenge on the stepmother? That strains my ability to suspend disbelief. Just a tad.
The above panel is from the fourth of Tim Barela's Leonard and Larry collections, How Real Men Do It. Barela is an incredibly gifted cartoonist, and one of the best artists I've ever seen when it comes to capturing facial expressions and the aging of characters. The strip itself is sort of a gay sitcom, focusing on long-term couple Leonard and Larry, Larry's kids and grandkids, a closeted actor, the ghosts of Brahms and Tchaikovsky and a host of other assorted characters. Oh, and on top of all that, it's really funny.
I came across the panel while trying to think of some sort of unifying theme to keep myself motivated to post this week. And really, I think it captures the attitude I'm going for perfectly. So, in addition to catching up on one or two reviews I need to get done, let's all look forward to looking at good-looking men this week.
Two things quickly became very apparent upon reading the Showcase Presents: Jonah Hex book I bought earlier this week. 1) Jonah sure does take his shirt off a lot. And 2) Jonah keeps coming up with hastily concocted excuses to avoid any romantic entanglements with women.
I've been a Jonah Hex fan as far back as I can remember. I didn't start out reading super-hero comics. Mostly, as a young kid, I bought Disney comics and Charlton and DC horror comics. And, frequently, whatever western comics happened to be on sale, which at the time mostly meant Jonah Hex. I was very fond of cowboys at a young age. Very fond. If my parents had been paying more attention, perhaps suspiciously fond. Mostly, of course, that would have been the fault of the actors in Zorro and Lone Ranger movies and television shows. Hex I loved as a kid simply because he was cool.
The only complaint I have about the collection is the inclusion of seven non-Jonah stories from DC western comics in the back of the book. Oh, I'm sure that this is all material that doesn't stand a chance of ever being collected in any other format, and for fans of DC western books I'm sure these stories are in demand. But I'd have rather had seven more Hex stories, myself.
I've been thinking recently of which comics I re-read, and why. My purchasing habits are fairly varied. I purchase a mix of monthly comics and trades, with a healthy mix of super-hero comics, manga, "genre fiction," and "indie/art" comics. And since I buy comics for two, Pete being a comic reader as well, I also get exposed to and read a lot of stuff that, normally, I wouldn't. Then there's also my regular back-issue purchases. My fondness for the weird and goofy DC books of the sixties and seventies keeps me prowling back issue bins on a frequent schedule.
Yet, despite what seems to me to be an utterly insane amount of comics read and purchased on a recurring basis, I still, somehow, find myself rereading the vast majority of my comics purchases. But some title don't get reread. And I've noticed that a significant number of the titles that don't get reread are the manga titles. I wondered why this would be so, and it got me thinking as to why I reread certain titles and not others.
The super-hero comics are the ones that probably get reread most frequently. This is largely due to a desire to familiarize myself with past occurrences in light of newer issues. It's the continuity, in other words. Which isn't to say that I don't find pleasure in rereading these comics. In fact, it more or less goes without saying. If I didn't like it, I wouldn't care about what happens next, or want to try to remember what went before.
Most of the trades I purchase get reread on a periodic basis. This is more true of stand-alone trades than of trades that form part of a series. In the later case, what sometimes happens is that I go back two or three volumes in preparation for a new one, while trades that collect mini-series or stand-alone storylines get read whenever the mood strikes me. It's also probably worth pointing out in that regard that very rarely do I buy something in both monthly comics form and trade form. There are only very rare cases where I like something enough that I plan on rereading it often enough that I opt to purchase the more permanent edition as well.
With original graphic novels the split is almost even between "reread" and "never picked up again." Most of them are of a size that it doesn't take long to reread, and most of them aren't exactly intellectually taxing reading, so I would almost expect that I'd reread them more frequently, especially on those days when I'm bored and trying desperately to find something to read. And yet, most of them just sit on the bookcase once I'm done reading them, even ones that, as I recall, I actually enjoyed.
Now, the manga, that's a complicated case. Much of the manga doesn't get read for two simple reasons: length and repetition. I still enjoy Ranma 1/2, and tend to read new volumes as soon as they come out, but I never feel compelled to go back and read older ones. Mostly, I think, because with more than thirty volumes of the same basic jokes, reading one volume is largely the same as reading any other. On the more plot heavy titles I sometimes go back a volume or two to catch myself up on new volumes, but for the most part, it simply feels like too much work to haul down ten or more volumes off the bookcase.
A rare exception to these rules are the books of Yuu Watase and CLAMP. I can frequently dig those out and spend a day or two rereading the story up to the current point. In Watase's case, it's almost necessary to reread the stories frequently, as they're heavy on plot and fairly fast-paced.
Now that I've culled my manga reading piles a little, I've noticed a slight increase in the number of reread volumes. I've already read the second volume of Death Note twice, for example, and I've lost track of the number of times of reread the first volume of Chikyu Misaki and the three Yotsuba&! books.
Books I've Decided I Can Live Without Now That I No Longer Work In Comics Retail
Hawkman--It's actually good, but I don't find myself looking forward to reading it.
She-Hulk--I bought the first issue of the new series and didn't find it funny at all. Bad sign.
Inu-Yasha--I'm several volumes behind as it is, and everytime I flip open a new book I note that a) they still haven't found all the pieces of that damn gem and b) a new nemesis has been introduced who is more powerful and more evil than the previous nemesis, thus forcing the heroes to unlock yet another hidden power they didn't know they possessed.
Supreme Power--I was only picking it up for Pete, and even he had his fill of it. I think the general badness of the Hyperion and Nighthawk minis were what finally fed him up with it.
Everything else I've more or less decided not to buy anymore doesn't come out on a regular basis, so it's not even really worth considering it "dropped." I've stopped buying a ton of "indie" creator's work over the last year or two for the very simple reason that I don't find it the slightest bit fun to read their comics. Also, every time I see one of them complain in an interview or on an on-line venue that a Marvel or DC editor wouldn't "let" them do something, I end up reconsidering their work. Because, you know, last time I checked, there were any number of publishers who will "let" creators do whatever the hell they want, not to mention the self-publishing route. If their creative freedom is so damned important to them, why are they suckling at the corporate teat in the first place?
This still leaves me with a pull-list that's fairly comprehensive and varied. If every manga title I currently read were to be published in the same week, for example, I'd be set back about $200. Putting an actual list of the manga titles I read reveals far more titles aimed at teen girls than a thirty year old man should probably be reading. And that doesn't even cover graphic novels, which I decided not to put on my pull-list unless they were ones I was fairly certain the shop was going to under-order (such as any new Blacksad and Nikolai Dante books that should have shipped by now...).
I made Mike a CD to remember me by. Whenever my presence is missed in the shop he can put it on...and remember why they were glad to be rid of me.
1) Holly and Lister re-enact a typical conversation with a customer..."Wait, are you trying to tell me everybody's dead?"
2) Teach Me Tiger--April Stevens Stuff like this is as close as Mike and I can get to liking jazz.
3) Jolene--Dolly Parton It just wouldn't be a mix disc from me without this song on it.
4) My Heart Belongs to Daddy--Eartha Kitt We both are fond of the filthy, dirty songs that aren't actually filthy or dirty by modern standards.
5) Bedazzled--Peter Cook Brilliant, brilliant song, and it's a shame that the lousy Brendan Fraser film is keeping the original off DVD. "You fill me with inertia."
6) Knowing Me, Knowing You--Abba ...I like Abba, all right?
7) I Like You--Bert and Ernie Long story behind this onee...no subtext to the song at all.
8) He is the Boss of Me--Hidden Cameras Just another example of my weird taste.
9) Beach Blanket Bingo--Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon For no good reason other than to melt people's brains out their ears.
10) Alas for You--"Godspell" I've mentioned before that this song reminds me of comics blogging for some reason.
11) City Boy--Phil Ochs There had to be a Phil Ochs song on it. This is my favorite of the shorter, non-political songs.
12) Afternoon Delight--Starland Vocal Band Again, just because I'm that kind of guy.
13) 'Cause I'm a Blonde--Julie Brown There has to be one silly, goofy song on it.
14) A kids in the hall sketch that gets quoted far too often "You thanked Hitler!"
15) The Lunatics Have Taken Over the Asylum--Fun Boy Three Yeah, this song aptly describes working in comics retail.
16) Johnny Are You Queer--Josie Cotton There had to be a cheesy 80s song on it, and this one felt fitting.
17) Supermodel--Rupaul My weird sense of humor at play again.
18) Mah Nah Ma Na--The Muppets Long story...this song is the reason we're not allowed to say the name of a certain Dario Argento film starring Jennifer Connelly and Donald Pleasence, featuring a mutant midget and a chimp with a razor blade around Mike.
19) I Thought You Were My Boyfriend--Magnetic Fields The disc needed more gay, and it speaks to my odd taste in music.
20) Rock DJ--Robbie Williams There simply had to be a Robbie song on the disc.
21) Filthy/Gorgeous--Scissor Sisters You could, if you were cruel, say that this song describes Mike and I...
22) Be Aggressive--Faith No More Needs more gay...
23) Phantom of the Opera--Me First and the Gimmie-Gimmies If you know me, you know nothing pleases me more than an unnecessary cover.
24) Pretty Fly for a White Guy--Offspring Hmm...you know, I'm not actually sure, but it seems to work in context.
25) Hey Big Spender--Shirley Bassey The remixed version. You could probably put this on permanent loop in the store.
26) Soccer Practice--Johnny McGovern This is damn near my signature song at this point.
27) If I Were Gay--Stephen Lynch Still not enough gay, plus we needed more funny.
28) Spike has some parting words for the comics retail industry: "Try to remember I hate you all!"
My Overly Exhaustive Horror Quotes
"Ia! Ia! Cthulu Fthagan!" "They're coming to get you, Barbara!" "You've got red on you." "Oh God, Mother! Blood!" "Where you're going you won't need eyes to see." "Groovy." "No tears, please. It's a waste of good suffering." "I've been away from my children for far too long." "I kick ass for the Lord!" "Your mother ate my dog." "We all float down here." "One of us! One of us!" "Stick to the road." "Maybe he got too gay with the vestal virgins." "I never drink wine." "Children of the night, shut up!" "Doomed! You're all doomed!" "We all go a little mad sometimes." "In one minute, terrible things are going to happen." "Great party, isn't it?" "All of you of Earth are idiots!" "All he wants is his machete." "I sleep now." "You don't know what death is!" "Don't worry. I won't bite." "I wanna play with you." "I know all about cannibalism." "You're so cool Brewster!" "We belong dead." "We belong local." "Are you local?" "Hello Dave?" "Meat's meat and mans gotta eat." "The good news is, your dates are here." "They're all gonna laugh at you!" "Dr. Hill, I must say I'm very disappointed in you." "Come play with me Daddy!" "Death by stereo!" "Send more paramedics." "It's got a death curse." "You're in all sorts of trouble if you kill someone when they're still alive." "Some vampires will believe anything." "Time for go to bed." "Body of Christ!" "The power of Christ compels you!" "Jesus...wept." "Ink isn't worth anything to me Winslow." "I'll get you a satanic mechanic." "This isn't the Junior Chamber of Commerce Brad!" "Trumpy, you can do magic things!" "Evil, pure and simple, from the Eighth Dimension. " "Back off man, I'm a scientist." "Satan's spirit flew right out of my tv set and into my soul." "There wolf. There castle." "What knockers!" "I know drug real from real real." "Bad luck isn't brought from broken mirrors, but from broken minds." "I am Torgo, I take care of the place while the Master is away." "One thing about living in Santa Clara I never could stomach, all the damn vampires." "Death has come to your little town, Sheriff." = "I don't belong in the world." "Whatever you do, don't fall asleep." "A naked American man stole my balloons." "Have you tried talking to a corpse? It's boring." "Silver bullets or fire, that's the only way to get rid of the damn things. They're worse than cockroaches." "Television is reality, and reality is less than television." "It's lonely being a cannibal. Tough making friends." "There's no fog bank out there." "I will show you things you have never seen and I will watch the life run out of you." "She's...European." "If it had ended, we wouldn't be here." "Only the ghosts in the house are glad we're here." "That house is not fit to live in. No one's been able to live in it. It doesn't want people." "Witches! All of them witches!" "He has his father's eyes." "Pray for death." "You better watch what you say about my car." "I can hold my breath for a long, long time." "I need me gold!" "Get out!" "Houses don't have memories." "Those are some mighty big fuckin' teeth ya got there, Bob." "I think you should send us the biggest transport plane you have." "In their eyes, you are the savage." "The dead are not quiet in Hill House." "Whose hand was I holding?" "It was an evil house from the beginning, a house that was born bad." "Don't torture yourself Gomez. That's my job." "Murder starts in the heart, and its first weapon is a vicious tongue." "It's all right sir. You're among friends sir." "He was overacting as usual, but he knew how to make an exit." "Dishy, dishy hair." "Do me a favor? Don't scream." "This property is hereby condemned." "Humans. You're not worth the flesh you're printed on." "Shreck? That's a German word, isn't it?" "Men sometimes have strange motives for the things they do." "I thought television was a family medium." "Wolfman's got nards!" "Where the hell am I supposed to find silver bullets? K-Mart?" "Spooky in there, ain't it?" "Filled with things best not spoken of. Yes, I saw the movie." "It's all for you!" "It is a cursed place." "You cannot threaten the dead with death, my friend."