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The producers of the upcoming Wolverine solo film have decided, in light of the negative critical and fan reaction to the third X-Men film, to high-light Hugh Jackman's musical theater abilities and the gay subtext of the X-franchise:
I love covers. I love Disney. I...am okay...with Tim Curry.
Diamond Comics Distributors has once again rejected from their catalogue work many people find of value. In this case, it was the print version of formerly on-line comics magazine Comics Foundry, edited by one of the sexiest men in comics, Tim Leong. Now, I don't find everything that appears in Comics Foundry to be of value, but it's certainly a hell of a lot better than other "generalist" comics magazines like Wizard or The Comics Buyers Guide. Diamond, however, didn't find it worthy of a listing because, apparently, it's in black and white. Which comics magazines of far narrower scope carried by Diamond are.
Now, as for me, I'd much rather see something like Comics Foundry on the shelf at my local comics shop than another TwoMorrows nostalgia fetishist magazine, with yet another interview with a Harvey comics colorist (after your fourth "and then the low pay drove me to alcoholism and my wife left me. I don't even remember what my kids look like" interview with someone who used to work in the comics industry, they all blend together), or another price guide of dubious accuracy. And if you feel the same way you could maybe write to Tim Huckelbery at Diamond and politely tell him so.
Tiny internet elves pointed out this handy function at the website for Canadian bookseller Chapters, where you can see scheduled ship dates for various DC trades. Many of which haven't been officially announced yet.
Amongst the highlights are: Showcase Presents: The Great Disaster featuring the Atomic Knights: more Silver Age wackiness, with a tie-in to Countdown. (November) JSA All Stars Archive: At $75 dollars, I'm at a loss as to what this might be. (November) Showcase Presents: Jonah Hex: Presumably a second volume, without any annoying unrelated characters butting in. (January) Superman/Batman: Saga of the Super Sons: Bob Haney baby! (December) Showcase Presents: Metal Men: Eh. (October) Legion of Super-Heroes: An Eye for an Eye: Apparently a Levitz era trade, when the jerkiness of the Legion was at its height. Good stuff. (December) Tales of the Multiverse: Batman-Vampire: Probably "Elseworlds" material under a new trade dress and title. (December) Showcase Presents: The Secret Society of Super-Villains: Oh, yes. Yes indeed. Showcase Presents: The Suicide Squad: John Ostrander is credited as the writer, so it's probably the post-Legends version. Which...wow, that's very recent material by the standards DC has previously set for Showcase trades. (November) JLA: Ultramarine Corps: Grant Morrison is credited as writer, but I have no clue what this could be, as I was under the impression that all previous Ultramarines stories had already been collected in JLA trades. (November) Kimmie66: No clue. Possibly an OGN. (November) Water Baby: Again, no clue. Possibly an OGN. (October) Edit: It just occured to me, these are almost certainly Minx titles. The Question: Denny O'Neil era, which will please many I'm sure. (October) 52: The Companion: Notes? "Behind the scenes" material? Sketches? (October) Showcase Presents: Captain Carrot and his Amazing Zoo Crew: Oh, yes. This is fantastic news. Especially if it includes the Oz-Wonderland War mini-series. (October) Showcase Presents: Batman and the Outsiders: A book I keep meaning to buy in back-issue form, so news that pleases me. (September) Sword of the Atom: The swords-and-sorcery revamp from the 80s. Probably a Countdown tie-in. (September) Dr. 13: Architecture and Morality: Brian Azzarello's brilliant meta-text from Tales of the Unexpected in stand-alone format. You really should get this. (September)
Bear in mind, this list could be wildly inaccurate. Heck, it updated while I was typing this. And just because it's on the list, that doesn't mean it's coming out. Will Pfeiffer's Hero is on the list. With a pub date of Januray, 2050. I doubt even DC sets their publishing plans decades in advance. Edit: Since the link seems to not work all the time, do a search for "DC", then order by publisher, then order by release date.
All this recent talk of gendered genres prompted me to remember a detail from my comics retail days. If you take the most sexist looking, T&A-riffic books on the racks, you're probably talking stuff like Lady Death, Purgatori, Tarot and Witchblade. At least in our neck of the woods, it seemed like the readership for those books was somewhere around 90% female. Now, you could argue, I suppose, that those books are about female empowerment. I'd look at you funny, but you could make the argument. But I think the appeal for our female customers was simpler: they wanted to read about women in heroic (or anti-heroic at least) action roles, who looked good in those action roles. Now, if something of as dubious quality as Chaos! Comics can attract a female readership, there's no reason to think that Marvel and DC can't.
Ragnell examines a trend in recent comics conversations online, in which fan entitlement concerns are dressed up as outrage over imagined sexism to give those arguments undeserved weight. This is a trend I've been sensing coming on for awhile now, and it does no one any good as it obfuscates genuine issues of concern and gives the pro-misogyny crowd ammunition to dismiss legitimate critiques by associating them with illegitimate ones.
On a related note, I can't stress enough how much I disagree with Johanna's fundamental position, that super-hero comics "aren't for girls." It's an overly reductive, near-essentialist attitude towards gender and genre that I'm really disappointed to see coming from such an intelligent and articulate commentator. It's not the genre itself that is sexist, it's the way the genre is marketed. There is nothing specifically masculine about Manichean morality plays in tights. I'm further troubled, because the "super-heroes aren't for girls" argument is the flip-side of those stupid "get your girlfriend to read comics" articles that pop up in the nerd-press from time to time which always recommend Strangers in Paradise and Sandman for women comic readers, as if there is some sort of female hive-mind enforcing uniformity of taste. It assumes that women "naturally" don't want to read about super-heroes, and that those who do are outside of normative parameters.
Kevin makes some very good arguments about accessibility in contemporary super-hero comics, and I essentially agree with him. Where we differ, I think, is that I'm not as concerned with accessibility in comics that are quite clearly designed to appeal primarily to existing fans with an extensive knowledge of comics continuity as I would be in work that is meant for a wider audience or has the potential to appeal to a wider audience. I'm okay with tailoring work for the "continuity porn" crowd to that crowd, in other words.
Chris talks about Dark Horse, and their inability to make material that they're advertising, material aimed at a very narrow market, available to their primary consumers; retailers. So, it's business as usual for Dark Horse, really.
Here's your fun link: I've finally figured out why the character designs in the new Transformers movie bother me. All the robots look almost exactly the same. Apart from variations in color, I'm hard-pressed to tell them apart. The fact that they all look like they've got metal dildos glued on to them doesn't help much either.
Supernatural: Origins #1, by , Peter Johnson and Matthew Dow Smith, with Geoff Johns and Phil Hester, published by DC/Wildstorm
I'm honestly not sure whether coming to this book without ever having seen even a single episode of the television series it serves as prequel to helped or hindered my response to the book. As a stand-alone concept, it worked fairly well. But there was a certain sense of "sketchiness" about many of the characters and the central premise, that left me feeling throughout the book that I was missing certain fairly significant details and elements of back-story. There are moments that feel very much like foreshadowing that will only pay off in the television show, or bits of exposition that explain gaps in an episode. So, while it was a well put together story and entertaining in its own right, I felt like I wasn't familiar enough with the background to get as much out of it as I was meant to. Smith's art, however, was exceptionally good, and reminded me a little bit of a mix of Duncan Fegredo and Mike Mignola. It's heavily shadowed and moody, which fits the tone of the book very well, and the stylized look to his art was quite striking.
Matt at No-Sword had a couple of brilliant posts up about post-war Japanese family planning guides. Here's part one and here's part two. It's really interesting stuff from an historical and sociological perspective, and as a comic reader it helps explain the "sister complex" I see so often in manga and anime.
Oh, and in reference to the current Man of the Moment, Topher Grace...I selected him because he was pretty much the only thing even remotely tolerable about the latest Spider-Man movie. How bad was it? Even Pete thought it was bad. I think the only other super-hero movie Pete didn't like was the third X-Men film. That's how bad it was.
A little bit of Subtext? What Subtext? for you, that I probably should have saved for Friday Night:
To be fair, pretty much any panel with Magicman is subtextastic. I mean, the green turban, the pearl necklace, the sleeve-less unitard slit to the navel, the pixie boots...and his secret identity? He's in the Army. I don't think they need to ask in the case of Magicman.
It's too damn hot in Santa Barbara to think. Here, let Grant Morrison think at you, about why you should never worry too much about what comic fans say on the internet, from this Newsarama interview:
GM: It's hard to say anything about comics fans in general based on what you read online because the majority of comics fans don't post. Of the 100,000 plus people who bought 52 every week only a tiny proportion ever commented on what they read and even fewer did so on a regular basis. The online community, nice as many of its members are, is not necessarily a representative cross-section of our readership, so while I always value and appreciate the genuine delight of the enthusiasts or shake my head in despair when I read the cranked-up-to-11 sociopathic onslaughts of the haters, I don't use the internet to judge my talent or gauge the popularity of my books.
As for their expectations, some of the people who appear to criticize the loudest are actually the ones we can most count on to buy the books week in, week out, so it's hard to rely on message board commentary as a barometer of success or failure. Remember it was the online community who insisted Daniel Craig would be the worst James Bond ever, (to the point where Craig himself was close to giving in to hopelessness), while the general audience has acclaimed him as possibly the best. Hardcore fans, while always welcome in my neck of the woods, are a very tiny, very specific subset of the audience which consumes popular entertainment and they don't always know what the public wants.
If you want your commentary a little more political, here's Mandy Steckelberg as Laura Bush in "Liberals Just Another Word for Gay":
And, finally, because I was bored last night:
Yeah, I know, laughing at my own jokes is so tired...
There's been some question in the gay blogosphere if this ad from the Super Bowl should be considered offensive or not:
The joke here seems to be that casual homophobia is funny. Which, at this point, if you have to have why it's not funny, or appropriate, explained to you, well, there's probably no point explaining it to you. For myself, I find the ad more stupid than offensive, and it certainly doesn't make me want a candy bar.
What I found more troubling was the reaction videos Snickers used to have on their web-site, in which football players expressed disgust at the notion of two men kissing. Homophobia in professional sports is a real problem, and one that most American sports leagues have been more than willing to turn a blind eye to, and it's disheartening that advertisers would seek to profit off it.
This picture has also made the internet rounds lately:
Now, I look at that picture, and I see a very attractive man. But apparently most gay men online are looking at that picture and seeing a big, fat, disgusting, fat, piggy, fat-fattie.
How fucked up is the body image of most gay men that they look at Morrissey and see someone fat? I'm not ashamed to admit, he's in better shape than I am, and he's in much better shape than most Americans. But then the attitude of Americans towards their bodies is out-right schizophrenic; we're quite probably, if not certainly, the fattest nation on the planet, but we loathe any body-type that strays from an impossible notion of perfection, so this sort of thing really shouldn't surprise me.
I've become interested in the culture that has sprung up around massively multi-player games. Enough so, in fact, that I finally broke down and bought a copy of World of Warcraft. This is as much a surprise to me as anyone, as when I had played WOW before, I hadn't really liked it very much. The emphasis on the game is very much on grinding to the maximum level possible, and then running the same dungeons over and over again to collect better and better equipment. There are also a great deal of time-sinks built into the game, designed seemingly to keep you playing and distracted from the highly repetitive nature of the missions. I'm still continually baffled by some of the "loot" drop rates, which more often than not defy all common sense: "Go and bring me back eight wolf paws!" "Okie-dokie, that just means go out and kill two wolves. No problem." Three hours later... "Boy, I can't believe there were over two hundred paw-less wolves in this forest."
And the less said about crafting systems and auction houses and other manifestations of in-game economies, the better. No, the City of Heroes games are much more my speed. The missions aren't any less repetitive, but there's a "get on, beat bad guys up for an hour, team if you want to, log off" approach that suits my lifestyle a little better.
So, why did I get the game, if it's not really my sort of thing? For some variety, mostly. Now, when I want to pretend to be someone else, I have another option besides "superhero" or "supervillain." I even went a step beyond, and put the character who has evolved into my "main" on a role-playing server, a step I'd always been reluctant to do in other on-line games. I'm not sure why I ever hesitated, it's not as if anyone on the role-playing servers ever, you know, role-plays their characters, but it was the thought that counted. Plus, as I said, I'm finding myself intrigued by the cultural significance of MMO games, and WOW is definitely the biggest one out there, so it felt like it was worth investigating.
Plus, I played a little bit of a "free" MMO from a major publisher that was basically a complete and utter knock-off of World of Warcraft, but without a tenth of the charm or appeal but plenty of fanboy pandering geek humor. After seeing WOW done wrong, it suddenly made the real game look a thousand times more appealing.
I'm trying so hard to avoid making a "stalker" joke...
Two new web-comics you might enjoy: The Gay Monsters, Andy Bauer's comic about the lives and loves of, well, gay monsters The Rack, Kevin Church's and Benjamin Birdie's look at the funny side of comics retail. Because a serious look at comics retailing would just depress you all.