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Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Batman: Police Sketch Artist
Who is the Dark Knight Detective on the hunt for? Could it be an alien time traveller?
Hollywood bad-boy and occasional nudist Scott Caan?
Skaro bad-boy and occasional nudist Dalek Caan?
Or, in a rare cross-over, is he hunting down an over-exposed X-Man?
Aw, man...I've managed to blow through all the books in print by the authors I'm currently reading. I am bookless. I gotta find something to read. I know, I'll swing by the Local Chain Bookstore on my way home from work and pick something up. Take a look around, find something new. Yeah, that'll work. How hard can it be to find something worth reading in a store with millions of books on the shelves?
Okay, let's start here in the mystery section.
Sasha Trueblood is a plucky young FBI agent who has just been handed the case of her career. A serial killer is stalking super-models and leaving their corpses in fashion magazine lobbies. Becoming his bait by walking the runway, will she find him before he finds her?
Okay. That's...that's maybe a little too high concept for me. And a setting I don't really care about. Let's look for something on the next shelf.
Miranda Delamorte is a plucky young forensic investigator who just landed the case of her career. Called to the scene of a bloody serial killing, she must use her expertise as a botanical analyst to-
Ugh, no, no tech-porn
Helen Punnaname is a plucky young-
Christ, are there any other adjectives for female mystery protagonists? Let's go in a different direction for the mysteries and check out the trade sized books with the fancy-dancy lettering
Philip Sicizer is a rookie cop assigned to the Chicago World's Fair when he stumbles upon a charnal house in a local hotel. With the help of his adopted Native American son, he must unravel a mystery connected to an unspeakable secret at the fair.
Oh, well, that's only been done about a dozen times now. What else is here?
Henry O'Malley is a rookie cop who has just discovered a body in the foundations of Ellis Island. With his adopted Chinese son, he must unravel a trans-Atlantic conspiracy that reaches to the highest levels of European and American politics!
Okay, was there some wave of single-male adoptions in the 1900s that never got covered in history class? Okay, forget it, moving on...
An art historian must unravel a religious secret hidden in late Renaissance murals before the Vatican's secret assassins catch up to him.
An archaeologist must unravel an occult conspiracy hidden in Etruscan pottery before the Vatican's secret assassins catch up to him.
A grad student must unravel a Royal conspiracy hidden in Elizabethan poetry before the Crown's secret assassins catch up to her.
Dan Brown has much to answer for.
Okay, it's clear that I'm not going to find anything in the mystery section. Let's try fantasy and sci-fi.
In a techno-retro past where steam-powered technology rules the day, a humble inventor must risk his life to expose a conspiracy that reaches to the highest level of society.
Well, at least no one's plucky.
In Part the Second of the "Deathwing of the Skies" Pentology, Rehyvar the Red Rogue and his unwilling bond-mate Hhaarriiaa must seek the aid of the Ulaiora, beautiful immortal beings who are not at all anything like Elves, before the Black Wizards of Notnilc and Isolep can carry out their murderous plot against the High Tetrarch of Raqari. And, far away, the sinister forces of the Undead Lich Lord of Undeath is marshalling his armies beyond the reaches of the Black Swamps of Un'unt'uh.
Are they seriously still making books like this?
Amy Alicia is a plucky girl working at the cosmetics counter at a run-down department store. While walking home one night she's attacked, only to be rescued by the mysterious Braun, a sexy and dashing man that Amy finds herself mysteriously drawn to. As she learns more about Braun, she is drawn deeper into his world of night-creatures, as she comes face to face with the greatest secret of the ages: vampires live amongst us!
Gyah! No! Kill it! Kill it with fire!
Marv Purvis is a military man from a long history of military men. Rocketed to the stars to fight an invading horde of aliens, he must bond together with the other men in his unit as they learn about their amazing new weapons, the strange loves of alien women, and the unholy savages bent on the destruction of Earth and their way of life in a way that is not at all intended to be an allegory for contemporary American politics at all.
Ah. Gun porn. Fortunately, I have no anxieties over the size of my penis, and don't need to read stuff like this.
Well, this is a bust. Let's look at horror.
The second cousin of acclaimed horror author Dean Koontz brings you a shattering journey into terror that is remarkably similar to Koontz's books but distinct enough to avoid copy-right issues!
Wow...there's like two whole shelves of books by relatives of better horror writers! When did this turn into a distinct sub-genre?
A haunted radio-
A demon-possessed guitar-
God, no! Holy Christ, there's like six shelves of zombie books!
A pre-historic shark-
NO! No, no, no! Isn't there one single fucking book in this entire damn store that speaks to me as a reader?
Fucked up shit goes down on an island. Dudes get messed up, hard. The actual Devil may be involved, or crazy dudes just think it's the Devil.
Thumper decided to take up blogging as a pastime, sharing with the world everything there is to know about himself and his furry forest friends.
Thumper gained some popularity early on for, basically, telling the other forest creatures who were online what they wanted to hear and engaging in a not subtle at all campaign of complaining about the activities of the animals who hung around that other watering hole.
Which led to lots of comments from Thumper's readers along these lines:
One day, flush with his own ego and determined to show the world how great he is, Thumper tried to make some cash-money off the fact that he had a "very popular blog." It was then that Thumper discovered something very important, when he tried telling people who had never even heard of his blog how important he is:
Namely, that the real world doesn't give a good god-damn about how "important" your commentators think you are.
Dorian, Finally, Talks About Contemporary Comics Again
ITEM! There were several points during my viewing of the film Wanted that I had a strong urge to get up and leave. You see, there are dumb action movies, and then there are films that are so fundamentally insulting to your intelligence and so massively ill-conceived in theme and structure that you find yourself idly wondering just how good the blow was that the studio executives who green lit the film had to have been snorting. Wanted is an example of the latter. I realized this somewhere between the scene where Angelina Jolie drove a car onto a train and the point where it becomes clear that the theme of the film is yet another variation of "Daddy wasn't there/didn't love me enough, so now I have a shitty job/life and don't know who I am."
As a result of this film, James McAvoy has joined Vincet Cassel and Adam Sandler on my "If Your Name Is In The Credits, I Won't See The Film" list. [Cassel for a film called Sheitan, which I would tell you to see if you doubt his worthiness for being on the list, but honestly, there is no one in the world that I hate enough to ever suggest they see that film, and Sandler for, well, anything he's ever been in.]
On the other hand, Wall E was really quite good.
ITEM! I'm still seeing some complaints about how Final Crisis is "hard to understand." And when I say "some complaints" I mean "people on message boards and also in LiveJournal communities dedicated to stealing comics." And I can't say I'm surprised by any of the complaints, because honestly, super-hero fans love to complain. I'm half convinced at times that very few of them actually like comics, they just want to have something to complain about and something to get into nerd-cock measuring contests with other people about.
I mean, Joyce's Ulysses is hard to understand. Barthelme's Snow White is challenging. Pratchett's Discworld series is easy to understand. And the work of Dan Brown is pablum. Final Crisis so far falls somewhere between Pratchett and Barthelme on the "hard to read" scale, edging more towards the Pratchett end of things. But given that most super-hero comics make Dan Brown's work look intellectually sophisticated, I'm almost prepared to believe that there are some readers out there that are so used to reading bad comics that they actually are thrown by a work that doesn't hold their hands, explain the plot in every detail, spell out character motivations in simple declarative statements, and rely on the same set-piece, namely a big fight, to move the story along in every issue.
A far more likely explanation for the complaints, other than the "nerds just like to have something to complain about" angle, is that the people making the complaint actually aren't reading the comic. And by that, I mean both the folks that are not actually buying it and reading it, though they make like at a few pages or panels on-line, stripped of context and narrative, and basing their statement on that, and I mean the people who are buying it, but not actually reading it, because they're flipping through it, looking at the pictures, and trying to piece together the story that way, because you can with the majority of comics. And they're being thrown by the novelty of actually having to read a comic book.
ITEM! The recent arm-chair quarter-backing a lot of blogs and message boards engaged in was entertaining to watch, but ultimately depressing. What it all boiled down to was a bunch of disgruntled nerds and members of the comic book punditocracy, many of whom had a glaringly obvious axe to grind, none of them people who had ever really worked a creative job in their lives, playing a game of "If I Ran The Zoo" and pretending that anyone in a position of actual power in the comics industry gave a damn about what they thought. It was entertaining, because I kept imagining what the kinds of comic book companies these people were proposing would look like, and all I could picture was some horrible little start-up company that puts out one issue of the most cliche-ridden comic ever in its ten months of existence, before collapsing in an insurmountable debt-hole. And depressing, because I realized that all these people were serious, and they actually thought their ideas were any good.
Dorian: You know, for some reason, I had the Mego Lt. Uhura doll when I was a kid. Mike: Really? Dorian: Yeah. Though eventually she ended up wearing Spider-Man's costume. Mike: So at one point you had a naked Uhura. Dorian: Only briefly. More importantly, I had a naked Spider-Man. Mike: So when you were a kid, you picked out clothes for women and kept naked men around you? Dorian: Yeah. Some things really shouldn't have come as a surprise to my parents.
One of the quirks of online fandoms is their...interesting attitude towards the truth. When a fan says something is "true" it doesn't necessarily mean what a non-fan might think it means. So, as a public service, and with pretty pictures to help make the lesson more interesting, in ascending order from "least true" to "most true" in the eyes of fans, I present:
Why, yes, they are in the right order. These are fans remember...
LITTLE LULU TP VOL 18 THE EXPERT If you had told me a couple of years ago that a collection of Little Lulu reprints would sell well enough to justify eighteen volumes I'd...well, I'd probably nod and smile politely while thinking "what a weirdo Mike is."
FREDDY VS JASON VS ASH #4 (OF 6) (MR) Yet another sign there is no God...
GON VOL 03 Oh, tiny dinosaur, is there no day you cannot salvage through the infliction of horrible violence onto predators?
ANNIHILATION CONQUEST HC BOOK 1 Not enough Rocket Raccoon
ASTONISHING X-MEN #24 Too much Whedon.
WORLD WAR HULK AFTERSMASH DAMAGE CONTROL #1 (OF 3) My dilemma...does McDuffie returning to Damage Control trump the annoyance factor of the cross-over branding?
YOUNG AVENGERS PRESENTS #1 (OF 6) I wonder if I would still be so enthusiastic about Young Avengers if it came out more often. As it is, it's like a nice little treat when something does show up. More regular appearances, and I might get bored by the cross-over-itis.
COMPLETE METAL GEAR SOLID HC (AUG063391) $55.00 A $55 hard-cover collection for a video-game tie-in comic. A sarcastic comment is unnecessary, I feel.
GARGOYLES TP VOL 1 CLAN BUILDING Over the years, I've learned to be amused by the fanaticism Transformers fans, and occasionally entertained by G.I. Joe fans and their dogmatism. Gargoyles fans though? They actually scare me a little.
GUIN SAGA MANGA TP VOL 02 SEVEN MAGI I just read the first volume. It really was just a cheap, trashy fantasy novel in manga format, the sort of thing that, in book form, just prompts a sigh when I come upon it in bookstores. That sort of thing just about works in manga form, though. At least I can just see the damned eldritch horror, instead of having to read six pages of description.
MILFS ON MARS GN (A) Remember when Eros put out porn books you weren't embarrassed to be in the same building with?
UNCLE SCROOGE #371 WALT DISNEYS COMICS & STORIES #686 Holy Chao! These have August 07 order codes! I never honestly expected to see these in stores again.
CLASSIC MARVEL FIGURINE COLL MAG #25 CYCLOPS I'm going to be in trouble when the DC ones start showing up in Previews. Good thing I have this new apartment that could actually fit a new display case...
24 8 AM JACK BAUER 12-IN CLOTH AF This puts me in mind of "Rob Liefeld's 8 inch Shaft" for no good reason.
HALO PRISONER FINE ART GICLEE $89.00 This is an $89 video-game poster. Again, sarcasm is redundant.
MAD BALLS CLASSIC SERIES 1 Dear Marketers, Not every toy from the '80s needs to come back. Love, Dorian
Still moving, updates still to be spotty, so amuse yourselves with this:
NONA...Nerds Only Need Apply
I was thinking of this while reading a discussion of the new Star Trek film, and how my gut feeling is that the franchise hasn't lain fallow long enough to remove the stigma of being for a hard-core cult audience that a new film version needs to be viable. That, to be truly effective, the franchise needs a Doctor Who or Battlestar Galactica length gap between old and new versions; long enough to make the old fans happy it's back, but also long enough to make the wider audience comfortably nostalgic for it. At this point, it doesn't matter how many pretty young men you pack into the film (and boy howdy, are they packing them into this movie...almost as if they're deliberately banking on gay men and slashing fangirls shoring up the box office), the general public's opinion of Star Trek is that it's something for nerds, by nerds, and no one but nerds would have any interest in it.
But, I kind of like that turn of phrase, NONA, even if I must say so myself. And now I'm curious; what else out there in the pop culture spectrum do you think is being hurt (or helped) by the Nerds Only Need Apply attitude of creators?
True writing talent comes from inspirational ideas, vision and creativity. The boring technical stuff can be done by others.
The characters are not there to serve your super-special plot. Rather, your plot should serve the characters. This a fundamental rule of writing in someone else's universe. *I* obey it and I don't even get paid, you fuckwads.
Two different people, two different message boards, two different fandoms. And yet, both very telling about the nature of fandom in general, I think. And you?
It's official; I have no strong opinions about One More Day. This shouldn't be particularly surprising, seeing as how I don't like Spider-Man the character. At all. If I wanted to hear about the life of whiny, neurotic losers, I'd spend more time in bars. Or comic shops. I don't see why I should be expected to pay for the privilege.
The outrage has been fun to watch, though, as it usually is. Nerd rage is highly entertaining after all, especially the more self-important and self-righteous it becomes. For the sake of comparison, the last time I saw raw anger that approached this level it was when Blue Beetle was killed. This eclipses that though, as unlike Blue Beetle, Spider-Man actually is a popular character. I can understand why, even despite my dislike for the character; having Peter Parker sell his soul to Satan in order to avoid the consequences of his actions as Spider-Man really is about as far as you can get from the core concept of the character without rendering him utterly unusable.
I think the thing that gets me is that people are genuinely surprised at the turn the storyline took. I never thought that the Straczynski run was any great shakes to begin with, not from any of the issues I read, and so given that it started badly, with lots of negative reaction from fans, continued badly, with lots of negative reaction from fans, how did people expect it was going to end? In sunshine and lollipops? That the book would be of such fantastic quality that it would cure cancer?
The only interesting thing about the book, to my mind, is the back-and-forth squabbling between Straczynski and Marvel's Editor-In-Cheif, Joe Quesada, over whose bad idea the book was, and to what extent. Not that they're quite phrasing it like that, mind you. It's interesting because, in the early days of Quesada's tenure, Marvel was supposed to be the big-time comic company that let the writers work on corporately owned characters in whatever manner they saw fit, without heavy editorial interference. And those days, apparently, have passed, if editorially mandated rewrites of the book really did happen. Which, again, shouldn't be too surprising, given that Marvel just finished up Act Two of a cross-over cycle that began with Avengers: Disassembled and seems poised to go on for another year or two at least. You simply can't manage, or micro-manage, so many events of such magnitude for an extended period without having a heavy editorial hand. (Or, to look at it another way, it's Marvel once again copying DC's bad ideas...)
And that, after all this, a few foolish people have been seen expressing optimism for the storyline to follow this? Oh, that's the funniest thing of all, really.
I blame all those people who complained about how they "hadn't heard" of any of the books on last year's list... I mean, I'm sure it's an entertaining book and all, but is it really better than , say Alice in Sunderland or The Salon, neither of which, I note, made it onto your list...was it really the fourth best graphic novel of the year?
*(The title of this post was shamelessly stolen from inspired by Kevin Church.)
Hey, having difficulty finding Holiday gifts for your friends, loved ones and enemies you wish to lull into a false sense of security? Wishing and hoping that some kindly soul would take pity on you and give you a gift-giving guide with the official stamp of approval of a slightly sarcastic web-blogger? Of course you are! That's why this list is here; for you! (That buying anything on this list, or even just clicking through one of the links and then buying something else entirely, helps me afford to buy Holiday gifts for my friends and loved ones [my enemies can go sit-n-spin] is besides the point...)
Doctor Who Junk!
So, we know it's the best science-fiction program of all time. But do you know a fan who doesn't own the first, second or third series on DVD yet? Correct that.
Books are tricky gifts, but I find that it's frequently a safe bet to get something new to the giftee but similar to what they already read. The Wit and Wisdom of Discworld is a great book, but someone has to already be a Terry Pratchett fan to really get the most out of it. For a first introduction to Pratchett, I would go with the religious satire of Small Gods. It's a better introduction to both the fantasy aspects of the Discworld series and the pointed commentary on real world issues the books bring up. The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents is a good choice for a younger reader.
For horror or mystery fans, we're going to cheat and use books that bridge that gap. Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child write good pot-boilers that combine the best elements of trashy pulp books and those "themed" detective novels. Their signature character, FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast, first appears in Relic, but the best work featuring the character is probably The Cabinet of Curiosities. The non-Pendergast novel Riptide, inspired by the Oak Island mystery is worthy of attention as well.
Also of particular note is Phil Rickman's supernatural/mystery series featuring the Reverend Merrily Watkins, a single mother, widow and exorcist, which begins with Wine of Angels. Rickman blends Christian doctrine and the pagan heritage of Britain into stunning fair-play mysteries with strong supernatural overtones. The Chalice doesn't feature Merrily, but it blends a strong mystery, Arthurian myth and occult secret societies into an excellent read.
Film! Sort of!
If you know any fans of British comedy, or anyone who works retail and would love to let their id loose, Black Books is a fantastic show, starring Dylan Moran as a surly Irish alcoholic, Bill Bailey as his well meaning but naive employee, and Tamsin Greig as their friend and sometime neighbor. I mean, look:
For more American fare, there's always the momentarily still available second volume of the Chronological Donald, with the third volume due by Christmas. Now, I'm not saying this because I'm partial to Donald Duck, but he is the quintessential American cartoon star. And I'm not just saying that because he's impatient, quick-tempered and convinced of his own superiority...
If you want a scary X-Mas for someone, the works of Dario Argento are amongst my favorites in the horror and thriller genres. Of his supernatural films, Suspiria is widely considered his best, with Deep Red a popular choice amongst pure thrillers. Now, they're Italian horror films, so the pacing and stylization are quite different from what someone raised on American horror is used to, with much more emphasis placed on staging and tone than pure gore or spectacle. (The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, an early work, is still my personal favorite. The opening act, with Tony Musante trapped and forced to witness an attempted murder is one of the most nerve-wracking scenes I've ever seen filmed.)
If you want to add some intellectual discourse to your scary X-Mas, I still consider Men, Women and Chainsaws to be the definitive book on gender in the horror genre, with Monsters int the Closet of comparative quality when it comes to the subject of gay themes in horror.
Speaking of gay themes, no gay film fan's collection is complete without a copy of The Celluloid Closet or the companion film, even if both film and book are somewhat dated and the film in particular is a bit too concerned with not insulting some film-makers who, frankly, probably should be insulted. Beefcake is another essential film. Half documentary, half drama, it's a look at the physique magazine scene. And that was a great era for photography:
Art & Comics!
Got an arty comics snob on your list? LIfe in Pictures, a collection of Eisner's autobiographical works, is both a beautiful piece of work and a fascinating study of the early days of the American comics industry. For what it's worth, the only contemporary artist I think comes even close to Eisner's mastery is Gilbert Hernandez, and his Palomar and Luba stories from Love and Rockets are also out in amazing new editions, starting with Heartbreak Soup, and continuing into Human Diastrophism and Beyond Palomar.
If you're having a gay Christmas, Kyle's Bed and Breakfast is my favorite amongst the current crop of gay and lesbian comic strips, while Stripped provides a great overview of the contemporary gay comics scene. Man to Man offers a more historical over-view of gay photography, and Outlaw Representations is a good choice of companion.
Fun & Games!
The new edition of Talisman is great fun, and wonderfully designed, with spectacular new art all around, and a rules system that was clearly designed by Games Workshop. If you prefer games to be pixelated, Super Mario Galaxy is a no-brainer, but do give consideration to the woefully underappreciated Zack & Wiki. They'll look at you funny when they unwrap it, but they'll thank you after they play it.
For younger kids, there's this gorgeous Coliseum from Playmobil. They have to learn about bread and circuses sometime! Or, if you want to coddle them, there's this Unicorn set. Or, get both! Gladiators fighting unicorns, what kid could resist that?
And lastly, don't forget what every kid wants to find under their tree: the cheeriest little Dark Knight ever!
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, 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!"
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.
Since people seem to be in a mood to analyse Marvel lately: the only "mainstream" Marvel U "post Civil War" comics I was getting were New New Warriors and New Order (which is a cheap and easy joke, but hey, so's your Mom). And I'm not getting them anymore. They're perfectly serviceable comics, but I'm just not interested in this "going nowhere slowly" between crossovers approach so many of Marvel's titles seem to have. Now there's nothing wrong with going nowhere slowly, but it's so much better to be going nowhere fast, you know?
I'm also not particularly interested in the current state of the Marvel universe. DC, for all it's flaws, has managed to hold my interest, and that's partly because the heroes still act like good guys and the villains are clearly identifiable as bad guys. You can't quite make those distinctions at Marvel anymore. And it doesn't help that the consequences of Marvel's big events don't really get dealt with because the stage has to be cleared for the next big event. Say what you will about Countdown and its cross-overs, but you can't really argue that DC isn't thoroughly exploring the consequences of the last few event titles in those books. At Marvel they almost seem to be burying the problems created by their events under the weight of new events. "Oh, we made Iron Man a fascist, but we can't deal with that now, the Hulk's attacking. Ooops, we made the Hulk a mass-murderer, but we can't deal with that now, the Skrulls are invading. Ah, we've established that Wolverine is actually a hyper-evolved stoat and not a mutant, but we can't deal with that now because Namor has the Serpent Crown and is trying to flood the surface world..."
Say you're an American publisher. And say you have the rights to publish, in America, newer and older licensed comics that are successful outside the US, but haven't really sold well in the US for a couple of decades. And say that, about ten to fifteen years ago, there was an animated series based on the comics you have a license to. An animated series that did several loose adaptations of some of the better known comics in the series. And let's say that the animated series in question was very successful and is largely credited with revitalizing an area of the animation industry that had become moribund. It would seem like a no-brainer to do a book collecting the best stories that inspired the series, and to slap the logo of the series all over the book, right? So why would you go and put an introduction in the book that spends a good deal of time blasting the quality of the show?
Which is what Gemstone did with their Carl Barks' Greatest Ducktales Stories books. Oh, comics industry...you so stupid...
Stephen Sadowski's pencils for Superpowers #0 are very nice, but with him only drawing the preview book, I'm not sure I'm interested. I REALLY did not like Justice, and the "nostalgia for grandpa's childhood" vibe is strong on this project. Which means I'm probably holding out for Avengers/Invaders. YES! I'm a hypocrite! I complain about Marvel than look forward to one of their projects!
You know what's fun? Video games.
It's like a virtual pet, only it's Daffy Duck, and the idea is to torture him as much as possible.
It's an old-school "point and click" puzzle game, only on your console. And since it's on the Wii, you have to mime out using the object with the remote. It makes you look like a complete tool, so I recommend playing with the blinds drawn.
Lars and the Real Girl was an excellent, excellent film, very sweet and heartfelt, with just enough sadness and darkness underneath it to give it some real emotional heft.
Stuff I Will Buy, Won't Buy, And Wonder Why Anyone Buys This Week
APPLESEED HYPERNOTES TP: Really? Shirow still has an audience? CAPTAIN CARROT AND THE FINAL ARK #1 (OF 3): I bought the most recent issue of Alter Ego to read more about the history and creation of the original series...not to see Roy Thomas bitterly complaining about not being asked to write this new series. Which, honestly, is why I rarely buy Alter Ego... PRESENTS VOL 1 (MR): I used to not really care for this old-school horror manga style, but it's grown on me. The sheer bizarreness of the cartoony artwork somehow makes the end result in more horrific. AMAZING SPIDER-GIRL ZOMBIE VAR #13: *sigh* GRIMM FAIRY TALES #17 (MR) GRIMM FAIRY TALES ANNUAL #1 (MR) GRIMM FAIRY TALES VOL 2 TP (MR): I need to stop looking at T&A comics and thinking to myself "that'll never last. No one's taste is that bad." I know better... MUHYO ROJIS BUREAU SUPER INVEST VOL 1 TP: I'm buying this blind because the concept sounded like the kind of "messed up" I dig in manga. PS238 #26: Pete will be happy. REBORN VOL 5 GN: I'll be happy. GREYS ANATOMY MAGAZINE #5: Fandom must be stopped...
The topic of the impact of movie versions on comic sales came up in conversation again today. I know Mike is curious/dreading to see if the trend evidenced by Hellboy, Sin City, 300, From Hell, Constantine, V for Vendetta, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, etc. holds true for Watchmen. And I got to thinking of Alan Moore and his desire to distance himself from the film versions of his comic work. It occured to me, that honestly, Moore should be getting out there and championing the creation of a Watchmen movie. Because a huge bomb of a film that kills utterly sales of the trade collection could be the only thing that convinces DC to let the book finally go out of print so that the rights revert...
Speaking of striking while the iron is hot, wouldn't now be the ideal time to release Grendel Grendel Grendel on DVD, before this new Beowulf film kills popular interest in the story for ever and all time?
How has my life lead me to the point where I can see this:
On the same day...more or less at the same place...and not realize that this day was in any way unusual until later?
Hey, how many problems with Friedkin's statement can you spot?
Short Thoughts on This Week's Comics
APOCALYPSE NERD #5 (OF 6)-- I prefer Bagge's earlier, funnier works. His current work is just further support of my theory that you can't put your politics before your art.
COUNTDOWN TO MYSTERY #1 (OF 8)-- I anticipate Steve Gerber's take on Dr. Fate more than having to hear more whining from the usual suspects about how DC is ill-serving Jeanclipso.
DR THIRTEEN ARCHITECTURE AND MORALITY TP-- Sheer brilliance.
EX MACHINA #30 (MR)-- Dropped because, at this point, the book is quite clearly not going anywhere with it's premise or characters.
GREEN ARROW BLACK CANARY WEDDING SPECIAL #1-- If you value your sanity, or even just your basic faith in the worthiness of humanity, I suggest you avoid any message board or LiveJournal discussion of this title.
PENANCE RELENTLESS #1 (OF 5)-- Oh, 1990, I missed you.
GIRLS OF VIVID 2008 WALL CALENDAR (MR)-- Man, the things Diamond considers worthy of carrying...
This morning's mid-shower realization: zombie covers are the new pogs.
"I thought of two more reasons not to go to comic conventions." "Oh?" "Yeah, first, you know those people who show up to sign autographs because they were an extra in Star Wars or had a bit part in one episode of a Star Trek show?" "Yeah." "I wouldn't be able to resist the temptation to go up to their tables and ask them if it was worth it." "If it was worth it?" "Yeah, you know, the acting classes, the voice and diction lessons, the years of auditions, the unspeakable things done with casting directors, all to get to a point where they can barely scrape by signing autographs at glorified flea markets." "You're evil." "No, evil was the other reason I shouldn't go. Knowing me, I'd try to bring in a couple of cases of the cheapest, rot-guttiest booze I could find." "Why?" "I'd trade it to surviving Golden and Silver age artists for sketches." "..." "No, no, rummy, no drinkie until you ink that Wildcat picture." "You're going to hell." "Maybe, but you laughed."
But I Doubt Will Ever Get Made (this applies to books, comics and tv shows, too)
A woman in the big city returns to the small town she grew up in and discovers that those homely "old time" values she was nostalgic for were just cover for petty, small minded bigotries, and that she was much better off in the city.
City folk get lost in the back-country and are shocked to discover that the people who live there are not evil, inbred, mutants, cannibals, or some combination of the above.
An espionage thriller in which the government conspiracy theory guy isn't taken seriously and is in fact proven to be consistently wrong, because a conspiracy implies competence on the part of the government.
A science-fiction film with internally consistent logic. We have faster than light travel, but we can't outrun a pursuing ship? Yeah, that makes perfect sense.
A horror film in which the gay character...doesn't die.
A horror film in which a set of rules that the killer/monster must follow are established, and then the killer/monster actually follows them, and doesn't deviate from them for the sake of a cheap shock.
A romantic comedy in which the "gay best friend" of the female lead tells her to fuck off and solve her own problems; he isn't some magical pixie that can fix everything for her with the power of homosexuality.
A mystery in which the resolution does not hinge on some fact with-held from the audience in order to make the detective look smarter.
A children's film without poop or fart jokes.
A thriller about a serial killer who isn't a suave, debonair genius, always able to outsmart his pursuers, but actually acts the way real people with violent, schizophrenic paranoia act.
As part of a progressive-interview sort of thing, GayProf of the Center of Gravitas asked me five questions, to share with the world at large. So here we go:
1. We share a common interest in vintage gay porn/beefcake. Why are you drawn to these images (beyond the obvious fact that it involves men in various states of undress)?
A big part of the appeal to vintage physique and beefcake photography for me is the aesthetic quality of the material. On a fundamental level, I just enjoy looking at pictures of nicely put together men. But there's an historical appeal to this kind of material as well. Before there was really any kind of mass gay media in this or any other country, the physique magazines were around. And it was, basically, understood that the magazines were primarily put out by gay men and for gay men. The magazines and photography, now, represent a link to the times when simply being gay was illegal in every state, a link to and reminder of the difficulties gay men and lesbians have had to overcome. But it's mostly the aesthetics. When I look at gay porn now, what I see is usually either skinny, hairless boys who look barely pubescent, or steroid cases scowling angrily at the camera. I don't find either image erotic. There's a sense of naivete and innocence to physique magazines. Yes, we're being invited to gaze erotically at the subject of the photos, but it never feels exploitative or squalid. The men are fit, but not living caricatures, and they seem dosh-garn happy to be naked or nearly so. It's a much more pleasant and positive portrayal of sexuality than much of what I see today.
2. What is the thing that you miss most about working in a comic shop?
The regular interaction with the sane customers and coworkers is probably the thing I miss most. Actually, it's probably the only thing I miss. I made good friends working in comics retail, hey even made a best friend, but don't tell him I said that. So that part of the experience I don't regret at all. The pay and hours and general frustrations of working retail are not missed one bit, though.
3. Imagine that you finally went on a date with Wildcat (with Pete's blessing). What would it involve?
Well, Ted's pretty much a guy's guy, so I can't imagine that romance or wooing are his strong points. He means well, though, and he tries, so his idea of going out would almost certainly be to a sporting event of some kind, preferably something physical. Boxing, of course, being top of the list. This would be after a steak-and-potatoes type dinner at a restaurant. Nothing fancy, but not a dive either. The end of the evening would almost certainly be drinks out at a bar. And then home for the hot, hot man sex.
4. One of your posts a few months ago detailed your finding a stash of gay porn from a couple of sailors who lived near your childhood home. In retrospect, this was a formative moment for you. What are the questions that you would have for them if you could meet them today?
I'm going to go out on a wild limb and assume you mean this post. That's actually a tough one. There's all sorts of things I'm curious about. Why did they enlist? Was it to prove themselves "real men" or to get away from an intolerable small town or was it just simple patriotism? How did they find one another? The military isn't the most gay friendly employer in the first place, and in the early days of AIDS hysteria it could only have been worse. And when it became clear that, because they were being separated by new postings, how did they react? What did they talk about, that last day they had together before one had to leave?
5. Why do you worship and/or adore GayProf?
What is not to adore? A smart, witty, dashingly handsome man will always attract my attention.
I know, I know, you're all probably rending your hair, wondering why, when you snuck a glance here when your boss wasn't working, there wasn't a new post in my unofficial "Obsidian Week" series.
Well, it's like this: Pete and I both spent a good deal of the evening out to dinner with friends, as part of a "Welcome to Santa Barbara" party for our friend Robert's boyfriend Brian, who just moved here from Louisiana. After that, Pete kicked me out of the living room so that he could assemble my new desk. It's spiffy. It's built on a right angle so it fits into a corner nicely, thus freeing up a little more room in our tiny little living area. By the time the desk was finished, I was in no shape to blog, having slipped into a coma brought on by reading too many Legion of Super-Heroes comics in one sitting. That stuff will mess you up man, as well as kill any notions of the basic goodness of man you may still harbor.
"Hey, Chameleon Boy is being a real ass in this story." "How could you possibly tell?" "Because the other Legion members are commenting on it." "You mean, even by the Legion's standards, he's being a prick? Wow, he must be a total asshole in that story!" (I don't know why Blockade Boy even hangs out with them...)
Oh, there also may have been an hour or two of Super Paper Mario distracting me in there as well. I know, comics-related content delayed due to video games. How unexpected.
In any case, to tide you over until the "Why Jade had to die" post, here's Jonny McGovern in a not at all safe for work video.
A Primer Born Out of Many Years Experience Blogging
Don't Blog. Seriously, don't. Blogging has been called the CB-radio of the 21st century. That's being far too generous. It's also been compared to publishing a zine. That's simply stupid. Blogging is the pet rock of the 21st century. Inherently stupid, probably a scam, and the people who fall for it should really know better. Let's face it, ten years from now, a bald and fat Dane Cook will be on VH-1's latest talking-head nostalgia exploiting reality program talking about how everyone thought blogging was cool and everyone had a blog and then just as suddenly everyone came to their senses and got on with their lives. When your significant other asks, all innocence, if you ever had a blog, do you really want to admit to it?
Don't Link to Other Blogs. A link to another blog is a tacit endorsement of that blog's content. Think carefully about the content you've seen on other blogs. Do you really want to be associated with...that? I don't think so.
Don't Pay Attention to Your Incoming Traffic. This is very tempting, but it should always be avoided. Blogging, by its nature, is a very egotistical act, so you'll want to see who is sending readers your way. You'll want to know who thinks you're a genius. What you will discover, almost every single time, is that the people sending you readers are idiots or assholes or both. Idiots and assholes and idiot assholes like your blog. That means you suck.
Don't Host Your Own Images. Some pipsqueak on MySpace will just hot-link them.
Don't Ever Review Anything. It's not worth the hassle or the challenges to your taste or ethics. If you buy your own materials to review, you're just a fanboi, so you can be safely ignored. If you are sent materials to review by publishers or distributors, then your opinion can be ignored since you only give things good reviews to keep the free loot coming in. And if you ever have the nerve to give anything a bad review, well, you're probably just a bitter crank who doesn't get it!
Don't Linkbait. In other words, don't put up posts just to get people to link to you and talk about you. There are various ways to go about this, all of them a bad idea. You could blog about things you don't like, but that would just be sad. Or you could start a blog tracking discrimination in popular entertainments, but reveal yourself to be a xenophobic, racist, homophobic religious supremacist with every post. You could even make a habit of going out of your way to deliberately provoke other bloggers, because a good flame-war increases hit counts on all sides. The ultimate expression of this would be simply to start a blog linking to other blogs. But no one would be mad enough to do that.
Don't Allow Comments on Your Posts. The only thing remotely sadder than a blog writer is a blog reader. Do you really want validation so badly that you are willing to put up with the inevitable trolls and sycophants?