-Some assorted thoughts; there are a few comics-related ones somewhere down there.
-Sorry I've been remiss in posting this week. Two different ordeals have been distracting me--a case of bursitis in the hip and a broken XBox 360. The former is much better now, thanks to elephantine doses of ibuprofen reducing the pain, thus allowing me to move around again (which, in turn, further reduces the pain). As for the 360, I've been pretty lucky with consoles, I guess. In my adult life, I've owned or been domiciled with the owner of about five different consoles, and this is the first one to expire prematurely--after the warranty had ended, naturally. But everything is fine now, and I'm happily playing Half Life 2 in my spare time.
And that's kind of surprising, actually. I've never been much for first person shooters, mostly because I found them really confusing. The first one I ever played, some Star Wars-related game in the mid-90s, frustrated the hell out of me because I could never figure out how to jump onto ledges. Worse yet was Goldeneye, an obsession among literally all my friends at the time (even those who didn't ordinarily play video games). After countless hours of running around in circles and being shot in the back, I finally took to reading while my friends were playing.
I'm not sure what has changed since the late 90s, but I'm now able to play these games in a much less spastic way than before. It might partly be due to the tremendous fun I had playing Oblivion (which can be played in the third person perspective, but that always feels clunky to me) and Bioshock; now that I recognize the value in first person games, I can play them unencumbered by mental blocks. Or something like that. It could also be that I'm smarter than I used to be (god, I hope that's true). Also possible: the graphics in these games are much better now, meaning that the virtual world doesn't consist of assorted polygons spraypainted with unconvincing textures. So it's easier to get my bearings now.
In any event, this has opened a new world of games which I haven't yet sampled. I'm perfectly willing to give Call of Duty a try, but I'm a little reluctant to dive into Halo. That game has always seemed like some kind of ominous membrane, the penetration of which puts you squarely into no-more-self-respect territory. It's like the difference between reading superhero comics and buying superhero merchandise; guests might view a complete set of Halo games in the same light as a three foot Booster Gold maquette or a bust of zombie J. Jonah Jameson.* I've gone three decades without drinking Mountain Dew, and I don't want to start now.
*The comics equivalent of owning Halo merchandise, BTW, is actually dressing as Booster Gold at a convention, then putting up a display case for the costume.
-Finally got the chance to read Exit Wounds yesterday. I don't have a copy of it handy, so I won't attempt to discuss it in much depth, but I didn't come away deploring its placement at the top of the meta-list. I wouldn't have pushed anything out of my personal top 10 of 2007, but I would definitely have included it in the just-outside-the-top-10 section. It was very good, and I think the mainstream-oriented reviewers acquitted itself very well in voting it the best graphic novel of 2007. It's also interesting to see how much Rutu Modan's craft has improved over the last few years; see, for instance, her story in the fifth volume of the Drawn and Quarterly anthology. I have high expectations for whatever she does next.
-I've had a couple of nice used bookstore hauls in the past couple of weeks. Yesterday I got, among other things, the first (and, to date, only American) volume of Martin Kellerman's Rocky, a book I've been meaning to buy at full price for a few months now. I also found a copy of Dick Tracy: America's Most Famous Detective, a retrospective on the character which will surely whet my appetite for IDW's series of reprints (which should be getting to the good stuff later this year, I'd imagine). I see that the author, Bill Crouch, Jr., also compiled many of the old Pogo collections which I read and loved as a teenager. I'm having a hard time finding any other information about him online, there being more William Crouch, Jrs. than one might expect. Anyone out there familiar with him or his work?
A few weeks ago I found a couple of older Peter Bagge collections--Studs Kirby and Stupid Comics. The latter is out-of-print, but you can order the former from Fantagraphics or on Amazon or maybe even through Diamond (but I wouldn't bet on it). I haven't read much of Stupid Comics yet, but Studs Kirby holds up pretty well. Studs is actually kind of reminiscent of Buddy Bradley at his worst, minus most of Buddy's occasional moments of insight. It's hardly Bagge's best work, but I found it to be very funny, cutting stuff. But then again, I consider Peter Bagge to be one of the all-time great cartoonists, and really regret not putting his Reason strips on my best of 2007 list. Remind me of this oversight in November, will you?
-And while I'm advocating stuff I really like, let me direct you to the latest Graham Annable cartoon (via Tom Spurgeon). Or actually, let me just embed it here:
It's a crying shame that Graham Annable doesn't get name dropped more than he does, because he's probably the funniest cartoonist working today. His animated shorts share the incredible sense of timing on display in his comics; you can see them all here. I've pushed Annable on here before, but I consider this reminder to be a public service. You really need to check out his work.