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As cringe-worthy as a lot of Coo Coo Comics #20 is, there's still some good stuff in there. One story I think is a real gem, with great coloring and beautiful minimalist linework, "Petey Possum", marred only but significantly by the regretable racism of the period.
Since the topic came up today, and judging by the number of unfamiliar names I've seen in comments, it's probably time to make this clear again: I generally prefer comments on posts to be relevant to the subject of the post. And if you absolutely cannot comment on the subject, that the comment you do make be at least entertaining.
So, for example, a post about a Golden Age gag strip's spectacular failure to be funny? Not the place to gripe about your dissatisfaction with a line-wide cross-over (and, honestly, if you're expecting more than barely tolerable continuity-porn out of a line-wide cross-over, more the fool you). A post where I actually bother to point out that complains about, say, Countdown bear a striking similarity to complaints about 52 from this time last year, suggesting that either people are misremembering what they said about the quality of 52 or that what people are complaining about may just be the necessary pacing of a 52-part weekly serial? Yeah, fine, have at it.
I would make one request in the later situation though: don't make the same tired whines that I see in places like Newsarama and Scans_Daily all the damn time. Don't complain that Dan Didio/Joe Quesada is the anti-Christ because a minor character who hasn't appeared regularly in a book for twenty years is being written out of character in their two-panel appearance. Don't brag about stealing the book from a torrent site because you refuse to pay for your childhood being raped. Don't praise any allegedly funny parodies or reviews that consist mainly of paraphrasing the same complaints posters at Newsarama or Scans_Daily make. And for the love of all that is good and holy in the universe, don't pan Company A's cross-over for being continuity-porn while praising Company B's continuity-porn cross-over.
And now, the "Pop Korn" strip from Coo Coo Comics #20, in its entirety, because honestly, you have to read the whole thing, in context, to appreciate this:
And...that's it. That's the two-page gag strip in full. Now, if you're like me, you're wondering "where's the punch line? That wasn't the slightest bit funny. That was just sort of...there." And so it occurs to me that one of two things must be true. Either people used to have really low expectations for their entertainment, and you could do gag strips that weren't funny (and the rest of Coo Coo Comics #20 broadly supports that theory), or Pop Korn is actually making a really deep and profound point that we should all meditate upon in order to reach a higher level of enlightenment.
(No, honestly, that's the strip...my comic isn't missing pages, it doesn't continue later in the book...that's it.)
And now, how a contemporary comic fan would react to that comic...
"Clearly, this was all just some blatant cash grab on the part of Gold Key to try and drum up sales on the lower-selling Chip 'n Dale book by involving it in this useless cross-over! Clearly, the editors of Gold Key hate the fans, as Zeke Wolf would never be tricked by a pixie in such a shameless manner! We're going to have to have a Crisis of Infinite Disney to sort this mess out. Of course, they'll probably just have Geoff Johns/Brian Bendis write it, so the Golden Age Mickey Mouse would be killed off. Because Dan Didio/Joe Quesada hate fun!"
Some of the recent talk about gay representation reminded me that I wanted to point out an example of someone doing it right. I usually read light fantasy and humor novels on my lunch breaks. It gives me something to get my mind off of managing inventory and purchasing for half and hour to forty minutes, and so I want something I can open, read a bit of, and finish, without having to feel any pressure to really think about what I'm reading. For this, the "young adult" aimed novels that tie into the Doctor Who show are great. I can get through two or three chapters of easily digestible prose while I eat, then go back to work.
Now, one of the hallmarks of the latest incarnation of the show has been the commitment to racial and sexual identity diversity. Not every character on the show is white, not every character on the show is straight. It's a science-fiction program that actually acknowledges that not everyone in the world now is a straight white male, much less everyone in the future or the past. In one of the recent batch of books, Forever Autumn, by Mark Morris, there's a gay character. It's a minor role, just a hapless townsperson the Doctor and Martha must rescue, but he's there. And the text acknowledges he's gay. It's just his interesting back-ground detail, something to keep him from being Mr. Generic Town Guy. This is a young adult novel that ties into a massively popular (in its home country) television show. And it deals with gay characters (and black characters and Asian characters and female characters) as just yet another aspect of the world.
The Doctor Who franchise can do this because the producers and creators want to do this. They could very easily have brought the show back and had a curious dearth of characters with melanin. They could have avoided those icky sexuality discussions entirely. They chose not to. And that's the difference.
In much the same way, one of the most successful authors of our time, an author that has already borne much undeserved scorn for her works by closed-minded people, found time to obsessively detail every adolescent heterosexual crush of her characters, but decided that openly dealing with the fact that some boys like boys and some girls like girls wasn't something she was interested in doing. In much the same way, a major American comic book publisher could have decided not to hire the outspoken homophobe to write a book featuring two lesbians of color. But for that author and that publisher, dealing realistically and positively with issues of sexual orientation, well...it's simply something they didn't want to be bothered to do.
All Star Superman #9: Man, I never would have seen the death of Superman coming, nor his elevation to godhood. What a completely unexpected twist. Too bad there are no utterly infallible online gossip columns with 100% accuracy records to have given us clues about that... Oh, and I'm sure this will be a permanent and forever change to the Superman status quo, as well.
Batman and the Outsiders #1: Finally, Batman is being written as he was always meant to be written: as a homophobic prick.
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier: After the last two volumes, and the edgy Lost Girls, I think it was quite shocking to discover that this latest volume is a completely sincere and serious examination of the history of British children's television. I had no idea there was a secret connection between the Wombles, Balamory and Danger Mouse. Nor that it was so sinister in nature.
Amory Wars #4: Not only does this book completely justify the oft-mocked and long-neglected genre of "comics based on lyrics", but it completely justifies prog-rock as well!
Scott Pilgrim Vol. 4: Now this was an unexpected change of direction. I don't know, maybe it's me, but based on the previous volumes, I think having Scott realize the vapidity of his hipster lifestyle and become the figurehead of a mass-murdering cult...it's a bit of a darker turn than I think the series needed to go in.
Pay Full Price The Golden Compass: It's nice to see that they're finally giving some glimpses of plot, even if only to explain to the public that this is not an attempt to cash in on the Harry Potter films (well...not directly...certainly not in the same way that, say, Eragon was an attempt to grab some of that sweet, sweet Lord of the Rings money). I'm still curious to find out how this goes over with the general public, given the usual bleatings you hear in the media whenever a film seems to not be sufficiently Christian enough.
Jumper: This will probably satisfy my 'stupid action movie' quota for several months. I like, actually, that the science-fiction element is restrained, focusing on one specific, easily exploitable and explainable thing.
Wristcutters: Ah, quirky indie comedies... I missed you. It's nice to have so many of you back, lately.
Harold and Kumar 2: The first film was one of those movies that I had zero expectations for and ended up liking a lot. I suspect this will be the film which causes me to 'owe' Pete first choice of movies for a few weeks, though.
Weirdsville: Okay...two slacker dudes getting into improbably misadventures...well-trod ground, but there's potential in that still. And then, I see it...midgets in armor. Oh yes.
Southland Tales: It feels like we've had to wait far too long for a proper follow-up to Donnie Darko. This looks gloriously mad and inventive and clever. The major flaw, of course, will be the DD fans, whose irrational devotion to that film, which makes your average Whedonite look like a fandom dilettante, will almost certainly spill over onto this. I mean, seriously, those people. "Did you work out that the film involved time travel?" Uh...yeah.
Enchanted: It looks silly and fluffy and cute. There's nothing wrong with that. Okay, maybe there's something wrong with that, but the inversion of the fantasy trope, with fairy-tale character going to the real world, appeals to me.
Iron Man: Dare I say it? Do we have a Marvel movie that looks...good? Wow, what a difference hiring people who can actually act makes, huh?
The Dark Knight: Isn't it past time we got some actual footage-type trailers?
The Mist: I liked the story. When I was a kid. And the usual unwatchability of films based on Stephen King's work is a factor to consider. But 1408 was...okay. So I have an unwarranted optimism.
Netflix It I Am Legend: As a novelist, Richard Matheson made a really good short story writer. There's an enjoyable element to his work, and he was pretty much the master of 'high concept' before that phrase came to be applied to just about every film that came out. Still...I'm not looking forward to vampire movies becoming as over-played as zombies.
Slipstream: How can I put this... this somehow looks like Anthony Hopkins trying to do a live-action version of a Satoshi Kon film only... not as good.
I'm Not There: I'm not a Dylan fan. At all. I'm really more of a Phil Ochs kind of guy. But it's Tod Haynes, and the conceit of casting six different actors to play the same role appeals to me. So it's worth a look.
One Missed Call: I'm not exactly sure why the Japanese find cell phones so creepy, but it feels like I've seen a good half dozen or so Asian horror films that posit something sinister in the things. In any case, there is an upside to the stream of usually inferior American remakes of Asian horror films: it's one less damn zombie movie to be made.
Juno: This looks sort of cute, and could be good, but I've become unfairly suspicious of 'child-birth' films recently. The political pundits jockeying to make the film support their point gets wearisome.
Walk Hard: I suppose with the number of music bios which have come out the last few years, the broad satire was due. Looks slight, but amusing.
National Treasure: Book of Secrets: About the nicest thing I could say about the first film was that it was a nice, non-pretentious version of The DaVinci Code, and it's apolitical, non-preachy patriotism was kind of touching. I'm not sure it was quite good enough to merit a sequel.
The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep: I'm looking at a trailer for a charming looking family film, and then they have to go and rewind me that it's being made by Walden Media, a company that exists to put politics before story.
Alvin and the Chipmunks: I'll admit to being curious about it. Granted, it's a morbid curiosity. On the other hand, nerds seem to hate the very idea of this film tremendously. The word "rape" has been used, as has the word "childhood" on many a message board. Which tells me the film must be doing something right.
Wanted: I like to think the fact that the producers of the film have, apparently, completely abandoned every aspect of the original comic's theme, tone and plot is their attempt to replicate the complete and utter contempt Mark Millar has for his audience as displayed in that comic.
Sweeney Todd: I still can't get over the seeming avoidance of letting people know this is a musical on display in that trailer.
The Orphanage: You know, sometimes it's a good idea in a horror movie to give the audience a friggin' clue what the film's about. Just sayin'.
I'd Rather Go Hunting With Cheney There Will Be Blood: Paul Thomas Anderson doing a (very loose, apparently) adaptation of one of Upton Sinclair's more moralizing novels? Uhm, yes, politically timely and all, to the point where you may as well have the characters holding up signs indicating who they're meant to represent, but unless I was a high school student trying to cheat on a book report, I don't see anything here for me.
27 Dresses: As I get older, I find my tolerance for the 'quirky romantic comedy about a gal who just can't get it together' fading rapidly. I mean, seriously, a brides-maid twenty-seven times, and she can't get a date? That's not funny...that's just depressingly sad.
The Ten Commandments: In addition to the laughable casting of Christian Slater as Moses, the animation simply looks...well...like shit.
Fred Claus: If you have children, and they ask to see this film, put them up for adoption. Seriously. In the long run, you'll all be happier.
P2: Ah, 'woman in peril' movies...your transformation from 'feminist parable' to 'creepy misogynistic exploitation films' was so gradual, we barely noticed.
August Rush: Another heart-warming tale of a preternaturally gifted child? Those are getting to be as tiresome as screenwriters working out their issues with their fathers on film.
Be Kind Rewind: No. Please, no. Please no films that encourage nerds to over-estimate their own importance and creativity.
Beowulf: Oh, Uncanny Valley...why do the makers of computer animated films want to pretend you don't exist? I'd much rather see a remake of Grendel in any case. Although, on the bright side, if this does as well as Stardust, maybe Neil Gaiman will start writing comics again...
That stupid fucking nameless movie: Words cannot express how utterly dumb and annoying I find this. It's clear the creators had no faith in their concept or story, so they concocted this lame 'viral' stunt to build nerd buzz. Because that worked so well for Snakes on a Plane I guess.
Hitman: Still, I'd rather watch that J.J. Abrams film than another movie based on a video game.
Drillbit Taylor: Even setting aside my distaste for Owen Wilson films, I just can't get excited about YET ANOTHER 'teenage nerds in wacky crisis' film.
10,000 BC: Well, the protests from Evangelicals offended by the film's rejection of a young Earth should be entertaining. And there might be some fun to be had in playing "spot the anachronism." But apart from that...maybe I'll just rent Quest for Fire.
Hey Kids! We've found a way to turn horrible human tragedy into a business opportunity! (We've also found a way to make you pay for worthless stamps, but hey, since real comics collecting as investment is still a decade or so away, unscrupulous folks like us have to make a buck somehow...)
Diana Prince: Wonder Woman: The white jump-suit/I-Ching era of Wonder Woman is pretty universally panned for a reason. That being said, it does give us Wonder Woman fighting evil lesbian street gangs and, eventually, Samuel R. Delany.
New series Doctor Who comics...with Martha!
As glad as I am to see this, part of me wants to wait in hopes that the edition with the diorama and Near's figurines gets a US release.
Now, I have no intention of buying any of this crap...but I like that it exists. Because, as questionable as my taste can sometimes be, at least I can still feel smugly superior to Star Wars fans.
Four Things In Previews That Amuse Me
Lesbian Mini-Mates...I think I'll pose them next to my Hawkgirl, leaving Hawkman open for my Wildcat...
Well, that's quite a change in tone for this series...
Yes, I am entertained that the figure that was basically just a repainted Optimus Prime with new accessories is now a bust that's...just a repainted Optimus Prime bust. Of course, Transformers fans have shown a willingness to buy just about ANYTHING, so this also doesn't really surprise me.
At the rate the series is progressing, those "Parental Advisory" stickers on MPD-Psycho are just going to keep getting bigger and bigger.
Four Things In Previews That Confuse Me
Torchwood Magazine? From the people that give us all those cheesey licensed television show magazines that are low on content but high on merchandise ads? I'm having trouble picturing Torchwood as part of that crowd of shows...
A Japanese action figure of a female character...that's sensibly and modestly dressed? Can such things truly be? The cognitive dissonance of stumbling upon this item has forced me to go lie down for a bit...
"Toon" Buffy merchandise now...it really is just far past time to let Buffy go.
But, but, people keep telling me that manga is better than American comics because it's not sexist or misogynistic...did the blogerati lie to me?
Four Things In Previews That Appall Me
It's not so much the existence of a $40 piece of scrap metal that I find offensive...it's that there are people who will see this and say "Forty bucks? What a deal!"
No, seriously, fuck you Marvel.
Non porn comics based on porn performers...pathetisad.