Wednesday, March 7, 2007

The gift that keeps on not shutting up

-Hate poll still in action. At the time I'm writing this, it's still pretty close.

-For those expecting a volcanic eruption re: everyone blogging about Captain America, I'm just not feeling it. I wish people would have been a bit less spoilery in the titles to their posts--some of us don't read the New York Daily News or visit Yahoo--but that was all rendered moot by the loudmouth in my LCS who complained about the spoilers, thereby revealing them to everyone in earshot. As for the blog entries, overall they seem to be settling into two categories: (1) You know they'll bring him back, and (2) What does this tell us about America? (There are a handful of entries in a third category, Fuck you Joe Quesada, but most eventually reveal themselves as variations on category 1.)

My analysis? The first category is obviously "duh" level material, and seems mostly driven by bloggers' apparent sense of obligation to say something about the situation. I don't really have anything to add. The second category also yields rather "duh"-ish results, typically "Marvel doesn't have a message other than money is good," with a strong undercurrent of "We trust Ed Brubaker to tell a good story". I can't argue with these sentiments either.

(For those looking for something related to the business side of things, Heidi McDonald contends that the media blitz will pay modest returns and Brian Cronin speaks about the speculator market which, against all logic, has emerged due to a fairly mild shortage problem. Anyone desperate to get your hands on this issue: I'll sell you my copy for $40, postage paid.)

-What the hell is going on with this Clifford Meth/Dirk Deppey thing? Yesterday at the Newarama Blog, Chris Mautner printed a statement from Clifford Meth (which contained all the candor and wisdom I've come to expect from him, but that's not the point). Apparently someone left some untoward comments, cause JK Parkin came in at 9:22 EST/6:22 PST to say:

"The sex lives of the folks involved really aren’t relevant here … posts have been deleted. Please don’t make me shut the comments down."

I've got a pretty good idea what this means, but I'm holding out some hope that the deleted comments were ruminations on Meth's sex life--sexy ruminations, I'm sure. But in all likelihood, it's something far more troubling--and, sadly, kind of predictable. Peter David, you're a pretty liberal guy. Couldn't you stand out on Mr. Ellison's balcony and address the hordes? Maybe speak to them in your common language, by comparing the situation to that episode of Star Trek with the guys painted black and white? Or maybe the one with Abraham Lincoln? You know best.

-Did anyone try that recipe from yesterday? It really is pretty good, I promise.

-Jacob Covey celebrates Estrus and Art Chantry (shouldn't there be an "Esquire" appended to that?) at the Fantagraphics blog. I was a huge garage-head about ten years ago--yes, it curiously coincided with my decision to go vegetarian--and I had my share of Estrus albums. This, in turn, meant I also had my share of albums with covers by Chantry. I have to be honest--I never much cared for Chantry. I think it gave all of Estrus' releases an irritatingly consistent look, which didn't help my impression that most of the bands on Estrus kind of sounded the same (Untamed Youth and of course Teengenerate were cool, though). Plus Estrus, along with Gearhead, seemed like part of a goofy tough guy/retro car culture scene which consistently rang false to me. (Side note: Was it Kozik who drew the cover to that issue of Gearhead with all the Confederate troops on the cover? That issue pissed me off--why do a bunch of guys from California (as Grant Morrison would say) feel the need to appropriate the symbols of the slavocratic Old South? As someone who actually grew up in the South (and not as the son of transplants--my ancestors arrived at Jamestown, dude, and they never left), I thought it was stupid and offensive.)

At the time, I lumped Estrus together with several other labels specializing in garage: Sympathy for the Record Industry, Telstar (which also released vintage material under the Satan imprint if I'm not mistaken, most notably comps like What a Way to Die and Get a Board), and Dionysus.* But to me, the clear alpha label was Crypt, which split its releases between active bands (like the New Bomb Turks and Teengenerate) and several legendary compilation series (most notably Back From the Grave, but also Strummin' Mental, Garage Punk Unknowns, and Sin Alley). While Estrus always had very slick packaging for its releases, Crypt's records were packaged in sleeves that I could have produced with Corel Draw back in high school (for all I know, Crypt founder/owner Tim Warren had some teenage neighbor designing his CDs for $20 a pop). While Estrus had hip guys like Chantray and Kozik providing them with art, Crypt had former Cracked editor Mort Todd drawing the covers to its signature Back From the Grave series. This was a longstanding gig for Todd--he provided cover art for all eight volumes, dating back to the 80s. Some of those covers were really dated by the time I was buying them--one of them takes aim at Boy George and Cyndi Lauper, for instance. And these covers were ugly. Many of them drew from a very limited palette of colors. Garish magenta, murky blue-ish purple, and a whole lot of white were pretty common.

And yet I thought Crypt was much cooler than Estrus because they consistently released better albums. These albums looked like shit, but that impressed me in a way; Tim Warren seemed to be saying that his records were so good that they didn't need competent design or attractive art. Estrus, on the other hand, seemed to rely on their packaging to a much greater extent. I can't say this realization caused me to develop a Crypt-like aesthetic; whenever I encounter a product with laughably amateurish packaging, I tend to question the quality of the goods inside (nobody wants to buy food with misspelled words on the label, right?). But I'm also skeptical of a product with packaging that's just too slick; I wonder what it's trying to hide.

My favorite Art Chantay cover, BTW, is Thee Headcoats Conundrum. Not the one that show up on AMG, either--I'm talking about the version I have. But that's not nearly as good as Covey's design for Fantagraphics' first Popeye volume. Even though Covey credits Chantry as a major influence on his work, I think he's clearly the much greater talent.

*Bomp/AIP were also around, but nobody seemed to be talking about them at the time. And Tim Warren was always dissing Greg Shaw, which made him seem incredibly uncool and irrelevant to me back then.


Greg said...

Did Peter David kick your dog years ago? Just wondering ...

Dick Hyacinth said...

I think I was paying Mr. David a compliment in that post, actually.