Monday, February 19, 2007

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 ├Äles du D├ęsappointement 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.


Jones, one of the Jones boys said...

Go ahead and add me. As the title of my blog amply demonstrates, I'm one pugnacious s.o.b., an ornery polecat, the stepchild of tarnation, etc. etc. etc.

BTW, whence the "controversy" over Fun Home? Dan Nadel didn't like it, and there was that goofball review on CSBG--"it's only critically acclaimed because she's a lesbian! Pride of Baghdad (!) was so much better!" Who else didn't like it?

Dick Hyacinth said...

"The stepchild of tarnation?" That sounds like something Ray Smuckles would say, which may or may not be a point in your favor. I'll have to pray on this. (BTW, who better to quote than Wimpy when seeking to express these sentiments?)

I was thinking there was more than just those two revies, but I might be wrong. I do remember that one or two other contributors at CSBG chimed in with statements of quasi-agreement. Anyway, I'll try to figure out if I'm actually remembering this correctly or if I'm just aimlessly sowing discord, as per my usual.

A couple more points while we're on the subject: (1) I might be grossly misrepresenting him, but I think Nadel is one of the more prominent examples of a critic who swings way in favor of art (he might claim "form") over writing. I can't complain too much since I have similar tendencies, but it certainly does provide context for his review of Fun Home. (2) Is Pride of Baghdad actually any good? I really dislike what I've read by Vaughan, and I'm under the impression that the most extravagant praise for PoB comes from people who actually think his other comics are insightful and well-written. And I'm always leery of lush painted art in comics. Still I'd hate to miss out on a worthwhile comic due to irrelevant prejudices.

Jones, one of the Jones boys said...

"Is Pride of Baghdad" any good?

In Pride of Baghdad, Brian K. Vaughn writes an allegorical tale of the invasion of Iraq, featuring anthropomorphic lions escaped from Baghdad zoo.

It's exactly as good as it sounds.

That said, the art is pretty, at least. And I did rather like Vaughn's Runaways (if nothing else he's done), especially the first series. He does have a knack for the shocking! Final! Page! Cliffhanger!

Dick Hyacinth said...

That description actually sounds like it might be good if it were describing something done by Tezuka or Trondheim or...well, you get the idea.

So is this a "not worth my time" or a "not worth my money" situation? Because I'm fairly certain I could check it out from the library or read it in the cafe section of a chain bookstore or something like that.

Greg said...

I love being a goofball. It's fun.

My point was not to denigrate Fun Home (and if Mr. Jones had bothered to read my ACTUAL review of it, he'd know I thought it was very good) but to wonder how it ended up on top of Time's book of the year list. I may have been wrong about some things (I can admit it) but I still contend that if it had been published in exactly the same way by AiT/Planet Lar or Oni and not by Houghton Mifflin, Time never would have heard of it. I enjoyed it a lot, but I thought there were several graphic novels better than it was, including Pride of Baghdad.

As for that book, it comes down to personal taste, which despite Joe's contention, is really all we can go on. If you don't like Vaughan's writing, you probably won't like it. I think it's certainly better-looking than Fun Home (which, in a comic, is a factor) and I think it makes its point about what it means to be free better than Fun Home makes its point about secrecy ruining relationships. Your opinion may vary. If you have access to it in the library, why wouldn't you read it?

Of course, I'm an idiot, so I don't count. Take my opinions with a huge grain of salt!

Jones, one of the Jones boys said...

Nah, Greg, I was calling the review "goofball". It's the game, not the playa!

And I actually agree that certain themes can bestow a patina of high-brow respectability on works that don't deserve them.

Dick: you'll note that my description of Baghdad explicitly mentioned the writer. Infer from that what you will.

Dick Hyacinth said...

Self-denigration will only get you so far, Mr. Burgas.

Obviously the publishing house matters--I don't think anyone would dispute that traditional publishers have better connections to the mainstream press and better penetration into places where people go to buy books.

As for whether or not I should read PoB: I have a huge, huge backlog of things to read, including a growing stack of manga, a lot of Essentials/Showcase editions I've only poked around at, a copy of Astronauts of the Future I got for Christmas, a bunch of biographical/historical stuff like the Kirby bio and the Legion Companion (yes, I'm a LSH fanboy, kind of), and Clyde Fans Volume 1, which I bought a year and a half ago and still haven't read. So I guess the question should have been phrased, "Should I make time for this graphic novel, given that I don't like the writer, don't like the style of art, and have a bunch of other stuff sitting around collecting dust; is it really that good?" It might sound like a rhetorical question, but I wanted to know if Pride of Baghdad is the sort of book which would make me re-think Vaughan. Sounds like it isn't, so I'll probably try to catch up on all that manga instead.

Jones: touche.

Guy LeCharles Gonzalez said...

IMO, Pride is notable for its amazing artwork and intriguing concept. The scripting, though, is the weak link as Vaughan frequently belabors the obvious instead of trusting Henrichon to deliver his message through the images. It's a worthy read, though far from the best work published last year, but if the artwork doesn't appeal to you and you don't like Vaughan, it's safe to say you can skip it altogether.

Joe said...

I thought PoB was good. It wasn't Vaughan's best work, and I actually tend to like his stuff: Runaways is fun superhero action with good character bits and the Escapists was really, really good comics.

It doesn't belong on any top-ten list, though (PoB, that is).

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