Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Hate Poll #3

Well, it was closer this time, but Mark Millar is still the Hate Champion:

That's two in a row for Mr. Millar--quite a lot of hate for one man to bear. When Millar started to pull away from Meltzer on Monday night, I realized that he needed to face a higher caliber opponent. I think I've found a candidate.

The case against Mark Millar: Gets his jollies trolling video game fans; calls an adult man "Hitchy;" probably a very chatty drunk.

The case against Joe Quesada: Considers Howard Stern a rolemodel; has made Mark Millar fairly rich (well, richer than you, at least); probably one of those guys who gets about an inch away from your face when he's drunk and you're unfortunate enough to be having a conversation with him.

Poll closes at 8 pm EST/5 pm PST, Friday.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Road, road, middle thereof

-The clock is winding down on the current Hate Poll (as I've decided to call them), but you still have a few hours to vote.

-Don't know if this has been making the rounds, but I have no idea what the fuck Larry Young and Kevin Church are arguing about here. (Related: this and this. Apparently.) I had never heard of Cory Doctorow before this, honestly, so I guess I came into this mess at something of a disadvantage. (Bear in mind (a) I don't read too many non-comics blogs and (b) I read almost no science fiction which doesn't incorporate word balloons, and even then it had better feature very pretty art.) So does Larry Young have a problem with Kevin Church? And isn't it a bit weird that Church's blog is suddenly the source of so much angst? I always considered it a nice, inoffensive place.

A couple more things: (1) Points to Young for his comments re: "snark," a word I really hate. But it's probably derived from a fairly old word, and thus cannot really be considered "fake." (2) That Patton Oswalt thing Church links to bears all the telltale signs of something written by a Gen X dude who hasn't actually spent much time with Gen Y kids. They're motivated, organized, and committed (maybe to the point of annoyance, honestly). And hey, plenty of Gen X people are just as politically active and motivated, it's just that these are the sorts of people who Patton Oswalt has (presumably) never mingled with socially. (For the record, I think Oswalt is pretty funny; compared to other contemporary stand-up comedians, he's uproriously funny.)

-While we're on the subject, this sure is a crowd-pleaser, isn't it? I should go reclaim my scanner from my wife and join the party! I'm thinking of doing a "caption this" thing, but I can't decide if I want to use Palestine or From Hell. Decision, decisions!

-Denny O'Neill checks in with the second half (or third, depending upon his whim) of his Green Lantern vs. Politics piece, and I'm sort of really disappointed. O'Neill stops well short of calling Hal Jordan a goose-stepper, partly I guess because he doesn't want to imply that either Julie Schwartz or Gil Kane supported such ideologies (do note that John Broome is conspicuously absent from this line of speculation--what is Denny O'Neill failing to tell us?). He does gesture at some pro-authoritarian post-WWII sentiment which the two might have shared, but again stops shy of actually trying to draw any conclusions. And I'm not entirely sure if O'Neill is using the term realpolitik correctly. (It's a German language special here today! Which is great, cause it gives me the opportunity to tell a joke which no one has ever laughed at. Q: How does Otto von Bismarck make doughnuts? A: With blood and custard. If any of you have event the faintest idea what I'm talking about here, please leave a comment and let me know.)

The failure of this article to say anything interesting could be easily remedied had O'Neill embraced a more poststructuralist approach. "Julie Schwartz probably wasn't a fascist" could be quickly replaced with "Green Lantern was portrayed as the ultimate expression of organized adolescent fantasy, a brightly-colored Nazi who just was 'just following orders.'" It's just a matter of embracing your inner passive voice, maaaan.

-I would think a self-professed Comic Snob would have slightly fewer positive things to say about Kevin Smith than the average comics reader, but I guess I stand corrected.

-I swear I've heard this story before. Like, repeatedly.

-This is the funniest thing I've ever read on Bully's blog. Although it's more of a head-scratcher than a knee-slapper.

-Is there a video-game vs. comics war brewing that I didn't previously know or care about? I probably wouldn't bother commenting on it, but this piqued my interest:
"Oh, and while we're on the subject, you're wrong about the "great literary works" thing. Like, silly wrong."

Is this implying that there are "great literary works" being produced in video games? I play quite a few, but I've never seen one which approached the depth of an episode of Quincy, M.E. Video games as art--sure, I could see a case being made. Video games as literature is fucking stupid, though. Maybe I should bear in mind that these are probably people who consider Stephen King the single greatest writer of all time.

I'd also like to note that reading the comments there has left me with a newfound appreciation for comics fans. Christ.

More reasons to hate Peter David

Poll! Vote!

Man, no one's saying anything interesting today. Well, there is some interesting percolation regarding the Friends of Lulu Empowerment Fund (good link roundup here), but I think I'll hold off on any commentary until things shake out a bit more. Honestly, I was worried that today would bring nothing worthy of prodding with a long stick, but then I read Newsarama's circulation of the Fantagraphics Defense Fund press release. Or, more accurately, the comments left in its wake. A few excerpts:

"We are living in an age where the term freedom of speech is very much dissected in many parts to be interpreted in an infinite ways. You can’t put an author’s name like Harlan in an article knowing that it is saying very much negative things. Your magazine is not a tabloid or an open forum to have another author to write this kind of stuff....Everyone in every entertainment field knows that if you don’t mess with Harlan Ellison then he won’t mess with you. Leave as that."


"Give money to help Gary Groth fight Ellison.

Yeah, lemme get right on that...

I like how he's now formed FOF (Friends of Fantagraphics) to bookend the EOE (Enemies of Ellison) he founded back in the 90's.

Go dig through Peter David's But I Digress archives to get a GLIMPSE of the massive feud between Groth and Ellison. Good readin'." [Fuck Peter David-DH]


" Y'know, guys, given 18,000 years, I'm pretty sure you could come up with the money yourselves..."


"Hey, thanks for telling us your own book about yourself isn't self-aggrandizing. Because a statement like that from a publisher documenting its own history is very reassuring. [Emoticon deleted as per this site's policy-DH] The suit is stupid, and Ellison should be ashamed of himself for filing it, but Fantagraphics should have known better than to court disaster by trying to get in a jab at Ellison on the cover of their interview collection. Sure would be nice if they'd finish growing up and concentrate just on publishing good material and not trying to impress people with how clever and daring they are."


"I'll always agree with the core concepts of freedom of expression, but once those ideas are expressed, the subjects of the more controversial 'expressions' are allowed to respond in a number of ways, including legal action. Both sides of this particular disagreement have pushed the civility envelope over time, so neither gets a lot of empathy from me."


"Harlan Ellison really no longer contributes anything but white noise and damage to the industry in the case of attacking Fantagraphics. This seems like a sad shout for attention from an aging starlet. Britney Spears only shaved her head; Harlan's trying to destroy one of the oldest independent comic publishers in the industry. Pathetic and exactly what you would expect from him at this point. I wish Fantagraphics the best and will continue to support their products."


"...Yeah, well, that's the problem. Li'l Harlie thinks he's the Church of Scametology now. Say anything about him, and he'll sue even if his case has no merit whatsoever, knowing full well that most people will simply settle just to rid themselves of him; the logic being that simply giving the rabid dog a bone will be cheaper than a lengthy court battle that'll cost more than it's worth, especially since Harlan couldn't pay claims won in a counter-suit if his life depended upon it(*). ...On a related note, here's one you kids might find interesting: Harlie's Wikipedia articles are watched over by a small group of "watchdog admins", who censor out any mention of bad behavior by Harlan even if it's based 100% on verifiable facts and contains nothing slanderous by any legal definition. The reason? They're not defending Harlan, they're protecting Wikipedia and the contributors from any legal harassment from Harlan on a tirade.

(*) And I doubt seriously Harlan could have a "fire sale" to help bolster his legal defense fund even if Sir Art Clarke endorsed it."

I'm convinced that most of the anti-Fantagraphics posters are either (a) whiny superhero fans who resent the implications of Fantagraphics' mission statement, or (b) Peter David sycophants. I can't empathize with the former--even when Todd McFarlane was my favorite artist, I was still interested in non-superhero comics of all types. But I guess noblesse oblige demands that I condescend to feigning sympathy. The latter are a plague on humanity, but thankfully they have all the influence they deserve.

Monday, February 26, 2007

You hate Millar! But do you hate him more than...

The weekend poll is over, and here are the results:

So it's official--you guys really hate Mark Millar. Millar jumped out to an early lead, but by Saturday afternoon Geoff Johns had gained enough hate to make it a dead heat. But then Millar pulled away; I'm not sure if anyone voted for Johns in the last 48 hours.

Anyway, given the enthusiastic response to this poll, I decided to put up another one immediately. Millar's overwhelming victory meant that there was only one person who I would dare pit him against next:

The case against Mark Millar: People are still offended by the end of Wanted; he has inspired numerous "remixes" of Civil War; the pronunciation of his name is confusing.

The case against Brad Meltzer: People are still offended by the everything of Identity Crisis; his Justice League has inspired...well, nobody really; he might occasionally be mistaken for pro-wrestling expert/MMA pseudo-expert Dave Meltzer.

Poll will be open until Wednesday at 8 pm EST/5 pm PST. Plenty of time to think about which man is more likely to raise your blood pressure to a health-endangering level.

(PS: In retrospect I realize that the last choice might be a bit redundant in its wording, but I'm not about to set up a new poll just to make the language more elegant.)

Image boys do stuff, or have stuff done to them (or their work)

-I can't believe there's going to be an Absolute Jim Lee's WildCATS. It's like the world has stopped making sense. My understanding of reality is shattered. I thought those Absolute editions were expensive to produce, which in turn meant that they would want to publish collections that people actually would buy. I thought they were mostly sold through the no-return direct market, which (I further assumed) was dependent upon retailers who were smart enough not to tie up funds in a guaranteed dust-collector like Absolute Jim Lee's WildCATS. Honestly, I thought Jim Lee had only drawn a few issues of WildCATS at all before following the lead of his fellow Image brethren and becoming more of a full-time outskirts-of-Hollywood schmooze-bot rather than, you know, an artist. Apparently I'm wrong, though--clearly there must be a reasonably large body of people out there eager to buy a presumably-longer-than-80-pages Absolute Jim Lee's WildCATS from DM retailers. I'd better go lie down.

-On the other hand, Rob Liefeld's Awesomely Blasphemous Bible (link via Graeme McMillan) makes perfect sense. If anyone other than Richard Corben is going to illustrate the Bible, it really should be Rob Liefeld. I must say, though, this reminds me of other instances in which a beloved intellectual property gets translated to another medium. Justice League Unlimited has misled thousands of children and adolescents who don't realize that Hal Jordan was plucked from the febrile mind of Julius Schwartz by God Himself, who obviously wanted some dopey white dude to be The Ultimate Real Green Lantern. Will the children of the future think that the Pharaoh pursued Moses with flying pyramids? When they watch Back To the Future II, will they look at young Marty McFly and say, "Look, just like David when he fought Mecha-Goliath!"

Rob Liefeld is an avowed Christian right? I think it just shows how awesome (PUN INTENDED!) the 21st century is that these images can be considered something that promotes Christianity (or Judiasm, considering this is all Old Testament stuff), whereas Liefeld would probably have been burned at the stake in earlier centuries.

-Blogging news: The Asorbascon is going on a monthlong hiatus, because Scipio doesn't like all the negative comments he's been receiving. Readers of this blog might remember that Mr. Scipio felt the need to address a negative comment left about him in the Newsarama Blog both there and at his own blog. This might be unusual behavior for him--I must admit that I was only an occasional reader before starting this blog--but I'm under the impression that the dude's skin is pretty thin. Might I speculate that there is but a single obsessed person leaving negative comments at his blog? And that this might very well be the same person who left the negative comment at Newarama Blog? And that this person will probably leave an anti-Asorbascon comment here as well?

-You have a few short hours--maybe just an hour, actually--to vote in the Stupendous Weekend Poll. It's looking grim for Mr. Millar.

Sunday, February 25, 2007


-Okay. I have no authority, moral or legal, to tell anyone what they should or shouldn't blog about, so consider this a heartfelt plea. Please, my friends, let us stop talking about Civil War, right now. I think 90% of the blogs I read (and I try to read a lot of them) have had something or another to say about it, even if it all was basically a variation of "it sucked, and here's why." Which is perfectly fine. We all knew that it was going to suck at some point prior to the release of #7, but the incredible hype/hubris machine at Marvel all but guaranteed that everyone would vent their spleens. And we've all done that now. Right?

So, please, I beseech you--no more long rants about Captain America's civil rights as a superhero. No more ironic "I'm with ______" banners. No more musings on Iron Man's Machiavellian tendencies. No more attempts to pinpoint the exact moment that things went wrong. And for the love of god, NO MORE "REMIXES." EVER. The first funny "remix" I read will be the first.

I'm not calling for a moratorium on all Civil War talk, just a moratorium on new blog entries (or message board threads or web site articles or whatever) specifically dealing with Civil War, at least until I can once again associate those words with gruesome battlefield surgery rather than Bill Foster's giant grave. (Exceptions: I would love to read a review of the entire series, or even just the last issue, by someone like Tom Spurgeon, or anyone who doesn't normally review or comment on Marvel/DC. Also, I'm always interested in any article written from the retailer's perspective, so that would be pretty cool, too.)

Cheer up, friends. This weekend DC and Marvel were kind enough to restock the cupboard with all sorts of fresh stupidity. Have you seen the new Thor? How about those teaser images for Countdown? We've hardly scratched the surface here. 2007 will be a great year for telling that clod Joe Quesada how he's running Marvel into the ground. Likewise, we will have many an opportunity to tell Dan Didio and his stupid mustache to go suck it. Don't kill yourselves in Februrary, stumbling over each other to make the same tired jokes--you'll need the energy to mock Planet Hulk in June.

PS: I reserve the right to talk about Mark Millar later today when the poll ends.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Breaking art critique

Watch as I completely give in to the Marvel hype machine! I need a shower. (This is all from Newsarama, BTW.) First up: art.

What a terrible, terrible layout, unless the artist wanted (a) Green Goblin's flaming pumpkin to look like a lit cigar in Bullseye's mouth, and (b) Moonstone to look like she's caressing herself in a somewhat lewd way.

Beta Ray Bill's hammer looks more like a gavel. Isn't it supposed to be some wicked engine of destruction? Isn't that what Simonson intended? This thing looks weightless and chintzy. Boooooo.

Okay, now that's pretty good. Yu is one of the best at Marvel for composing dynamic covers.

Fellow internet nerds: if you're going to express collective rage about anything, make it this redesigned Thor. He looks like some kid at the mall wearing thermal underwear under a t-shirt. And that helmet is dumb, and makes Thor look dumb.

Marvel: if you're not comfortable with the Thor of the Silver Age, just don't bother resurrecting him. A Thor who doesn't say things like "Yea, verily" is not Thor. Thor's no closer to looking like a badass here than he ever was. Unless you're prepared to make him look like a genuine stinky, hairy Viking, you need to come to terms with the fact this particular intellectual property might only resonate with losers like me.

As far as the news so far:

-I have a bad feeling that Geoff Johns and Tony Daniel might be following Mark Waid and Barry Kitson on LSH. I'm not a big fan of Kitson, but Tony Daniel is one of the great, underappreciated hacks of the 21st century. I can already feel myself becoming one of these crusty old dudes who complains that THEY'RE DOING IT ALL WRONG WHAT'S WRONG WITH THEM on message boards and blogs. Christ, shoot me now.

-The Champions sounds potentially pretty cool, mostly because Matt Fraction is writing. I just don't know if Kitson will be able to hang with him, though.

-World War Hulk:Frontline seems bad enough (and probably will be bad enough), but World War Hulk:X-Men? Seriously? Maybe Marvel will luck out and everyone will have a short memory, but I don't think anyone's in the mood for this shit in the immediate wake of Civil War. I'm looking forward to World War Hulk: The Return, in which, I don't know, the original Human Torch comes back because HE'S THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN MAKE AN EGG SANDWICH THE WAY HULK LIKES THEM.

Weekend poll

While all the cool NYC types are out boozing it up with Larry Gonick and Timothy Zahn, I've got something for those of us who are away from the action: this highly sophisticated, mature adult-oriented poll to gauge your opinion on the most important issue of the day (EDIT: I think it's working now):

The case against Geoff Johns: relies on continuity porn, his penchant for dismemberment disturbs a wide spectrum of comics readers, nobody seems to like Green Lantern.

The case against Mark Millar: an inveterate self-promoter who tends to say stupid things on his website, has all the subtlety of a jackhammer, nobody seems to like Civil War.

Polls will be open until Monday morning, assuming I still remember this by then.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Plans and schemes

-Well, Top Cow week at Newsarama is coming to a close, and what a week it was. For somebody, I'm sure--I avoided it like the plague, cause it's fucking Top Cow. But it started me thinking--wouldn't it be great if there were this grass roots critical reappraisal of the founding fathers of Image? Even if it were an artificially constructed grass roots movement? What I'm trying to say here is that I call Rob Liefeld.

-I can hardly stand the sight of the initials "NYCC" anymore, but I guess I'll be subject to at least another weekend of it. I'm ready for the avalanche of hype, but I don't know if I'm quite ready for all the tales of schmoozing and the like which I'll surely see on every NYC-located blog and news site for the next week and a half.

Hey, maybe I'll take some Paxil (or something stronger--suggestions are welcome) and head down to Chicago for this year's Wizard Extended Adolescence Intellectual Property Showcase and Creator Rodeo. Then I'll post four times a day for the next week all about my wacky, offbeat exploits. Day One: Rick Remender is an awesomely creative genius, and he was nice enough to let me buy the drinks. Day Two: The buzz on the floor is that the IFL ring girls are going to be dressed like Supergirl at the next event! Day Three: Special guest column by Rick Remender where he plays casting director for all his wonderful comics. Day Four: My interview with Gareb Shamus (really notes from a press conference, but I'll strongly imply we were hanging out in a hot tub with IFL ring girls Jean, Diana, and Kara Zor-El). Day Five: Rick Remender tells us about his favorite convention memories from bygone days. Day Six: Riding in an elevator in the hotel all day Saturday paid off, and I'll tell you which creators are taller than they look, which are shorter, which ones seem to bathe in cologne, which ones don't seem to bathe at all, and more. Day Seven: My harrowing tale of how I escaped Rick Remender's sight just long enough to get on the last bus out of town. Little did I realize he was stowed away in my luggage.

-Remember that post Bill Reed made on CSBG about how "awful" (I think that was the word) the new Justice Society is? It's gone now. The comments got increasingly heated (and thus increasingly funny), which, I suppose, explains its absence now. I don't know exactly what Reed was going for with the comment, but it mostly seems to have inspired flame-breathing retorts or smirking head-nodding. At least that's what I remember. It's another piece of evidence suggesting that CSBG seems to have two very different audiences ever since the move to CBR.

Really, it's not really a big deal--I'm just curious if someone said something that was totally batshit insane, and thus the post got pulled. In other words, if someone said something totally batshit insane, I want to know about it.

-Serious shit: Heidi MacDonald had some interesting thoughts yesterday about the intersection of writing for comics and writing for television. She suggests that DC's difficulties with Allan Heinberg might bring the Big Two's poaching expeditions to a halt (I kind of wonder if we'll ever see Heinberg write in comics again after all this, which in turn begs the question of who, if anyone, would replace him on Young Avengers). Conversely, the success of 52 (from a sales and logistical standpoint) has persuaded DC to find a permanent place for the television-style writing-by-committee-model.

I kind of want this model to fail. DC and Marvel comics are inconsistent, but I'd rather suffer a bunch of lows in exchange for a handful of highs. I want the opportunity to purchase comics which reflect the personal vision of those who are writing them, even if that personal vision reflects weird sexual hangups, or is laden with Star Trek jokes. I don't want to consume bland, inoffensive comics programmed to conform to editorial mandates (okay, "blander, more inoffensive comics even better programmed to conform to editorial mandates"). It's hard enough to find mainstream comics which allow writers a chance to flourish, but I worry that it will be all but impossible if the Countdown model succeeds. (On the other hand, it might open up the possibility of a dual-level publishing strategy, which DC has already dabbled in--kind of--with its All Star line. I would be perfectly happy if the Fractions and Morrisons of the world focused on prestige projects, while the Niciezas and Palmiotti/Grays churn out product to satiate the people who would prefer to have it Wednesday than to have it good.)

Countdown: hotter than Indian chili powder (which is much hotter than the stuff you might normally buy, believe me)

-I know this piece on the aging of superheroes in the DC universe is the sort of thing I usually mock, but I found the first half to be genuinely interesting (though ideally I would have liked a little more on the role of fan expectations in the aging of characters, a subjcet which Bondurant only touches upon briefly). Unfortunately, the second half is more "Gee, I can't wait to read [new project] because hopefully they'll do all the things I want them to do," a sentiment which DC has relied upon to sell its big events for the last two years. Marvel, on the other hand, seems to be going with the "Rubbernecking at the Carnage on the Freeway" approach when planning its mega events.

-Still, the return to the weekly format might be a problem for DC, if the responses to Newsarama's interview with DiDio and Marts are indicative of the general spirit (which, actually, they probably aren't):

"As someone who's historically been much more of a Marvel fan over the last few years, I have to admit I kind of find this frustrating. I made the commitment to 52, and I've enjoyed it for the most part, but I'm also glad to see it coming to an end, if only for financial reasons. Having another weekly series start up immediately, and apparently being fairly important for the DC Universe as a whole (and thus, potentially affecting the titles I do collect -- BoP, JSA, Catwoman and JLA under Meltzer, at least), just feels like I'm being asked to make more of a commitment than I want."

"I'm conflicted on this. You could look at Countdown AS a big event that leads into another big event -- I mean, did I read this right, or didn't DiDio say that Countdown was the staple in the fold of the DC Universe... in other words, if you read Countdown, you'll probably be picking up other titles as well. Seems to me that's standard fare for 'big events' nowadays. One central title that almost makes the reader purchase others...If that's the case, then I am extremely wary of this. Marvel is doing it with Civil War/The Initiative, and DC's been doing it for years... when does this end?"

"Well, I'm a bit conflicted as well. Part of what I loved about 52 was the particular selection of characters and writers, and also that it was FINITE. Countdown is apparently also finite, except when you think of it as an extention of 52, and start wondering what comes next. But I do rather like a weekly book (even if it turns out quite expensive) and having a book to tie the DCU together sounds intriguing enough to give it a shot."

"I gave DC a shot with 52. I've bought every week's issue. Has it been worth it?...No. My reaction to a new 52 issue every week is not, 'Sweet! Can't wait to see what happens now!'...It's more along the lines of, 'Ugh...52...I wish this was over.' There were a handful of cool things that have happened in that book, but not nearly enough to warrant a weekly issue. Most of the stories are just horribly drawn out and boring. Sorry guys, I'll pass."

"I would love nothing more than to follow an 'important' 52, but it's gonna break the bank for me, so I have to skip out. Kudos to those who can follow this. It's strange; 52 was getting me into the DCU (Marvel zombie here)... but the huge financial commitment of another weekly comic will probably help me back out of the tentative steps I have made into the DCU. Too bad for me.On the other hand, if I hear that Booster Gold and the new Question will be making regular appearances in here, I may eat my words."

To be fair, some people seem to be eagerly (or is that "heavily?") awaiting it as well:

"I am actually a bit more excited about this than I was about 52.I like that Dini is heading it up - loved his animated Universe. I like that it is reflective of the DCU but still seperate. My biggest complaint about Infinite Crisis was that it felt like 4 page check-ins with other books and not seperate. But if 52 is a year and Countdown is a year, doesn't that age a lot of the teen characters (Robin, Speedy...) really quickly? I don't see DC having Robin as a 20 year old, but if they keep moving the Universe in real time, it is logical to happen sooner than later. (that's all the complaining for that) I'm curious if it will seem like less of a jump on to people because it starts with 51 and goes down (people love their #1 issues afterall) All things concerned, I'm looking heavily at it"

Sounds like it needs to get out to a fast start. And who better to accomplish that task than Tony Bedard and Carlos Mango?

-Here's something nerdy which nobody's talking about (at least right now): costumes. It's been said that DC superheroes in the SA were little more than an assortment of costumes; if so, it's a testament to the artists who designed them. Even if the Green Lantern (Hal Jordan version) had no discernible personality for the first 10 years he was around, he at least had a cool costume--so cool that it became iconic. But I saw this, and I started thinking: will there ever be anything iconic about X-23? How many costumes has she had? If every new artist feels compelled to redesign her costume, will there ever be a visual hook we associate with her (besides the claws)? There's a reason Angel is the least popular of the original X-Men. (Okay, part of that reason is that wings/flight as one's exclusive power is pretty boring, but I still think the endless assortment of frequently lame costumes hurt Angel as a marketable intellectual property.) Related: I think the decline in Cable's popularity can be traced directly to subsequent artists' unwillingness to draw the enormous shoulder pad things which Liefeld gave him. Cable IS those shoulder things.

Responses to that open letter

Kevin Church meme watch: Over at the Hurting, Tim O'Neil makes a couple of worthwhile points in rebutting Church's "quit buying stupid comics, stupid" rant. First, he suggests that sticking with a comic through bad times is sort of like sticking with your team through the bad times. It's an interesting analogy, but I'm not entirely convinced. For most readers, "following" a bad comic still entails spending money on it, whereas fans of the Celtics can follow the team by watching them on television or reading about them in the paper/on the internet. Furthermore, O'Neil is neglecting the concept of the fair weather fan, people who stay home when the team is really bad (if you ever watched an Arizona Cardinals home game, you know what I mean). It's a precarious balance: by going to see a terrible team, you're effectively rewarding the franchise for its incompetence. On the other hand, if too many people stay at home, the team might re-locate. I wonder how much this affects comics readers--it seems like most of Church's rage is directed at the people who keep reading Justice League or core X-titles, neither of which are really in danger of being canceled.

O'Neil's second argument is much more compelling:

There's this idea at the back of these complaints that comics spending across the industry is somehow a zero-sum game. As much as some may protest, there is at the heart of the matter a core assumption that if people would just stop wasting money on crap they would spend their money instead on Nextwave / Casanova / Sleeper / Love & Rockets / Kramers Ergot. The consumers that makes up the majority of the audience for mainstream comics are not fans of the medium. They are fans of specific characters and concepts, as well as connoisseurs of a specific type of aesthetic experience that can only be gotten from sewrialized heroic fiction. If these characters and concepts ceased to be published, they would probably not continue to be comics readers.

That's basically the problem I see. If book publishers quit producing romance books, would fans of the genre move on to more literary fiction? I would suspect they would instead read old romance novels. Some might scan them and put them on the internet. It might even lead to a wave of amateur romance novelists who publish exclusively on the internet. So yes, I'm saying that, were Marvel and DC to quit publishing, it would just lead to more fan fiction.

O'Neil makes one final point:

You don't win any friends by berating stupid people...

Oh, I don't know about that.

Anyway, upon further reflection on this topic, I really wonder how many of the people keeping mediocre titles at the top of the sales charts are really disappointed. I'm not about to comb messge boards in an attempt to do some sort of statistical analysis, but I suspect the percentage of people complaining about, I don't know, Wolverine is like 4% of the total readership. And for all we know, those online complainers are downloading the comics rather than buying them. I do think there is some evidence to suggest that truly disatisfied readers are willing to drop titles--look at the sales trends on Uncanny X-Men, for instance, or the more recent Wolverine Origins. And really, if online comics fandom was really the vox populi, Peter David would still be writing Supergirl and Brian Bendis would be selling shoes and driving a '73 Dodge Dart.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Howling for my cognates (I eliminated the potential spoiler in the title)

-Now that I've read Civil War #7 (too bad it didn't come out in 2006--I'm afraid we'll forget about it when we're discussing the best comics of 2007), I decided to go ahead and read Augie De Bliek's review of it. The first section seemed like it could have been written three months ago, except that maybe then it wouldn't have all the stuff about General Hospital. The hypothetical section after that makes me question Mr. De Bliek Jr.'s sanity--children would fall asleep if forced to read a comic pencilled by Mike McKone. I'm surprised McKone isn't suffering from narcolepsy himself, considering that he's forced to look at his art all day. And trying to make sense of Peter David's 11 Star Trek jokes per page would only make them cranky. Really, though, this is a pretty hack-y type of statement from a well-respected reviewer of comics. It's not all that different from the typical message board fantasy--except that most message board denizens have zero interest in French comics. Also: I consider the Smurfs to be Belgian , thank you very much. And I would demand they be called The Schtroumpfs, since I consider that to be a much cuter, kid-friendly name.

-Sorry to return to Supergirl, but I just read this (courtesy When Fangirls Attack):

But this creation is not Supergirl. Supergirl is independence. Supergirl is old school, original grrl power. Supergirl sets her own trends. Supergirl is self-determination. She chose the shield, she chose her path, she chose her battles.

Hmmm...the legacy of Supergirl....

Yes, clearly Supergirl has been a mighty advocate for boyfriend-petrifying, cousin-marrying, no-commenting rebellion for years. BTW, if you're looking to get creeped out for no good reason, do a Google image search for Supergirl. There are all kinds of interesting, NSFW images which could provide the cornerstone for a short research paper in the field of deviant psychology. Plus it will give you some idea of who exactly is enjoying the current Supergirl comic.

-I always kind of wonder what kind of person is still buying those comics featuring intellectual properties which achieved their greatest success in the format of plastic toys in the 80s. I came one step closer to uncovering the truth yesterday after observing a transaction at my LCS. The customer in question was about 40, tall and skinny, had a haircut kind of like that "Magneto was right" kid from Morrison's X-Men (except his hair was red), wore fatigue-type pants tucked into army boots with a sleeveless t-shirt, and smelled faintly of patchouli. And he was anxious--spazzily anxious, you might say--to get ahold of all the wonderful Transformers comics which came out in the recent past. Honestly, this is not the type of person I thought was buying this stuff. From the looks of him, I thought he was in there to buy Faust or the Stephen King comic or a S. Clay Wilson collection or maybe something by Brian Wood.

-Sadly, I find these sorts of things interesting too.

-Holy mother of god, some of these people leaving comments are talking about the Superhuman Registration MacGuffin like it's a real political debate, rather than an excuse for Hercules to split robot Thor's head open (oops, spoilers). Also, anyone who is so disturbed by this that they are considering giving up comics is probably also a potential subject for a deviant psychology paper.

-When did "metal" become such a popular adjective? And what the fuck is it supposed to mean? Cause in my day, in those rare occasions it was used as an adjective, it denoted something related to Bruce Dickinson. Fucking kids.

Hey you know who was pretty good? That Richard Thompson fellow (this post really is about comics, I assure you)

-Via Newsarama Blog, evidence that Denny O'Neill may have lost his mind. Or at least he's getting a bit prickly. A fellow by the name of Matthew Yglesias made a slightly cute, exceedingly nerdy comparison between the foreign policy of the Bush administration and Green Lantern's willpower. Or something. It's not the most elegant of metaphors, but I guess it's as good as you'll get if you really want to compare current events to the ouevre of John Broome (though I have to admit I've been working up a treatise comparing the end of the Tony Blair era to the Gorilla Grodd's assault on Ape City). Anyway, Yglesias' piece prompts O'Neill to react thusly:

When the Bushies [Bushies? Aren't you a little old for that sort of name-calling, Denny?] deploy troops, the ensuing horror is genuine. Sorry if I just disillusioned anyone.

Dude, you just BLEW MY MIND. Green Lantern is fake and Bush is real? Ohhhh maaaan. That's some heavy stuff. O'Neill continues:

But I'm not ranting against it. I suspect our admiration for what's euphemistically called "action" is buried inside our genome, the remnants of a survival trait. It's City Hall, folks, and we can't fight it.

I have to disagree--it's not City Hall so much as Chinatown.

Anyway, at the end of his article O'Neill promises to discuss the dialectics of a police state hero in the era of a non-violent counterculture, which I'm sure was of great concern to the children reading Green Lantern in the 60s. (Seriously, though, I'm interested in what O'Neill has to say about this, although I'm pretty sure the answer will feature repeated references to a certain goatee-sporting fat-cat-hating hipster doofus hero.)

-I guess the proverbial Countdown cat is out of the metaphorical Countdown bag. Rich Johnston had reported that DC was planning on announcing it at this weekend's NYC convention, but then he went and released an image related to it, not to be confused with this allegedly Countdown-related image. I halfway suspect some of this is intended to steal some of Marvel's Civil-War-is-finally-finished thunder, but such speculation might betray my ignorance of how the direct market works. Also: I'm finding it hard to care about this, especially since the title implies (or is that EX-plies?) that it's all a prelude to some even more hyper-monumental EVENT TO END ALL EVENTS. That lineup of creative teams isn't exactly setting anyone's hearts aflutter, is it?

-The night before last I had a dream involving Omega Flight. Omega Flight, dudes. A comic which has not even been published yet, and which I have no intentions of buying. I can't remember all the details, aside from something along the lines of Omega Flight forming because The Man wouldn't let them call themselves the Avengers. I'd rate this dream at about 4.3 out of 10. A dream from the night before, in which Bengals coach Marvin Lewis was having his players train by fighting real Bengal tigers, is closer to average for me, a solid 6.0 (loses points because I can't remember anything else about it).

-The Geoff Johns backlash continues! (Though, to be fair, this is more than "he's too violent;" it's also "continuity porn is not good comics," a criticism nearer and dearer to my heart. Also worth noting: the incensed reader coments and Reed taking for granted that everyone knows Justice League sucks.)

Introducing the John Birchosphere

I have to start going to When Fangirls Attack more often, especially if they're going to link to me when I provide relevant content (I was wondering how Tamora Pierce found her way here). Through that venerable institution, I've discovered a mysterious, lurid, and occasionally abominable corner of the blogosphere, which I have oh-so-cleverly named the John Birchosphere. These are blogs which aren't necessarily marked by their political orientation (don't want to turn this into "godless leftist/liberal laughs at the flyover country heartland 9/11 never forget," especially since I think I live in flyover country), but a sense of weirdness, a pervasive paranoia, an air of martyrdom--get the picture?

First up, Four Color Media Monitor, brought to you by someone named Avi Green. Here's how he describes his blog:

Because if we're going to try and stop the misuse of our favorite comics and their protagonists by the companies that write and publish them, we've got to see what both the printed and online comics news is doing wrong. This blog focuses on both the good and the bad, the newspaper media and the online websites. Unabashedly. Unapologetically. Scanning the media for what's being done right and what's being done wrong.

That kind of sounds like what I'm doing here, except this dude is SERIOUS. UNABASHEDLY SERIOUS. Also, I wouldn't start a description of my blog with the word "because." Also, he has a particular pet issue, as evidenced by this entry in which he digs up a few musty old comics and plugs them into his worldview. First up, a Larry Hama Avengers story in which the UN attempts to get the team to focus on extraterrestrial threats:

Putting aside the fact that in the course of three issues here, they do deal with some extraterrestrial beings, here named the "Tetrarchs of Entropy", I kid you not, what Hama was doing there was really REALLY stupid, because the UN, as most people might know today, is one of the most corrupt organizations in the world they claim to represent. They attack America and Israel with inherent frequency for their supposed violations of human rights, yet have very little to say, if at all, about the human rights violations committed by Islamic countries and dictatorships.

Okay, a little weird, but nothing too outrageous. I might not agree, but the UN certainly isn't above criticism. But then he follows it up with this comment about an old Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League issue, featuring a montage of different newscasts from around the world, all reporting on some alien invasion the Justice League is trying to stop:

What strikes me as very troubling about the panel at the end (could that have been intentional in hopes of that nobody would notice?) is that it features a likely delegate or a reporter from the House of Saud, which is no less despicable than any alien invader that outer space could produce, and the way it's so, umm, casually featured there, in pure device-y fashion, is really appalling. Whether or not the Saudis, if that's whom that Muslim in the keffiyeh represents there, are any more dangerous than the next armada of aliens invaders from another planet/dimension, they most certainly aren't any less of an evil than said aliens are. Or, what exactly makes them any less of a serious matter than those pesky Skrulls, Kree, or Qwardians that come about trying to put us Earthlings under the yoke?

All in all, Green has really confirmed my longstanding belief that the pros and cons of Islam are best discussed through the lens of comics from the 80s and 90s, especially since Bronze Age fanatics are notoriously stable, rational people. The most shocking part: I expected this to be the work of some 19 year old, but this guy's older than me! And I'm old!

In a different (yet somehow still virulently anti-Muslim) vein, One Diverse Comic Book Nation reveals that Green has more than one axe to grind, as evidenced by this"homosexuality is a humiliating disease that has no place in my funnybooks" call to arms:
This is but part of the creeping homosexualization of comic books, and it's really insulting. Mainly because it's never depicted as a problem, and probably not even asked, if at all. We're just supposed to accept it, regardless of whether it's sane or not.

And what next, will Islam be presented in comics as the next thing we're told to tolerate and accept, regardless of what it's like?

But wait! There's more--he operates or contributes to FIVE OTHER BLOGS. And it looks like he updates all of them regularly! Holy shit, does this guy have a job? The only one of any concern to me is the Comic Book Discrimination Dossier, which is maybe satirical, but not really...actually, I have a hard time telling what he's getting at, so I'll go the cut and paste method:

Well, if this is to be considered satirical, then to put it in the words of a webmaster of another website who wrote me a nasty e-mail when I expressed my anger at an unfair attack he launched against Gail Simone, it’s because “you simply don’t put up a website implicating a trend that isn’t there and claiming there is some sexist plot behind it.” Well in that case, despoiler of the First Amendment, how about a blog instead then?

And that’s what I’d been thinking of doing for some time already, to put together a blog with a purpose similar to that of the website humorist and comics writer Gail Simone launched in 1998, where I could write profilings of various characters, ladies, and even some gents, who’d been misused in bad ways in comic books both past and present. Because maybe, just maybe, it could help in eventually solving the problem.

How often will this blog be updated? Probably not that often, but I most certainly will be doing my best to work out the best possible profilings and explanations (probably IMO, but you get the idea) of what wrongs were/are being done with them.

So now, here goes with the project. For the sake of good storytelling sans gruesome discrimination, let’s hope this can help make a difference.

Note again Green's propensity for blog descriptions that seem to be missing the first paragraph. My best interpretation: he's satirizing--something or someone? Gail Simone?--but wants to be taken seriously as a voice for those characters that have been abused by people like noted anti-Semite Grant Morrison. But after reading a few entries, I'm not sure if Green is seeking to expose sexism, prejudice against the green-skins, or anti-fanboy-ism. Or maybe he just likes to type words--especially "profilings," a word which I believe he invented.

And just to prove that he's not totally disconnected from the mainstream blogosphere, he also thinks that Geoff Johns has gotten a little too violent. Beaucoup Kevin is on his blogroll--I wonder what he has to say about people who buy comics that they don't even like? Probably a Mohammedist-homosexualist conspiracy.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Tomorrow's post today

-For those of you who just read this: uh, hello. I'm still waiting for ADD to acknowledge the seance I conducted a few days ago, so if you are him, let me know.

-This little screed is the big news in the blogsmos* today. When I read long, rambling rants like this, I wonder exactly what inspired them. Was Kevin Church lurking on some horrible message board? Did he spend a little longer than he'd like in the comics shop yesterday, inadvertently eavesdropping on the types of fans that he seems to loathe so much? I do have to say the rancor of the piece surprised me a bit--I wonder if Church's comics writing avocation has anything to do with any of this. I should point out that I'm sympathetic to a lot of what he says, but its foamy earnestness just kind of makes me snicker a little. Also, I generally agree with the comments Guy left at B@N regarding this.

*I'm tired of typing "blogosphere," so I'm trying out a few new things.

-For whatever reason, it's Top Cow week at Newsarama. Is it even possible to fill a whole week with material related to Top Cow? Would even Marc Silvestri's mother be able to make it to Wednesday before overdosing on jagged metal claw-things and bizarrely proportioned women? And speaking of bizarre anatomy: what affliction, upon first glance, seems to be plaguing this screaming woman? (HINT: Most human females have two of these.)

-This is making my head spin, partly because it's making Brian Cronin's obsessions look topical.

A meme to watch out for, someone's stepping on my toes, more

-Make sure to read the President's Day spectacular, since our crack research staff worked so hard on it, and might have exorcised some demons in the process. Or maybe they just re-awoke them. It's hard to tell.

-Memes Watch: Jeff Lester explains what makes Geoff Johns-written comics so difficult to enjoy for those of us not into evisceration. This meme is picking up steam--noting Lester's reference to it in his review, whoever it is that writes Îles du Désappointement links to an old-ish and slightly prophetic rant Alan David Doane wrote on the subject (which, in turn, quotes from comments left on a completely different blog--it's circles within circles today, friends). The Johns violence thing had previously been the source of what I would consider gentle ribbing, so it's not like this is a completely new meme. And Johns had plenty of critics, especially now that he's so obviously the Main Dude at DC right now. But now these two currents are linking up--bloggers are starting to say Geoff Johns comics are bad because of their inappropriate, egregious violence (related: Heroes & Dragons sucks). If you're thinking of hopping on this bandwagon, remember that blogosphere memes have a limited shelf life. Better use it as a talking point soon before Declarative Rabbit beats it into the ground.

-This reminds me of something out of Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver: a member of the Royal Society tries to develop a taxonomy/language for everything in the universe. Except this is about FICTIONAL PLACES OF BUSINESS IN DC COMICS.

-Our very first comment-leaver ever, Jones (One of the Jones Boys, in case you didn't know), writes a very long "non-post." A few quibbles: (1) Non-posts aren't supposed to be 250+ words, Jones--they're supposed to be links to things on You Tube or some similar site, preferably things which have little to no connection with comics. (2) I know this goes against my carefully cultivated image, but pictures of cats are perfectly fine with me, so long as the cats are cute. I'm a shallow man when it comes to cats. The Hurting gets high marks from me simply because of the numerous kitten pictures, which I enjoy in a completely non-ironic way. (3) You seem to be bordering on gimmick infringement, friend, with those comments about scans of out-of-context Silver Age comics panels. You don't want to be added to the Enemies List, do you?

-I found a used copy of Fun Home this weekend, just as I expected. I've only read the first three chapters, so maybe there's a massive decline at some point, but I'm a little shocked that there was so much controversy over the "comic of the year" talk surrounding it. Fun Home is clearly of that quality, and anyone who thinks otherwise should be kicked off the internet and forced to communicate with one another via long, rambling, hand-written letters. More on this later.

Please don't misinterpret this

You know, we don't do enough to celebrate President's Day in the DC/Marvelogosphere, which is a terrible shame. So we asked our crack research team, who we guarantee know more about history than you, to rectify this situation. What they came up with is a list of which president best corresponds to which corporate intellectual property. Hope you enjoy!

-Abraham Lincoln: Known as the father of our country, old Honest Abe only needed one nickname: the Rail Splitter. Now we've never been much for physical labor. I mean, occasionally our stepfather would force us to pick weeds on a Saturday afternoon, even though we told him that we were allergic to dirt. God, I HATE HIM SO MUCH....Anyway, we speculate that rail-splitting might have been something like swinging a hammer. So the obvious answer here is THOR.

-George Washington: Known as the father of our country, old Honest George was known for chopping down cherry trees just to prove how honest he is. Well, no superhero says "chop" quite like KARATE KID.

-Andrew Jackson: Waged war on the Indians, killed a man in a duel...sounds like JONAH HEX to us. Plus they kind of looked similar.

-Andrew Hamilton: This president is best known for appearing on a ten dollar bill, being secretary of the treasury, calling for the expansion of the federal government, and being killed by Aaron Burr. We're going to say IRON MAN.

-Aaron Burr: We'll continue our earlier line of thought and say CAPTAIN AMERICA. We guess we'll see this Wednesday--we can't wait!!!!!!!!

-Ronald Reagan: We always associate Reagan with our stupid stepfather, who made us wear a stupid Reagan/Bush '84 button to class. All the cool first graders called me us a nazi and made us eat dirt, which made our allergies act up. Our stupid stepfather had a stupid mustache like DOCTOR STRANGE, so let's go with him.

-Franklin Roosevelt: Well, Roger Stern says CAPTAIN AMERICA, so who are we to disa--wait, we already did Captain America. Uh, let's say USAGENT.

-George W. Bush: We hear he doesn't care about black people, and neither did GREEN LANTERN, HAL JORDAN VERSION. Bring back the other guy! [In all fairness to Hal Jordan and his gruesome legion of fans, I hear that he did care about the "purple skins." -DH]

-George HW Bush: Obviously must be GREEN LANTERN, ALAN SCOTT VERSION.

-John F Kennedy: Taken from us too soon. GWEN STACEY.

-Bill Clinton: The greatest player in the history of the presidents who dropped the bomb on many a phat ass. Clearly you have to go with that stud NIGHTWING. We bet they've even had sex with some of the same women! In the DCU, we mean. We know Nightwing doesn't really exist...yet!

-Warren G Harding: Known as the most handsome president, so we guess he'd be BATMAN. Well, we hear women think Batman is handsome. We can't tell, being totally heterosexual-type guys.

-Dwight D Eisenhower: We think he looks like METAMORPHO. Runner up: DON RICKLES.

-Grover Cleveland: Our greatest president, the man who freed the slaves, proponent of free silver. Clearly the best choice is SILVER SURFER.

And there you have it, every president ever, compared to a superhero. Happy Presidents' Day!!!! !!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Memes that just won't die (first in a new series)

Or Shit I Don't Care About That People Just Won't Shut Up About

-Supergirl. I just don't care. Never cared about Supergirl, never saw her as some kind of icon. I'm skeptical that Supergirl was ever an icon for young female readers like, say, Wonder Woman, but I could be wrong. I can't imagine reading Supergirl even if Alan Moore and a resurrected Jack Kirby were the creative team. Or (more realistically) Linda Medley and Richard Sala.

Maybe I'm the unusual one--it could be that the life I've lived has conditioned me not to care about Supergirl. I never cared about Superman or his supporting characters, as I was more of a Batman (and later Spider-Man) kind of kid. She was killed off around the time that I became totally obsessed with comics, so to me she wasn't much more than an entry in Who's Who. I remember watching her movie, but it didn't seem to have any effect on me whatsoever--I can't remember anything about it. I don't really identify with Supergirl on any level; the only things we really have in common is hair, eye, and skin color.

I was initially under the impression that most of the furor over the new Supergirl was from enraged Peter David fans, angry that his version of the character had been supplanted by a throwback to the Silver Age. But I guess it turns out that the new Supergirl comic is really icky. Reviews I read characterize it as dark and possibly misogynistic (as I understand it, Supergirl's raison d’être is to kill Superman, which leads her to hate herself, or something like that--it doesn't help that every issue of the new Supergirl has been written by a man). And, needless to say, portraying a teenage girl as a sex object is, um, troubling. It's certainly hasn't added to my interest in the character/intellectual property.

But it seems like most of the recent anger stems from more than just generic opposition to Supergirl as an example of everything that's wrong with the portrayal of women in mainstream comics. Instead, it seems that people think Supergirl specifically deserves more than she's getting--that her rich legacy as a character and hero for young women is being squandered. I don't understand this. Frankly, I think people are playing right into DC's hands with this, considering that interest in/condemnation of the current incarnation of Supergirl was rekindled after the Eddie Berganza piece that ran in the weekly DC Nation column. I'm not sure that Berganza got the reaction he expected, but you can't deny that Supergirl is, bizarrely, back in the spotlight again.

So, Supergirl fans, please explain to me why I should care about Supergirl specifically, rather than lumping her in with other poorly-written female superheroes?

Totally unrelated to comics

Rick James Superfreak
Uploaded by ptidavid

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Comic urban legend confirmed! (apologies to B Cronin)

I guess the rumors are true--if you and/or the people who leave comments on your blog mention K. Thor Jensen's name (or the name of one of his comics) four times on your blog, he will appear. Let's see if this power works for other people: Alan David Doane. Alan David Doane. Alan David Doane. Alan David Doane. The only thing we can do now is wait.

Oh, and just to add a little incentive: James Kochalka sucks.

Lack of material delays posting

-From the main page of Newsarama--a look at the new characters from the re-launched Justice Society of America. Guess what? At least half of them seem to be from Kingdom Come! Oh boy! I've always thought the main thrust of DC's comics should be trying to make its vast apocrypha become "true" and "real," rather than creating good, accesible stories which take advantage of their rich library of culturally resonant characters. I blame Roy Thomas for all this, BTW.

Man, there is nothing going on in the blogging world today. So I'm reduced to trolling online fora.

-At Newsarama: Is Tim Drake Gay? Shockingly, some posters are actually playing along here, even after the OP ends with this gem:
ifhe does clone conner, and even finds a way to unite his soul with this new clone body, what would robin do, manly hug his friend and fallen ally, or drop to his knees and start dry humping connners leg. what do you think, in all honnesty i can see tim drake and conner being gay or at bisexual, nothing wrong that.

I saw at least one interesting response from a poster identifying himself as gay:
I like the idea of Tim as a potential ladies man. Just because I'm gay doesn't mean I want everyone else to be gay. And I hate the fact that boys/men can't even have a deep or special friendship nymore without somebody suspecting sexual undertones. I know, in the light of things, Tim's obession with Conner's death seems a bit much, but Conner was his one true friend, the one who stands by you and listens to you, even when other romantic relationships fail. Like a brother.
And then I saw this quality piece of trolling:

he's gay, brokeback gay, plain and simple. there is a difference between mourning and missing your friend and obsessing over a dead lover, this dudes obsessing heavily.
and as for the batman robin relationship. yeah their gay to.
two words" midnight mink

-Also at Newsarama, Alex Ross' Covers induce yawns, thus giving me some hope for the comics industry:

Anyone feel like Alex Ross is just mailing it in with these JSoA covers he's been doing? I mean every single one has the same dern black background, and it's just pose after pose after pose.

Which garners some agreement:
That's one of my problems there. They're "theme" covers. Something Ross can paint without ever having to deal with what's going on inside. They are more or less "inventory" covers. Ross can just do five or ten in a row, then get back to other projects.

And some disagreement:
Man, you grab any Internet comics nerd off the messageboards and have Jessica Alba give him a hummer, he'd still be complaining about something. ANYTHING
Having broached the topic of fellatio, the thread moves on to the next logical phase: debate over whether the covers help sell issues and if they help sell the comic to the average person walking into a comics shop.

-At Comic Bloc, this somewhat depressing thread about destroyed, misplaced, and stolen comics collections. Depressing partly in the "I can't help but speculate about how this emotional wound affected the development of these folks" sense. It also includes this baffling response:
Over 100 issues of Transformers comics on one garden fire.Cheers Dad !!!

"Garden fire?" I'm not seeing how a fire in the garden destroys a bunch of comics. Maybe it's a British expression with which I'm unfamilar.

Okay, that's about all I can take. Sorry if your message board of choice was not included.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Argghh (sp?)

-I had a whole post ready to go here, but it was eaten by some sort of internet gremlins--less the Joe Dante type, more the Bob Clampett version. I don't think they were from the Kremlin, however. Let's see what I can remember....

-Greg Burgas comes through with that review of Red Eye, Black Eye he promised. I think I might have scared him out of discussing the art with my complaints about reviews, when in reality I wanted the opposite: more reviews that say something about art! It's not that hard--his review of First Moon (also at the link) is a good starting point. It's certainly better than the review of First Moon which I complained about on Saturday. In fact, Tegan's review makes a lot more sense now that I've read Burgas' review--Tegan should have gone with her original thoughts about the art!

-Since when does Tom Spurgeon provide lists of notable new releases? I'm already dependent on other people (ie, Jog) to tell me what to check out when I go to the store every week, so I'd be glad to have another resource. (The alternative would be to actually look into this stuff myself, which I'd prefer not to do due to reasons of laziness.) Actually both these guys (and Christopher Butcher too, for that matter) confirmed my suspicions that this wasn't a week which necessitated a trip to the store. Though I am liking Casanova (got on board late, waiting for the trade) and Batman (I'll just buy it next week).

-The NYCC is next weekend, thus officially ushering in Hype Year 2007. Both companies are sure to tell us more about the comics they want us to buy this summer. Rich Johnston reports that DC will be announcing its rumored Countdown series--which, I have to admit, is of some interest to me. Meanwhile, I'm sure Marvel will have many, many things to say and projects to announce in the immediate wake of Civil War #7.

The only major convention I've ever attended was the 1994 Heroes Con in Charlotte, NC. We arrived on the last day of the convention, unaware that this is traditionally get-the-hell-out-of-town day for most guests at most conventions. I got in Jeff Smith's line about five minutes too late to meet him, although someone ahead of me in line was nice enough to get a couple of books signed for me. Mike Mignola and Mike Allred (my brother's favorite at the time) were long gone by the time we got there. I did meet Bob Layton, but I think I offended him when I told him I'd like to see him do more Hercules minis (which he interpreted as some sort of diss of his editorial reign at Valiant, I guess). All in all, I had such a good time that I've never been to a convention since.

Mediocrity on a variety of fronts (with one exception)

-You know what I'm sick of hearing about already? The radioactive spider semen. It was funny and/or shocking at first, but now that everyone with a blog has riffed on it, I just don't care anymore. I'm ready to move on to whatever new comic pisses people off this week, or we could go back to talking about free review copies. Whatever.

-Wikipedia contributors run amok! First we learn, via Dirk Deppey in my case, that webcomics are being targeted for deletion (follow-up here). Then, Graeme McMillan alerts me to similar problems for Scott Pilgrim (see, I told you there was a backlash coming!).

Wikipedia is a weird community--since anyone off the metaphorical street can edit its entries, many entries are defaced in an effort to settle (or pursue) grudges and grievances. We all remember the John Byrne wikipedia fiasco, but have you ever looked at Rob Liefeld's page? But in the case of Scott Pilgrim, the deletion was suggested not by some vandal, but someone actually involved in the somewhat ominous-sounding Wikipedia Comics Project. McMillan notes that the contributor in question also targeted Top Shelf, a publisher of similar (if not greater) stature. The person responsible for all this calls himself "Emperor" (no really--I wonder if it's a reference to the icky death metal band?), and has also questioned the notability of IDW, Antarctic, Boom!, Avatar, Arcana, and Virgin. He also claims not to be responsible for the tagging himself, but that unnamed "editors" probably did it in "bunches." (See the discussion here--I don't think I'm capable of summarizing it without destroying some of its inherent wiki-ness.)

This all seems pretty bizarre to me, considering how much arcane shit makes the cut on Wikipedia. If you want to know about Ant-Man's arch-enemy Porcupine, you're in luck--there's a 1600 word essay about his history and cultural impact. There's an equally long article on Surge, a character I've never even heard of. This related article on Decimation (the thing where all the mutants lost their powers at the end of House of M, IIRC) is longer still, including numerous tables and 75 footnotes!

I won't deny some people can use this type of information--I take some comfort in knowing that there's a place where I can sort out the ins and outs of Jack O'Lantern's history (DC version as well). But I also use Wikipedia to find out about comics not published by Marvel, DC, Image, or Dark Horse. I guess I could always take it upon myself to go out and write/edit/protect these entries, but I'm not sure if I would fit in with the wiki aesthetic. I just can't decide if the Neat Stuff strips featuring Buddy Bradley are officially part of the continuity or not, and the existing entry is just asking for that sort of detail (actually, it literally is asking for it--the entry is a "stub").

Maybe the Encyclopedia Britannica people were right about Wikipedia.

-One entry that had better not be deleted off Wikipedia is the one for Achewood. Have you updated your computer yet? I have. (Better do it quick, cause I'm not sure if those links will still be there tomorrow.)

-This kind of goes on and on, doesn't it? Also, a lot of people did superhero-themed parodies of those Valentine cards we used to give away in grade school, but none of them really made me laugh. Sorry, guys.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The holiday continues

Solicitation Days continue! I just had to share this image with all of you:

Yes, I'm taking a bold stand. Tomorrow: I rail against missed ship dates!

Also, not sure what to make of the bit of text in this image:

Blade has had some wacky covers, but this is NextWave-ian.

In brief:
Best looking cover
Second place
Most disappointing (I'm a long time Silver Surfer fan, a legacy handed down from my father)

Questions--and I would like an answer for the last one

-Dave Campbell, if you're going to be posting to your blog regularly again, might I humbly request that you concentrate mostly on comics, rather than James Bond movies and the like? I just don't care about the action movie genre, and you're really the only "guy with a scanner" type blogger who actually makes me laugh.

-For that matter, does Elayne Riggs ever write about comics anymore? (EDIT: In the comments, Shane Bailey tells me to look here.)

-DC solicitations are up! Oh boy! The excitement is building! Who doesn't love Solicitation Day(s)?

Obviously retailers need these solicitations to determine what to buy, as do consumers who are forced by circumstances to buy via mail order or shops which only order Marvel and DC type stuff. But what do the rest of us get out of them? Hype, obviously--solicitations are something like the second or third step on the Comics Hype Cycle. (I haven't put enough time into studying it, but this seems to be the prototypical Hype Cycle for a Marvel or DC comic: (1) Announcement of the project at a convention (or in an interview with Quesada or DiDio on Newsarma, if it isn't a high profile project). (2) Teaser images on various websites. (3) Solicitations in Previews. (4) Interviews with the principle creator(s)--usually the writer--on CBR, Newsarama, Wizard, etc. (5) Previews of the finished product, usually 4-5 pages long, on various and sundry websites. (6) The book is actually released. (7) Immediate complaints on message boards and blogs from fans of the characters involved. (8) "Post-mortem" of the project; if it's a big deal, this is done on Newsarama. If it's a smaller book, maybe on the creator's website. If it's a really big deal, Quesada or DiDio analyze it on Newsarama. (9) The book lapses into obscurity unless it's really bad (in which case the creator(s) issue a mea culpa somewhere down the line--perhaps while in stage 4 of the Hype Cycle for a new book) or really successful (in which case it becomes the springboard for a bunch of ancillary miniseries, toys, statues, etc.). Otherwise, it becomes just another credit to list in parentheses after the creator's name when hyping a new project.)

Anyway, if you're worried that your favorite low-selling title is on the verge of cancellation (or if you're worried that a low-selling creative team is on the verge of sackage), I guess solicitations are a point of interest. And it's nice to know what older series are going to be reprinted in the near future. Otherwise, the only useful thing I can think of is studying an entire month's worth of covers all at once (especially for someone like me, whose LCS doesn't have the rack space to display each individual cover on the shelf). So yes, I do look forward to Solicitation Day(s), if for no other reason than to see what Brian Cronin is going to say about the cover art.

-Shane Bailey--sarcastic or not? (For the record, I wrote the bit about Dave Campbell before I saw Bailey's post.)

-Quick request: can anyone hit me with a link for a review of Red Eye, Black Eye? I haven't been able to find one. Failing that, can anyone who has read it tell me what they thought of it?

Monday, February 12, 2007

Scott Pilgrim backlash...will it come?

(Consider this a preventative measure.)

Evidence: Volume 3 doesn't get quite the rave reviews the previous volumes got (Although there may be some reversal of opinion as well. And apologies for that first link to Savage Critic--do a text search for "Pilgrim." And if Hibbs or Lester are reading this, do something about your archives, guys!)

Evidence: Everyone knows about it now.

Evidence: Objections to seeing it on best of the year-type lists. (He has a point, though--more on this below.)

Evidence: Brian Lee O'Malley gives a somewhat controversial interview. Responses indicate some simmering contempt.

Speculation: I'm not sure if any independent comic in the last five years has approached the hype, popularity, and success of Scott Pilgrim. If you want to read the newest volume within the first month of its release, you have to be early in arriving to your LCS, persistent, or willing to pre-order. It's been optioned for a movie. It's a gateway comic for those unexposed to manga or b&w independent comics.

But is there some resentment for its success? It's certainly a fun little book, but there are clearly so many better comics being published. Shouldn't these more deserving cartoonists get some of the spotlight? Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness was good, but was by no means the best of 2006.

Also, there seems to be a backlash against the scenester qualities of the book, particularly among younger readers who might dislike the scene which Scott and his friends participate in. (You would think this would be a problem among older readers, but I think Scott Pilgrim actually evokes a sense of nostalgia for many of us.) There are apparently criticisms that the book is too "emo." (Brief aside: does "emo" even mean anything anymore, or are comics people just completely clueless about how to use the term? The idea of an "emo" Supergirl is laughable, but I might be the only one laughing, unless my sarcasm detector is on the fritz.)

Analysis: I really do think there might be a backlash brewing, but hopefully everyone will remember that Scott Pilgrim is a potentially revolutionary comic in its potential to funnel new readers (and I don't just mean converted mainstream readers) into the world of independent/alternative comics. It's not that big of a jump between Scott Pilgrim and the Fantagraphics mainstays of the 90s (especially Love and Rockets and Hate). So when you inevitably hear someone saying that Scott Pilgrim is the only indie comic worth reading, don't take it out on Brian Lee O'Malley--use it as an opportunity to suggest some similar work. And let's not forget that every copy of Scott Pilgrim sold encourages retailers to buy other independent comics as well.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

-In making the case against opening a new comics store, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez gives the following, somewhat strange reason: Steven Grant considers the 22 page comic to be dead. Now, this does sound like a problem for publishers; as Grant notes, alternative formats have been tried and rejected by readers. (Which is too bad, because I think the anthology format might be just right for the devoted fans of second- and third-tier Marvel and DC characters; it would give them the chance to read new stories featuring their beloved Manhunter, but doesn't force the character to carry a book on her own.) But how does this affect the retailer? Graphic novel sales continue to grow, and Grant himself says, "Retailers mostly seem fine with [the 22-page format], since it semi-guarantees a steady flow of product." Maybe Gonzalez doesn't want to live in a world where he can't sell anthologies and mini-series to the people of central Pennsylvania.

-I've seen a lot of entries on the new comics weblog update thing for a blog called Make Mine Marvel. Is this place just a repository for Marvel-related PR? Does the guy (I have to assume--I can't imagine a woman would adopt the identity of Uatu) get anything from Marvel in return?

-If you're going to review comics, learn to how to say something meaningful about the art. Or include a sample of the art. Don't let "the faces were too exaggerated" be the only concrete criticism of the art in your whole review.

Which brings me to a larger concern: why do so many reviews, particularly of mainstream books by people who only (or mostly) review mainstream books, fail to address art in anything more than a perfunctory manner? I get the idea that far too many reviewers perceive art as a binary: it's either adequate or inadequate. In this case, "inadequate" means "art that forces you to stop and think about it." Common complaints include poor anatomy (Liefeld), overly "cartoony" look (Ramos, Scott), over-reliance on photo reference (Land--although I must point out he has a shocking number of fans), and unappealing style of drawing (Yu). More advanced reviewers might include complaints of confusing or disorienting storytelling (Bachalo). None of the first four should stand on their own as a legitimate criticism of art. Any of these techniques have their place in comics. As for complaints about storytelling, I often wonder if the reviewer has put enough effort into trying to figure out what is actually happening on the page, or consider that disorientation might be intentional.

Strangely, though, many of these same reviewers tend to shake this bad habit once they move beyond DC and Marvel comics. This is not to say that reviews of non-mainstream comics (and I'm defining this broadly to include DC's various imprints) are much better at considering the role of art; I still get the sense that most seem to see art as playing a supporting role to story. Even still, a discussion of art is better than no discussion at all.

What do I make of all this? First, I think it's clear that most DC/Marvel reviews are written by unabashed continuity porn fiends or latent continuity porn fiends. (BTW, who invented that term? It's one of the best neologisms to come out of the blogosphere. It's a harsh term, but this age calls for harsh terms.) I think that's why so many Marvel/DC reviews do not address the actual quality of the issue, but instead express outrage at the treatment of beloved (or quasi-beloved) characters. The quality of art is irrelevant to such people, as are most writing techniques. (Discussion of pacing="nothing happened this issue;" discussion of dialogue="the characters won't shut up, and Captain America doesn't talk like that anyway;" there is no discernible discussion of symbolism or metaphor, except to complain about Civil War being ham-handed.) The only literary technique besides plotting I ever see discussed at length in these types of reviews is characterization, and that gets right back to continuity porn most of the time.

Second, it's just harder to talk about art than it is to talk about writing. It's much easier to write a review if you think of artists as people who are illustrating the writer's ideas, since that's a fairly easy category to judge. It's much harder to talk about the interplay of words and pictures, especially if they are not working in harmony. In this way comics reviews remind me of rock music reviews. Too many rock critics focus on lyrics because lyrics are easier to write about than music. Rock critics are a step ahead of mainstream comics critics, however, because they do usually talk about the music in some way--even if it's bland descriptions like "catchy," "heavy," or "dissonant." (Mainstream film criticism has its problems as well--the focus is on acting and writing, with maybe a few vague words about the visual aspects of the film. However, it's much harder to write intelligently about cinematography, lighting, staging, set design, etc., than it is to write about comics art, since the artist has much greater control over the visual appearance of a comic than the director has over the visual aspects of a movie.)

Third, I still think there is an Image backlash, even 10+ years after its heyday. Or maybe this backlash is confined to online comics fans, considering how well books drawn by Jim Lee or Michael Turner sell. Actually, I suspect that comics fans on the pre-www internet of the early 90s were also anti-Image--it's just that nobody cared. Somewhat like today, actually.

Is this a straw man argument I've set up? Does anyone else feel the same way about the vast majority of comics reviews? I try to avoid the really awful review sites (some of which are linked to above), but there are more than a few respected internet critics (some of whom are linked to above) who seem to fall into these habits.

Back to the other stuff:

-Here's a philosophical question: Do you really need to make a post on your own blog to defend yourself against a comment someone left in response to a post on a different blog, especially after making two posts in reply to said comment which said basically the same thing as you're saying on your own blog?

-If you see anything which you think I should see, or if you want to say something which you'd prefer other people not to see, email me at the address on the sidebar.