Read the whole thing here.
Read the whole thing here.
Yes, I’ve been re-reading Armor Wars on the subway this week.
Sims also likes Tony’s beautiful man-plumage.
Rebecca Kraatz’s House Of Sugar is a part of that genre that’s a bit of a sticky wicket for me: the autobiographical strip. Frankly, I’d grown very tired of hearing about the minor details of someone growing up and having either A) too-twee realizations about their lives or B) unearthing their secrets in a way that made them more revolting than compelling. Thankfully, I’ve come across two exceptions to this in the recent past: Fun Home and House of Sugar1. The first, of course, you already know about and it doesn’t really need any more discussion outside of read the goddamn thing. The thing most people remember about House of Sugar is the fact that Diamond refused to carry it, instead thinking that the comics market could probably do with more Lady Death variants. After pressure from the fans, Diamond recanted this decision and put it in Previews. Was it worth the fuss? Emphatically, yes.
Kraatz is separated from most autobiographical and journal-driven cartoonists by a number of factors. Her interests are unique and put on display with a great deal of charm: she’s enamored by the past and dedicates several strips in House of Sugar to seemingly-mundane things like hairstyles and actors of the 40s, pulling them off with a great deal of panache. She also is unflinching when talking about herself and the oddball incidents that we all have buried in our past. Kraatz is straightforward and brave in her narratives, managing to avoid being too twee whether talking about the cruelty of her childhood “friends” or dedicating a strip to an actress’s hands. A personal favorite of mine is the Hooked Rug Incident, probably because my own mother made those horrible things and the tool utilized seemed to beckon to me, advising self-mutilation.
I know I talk about writing and structure a lot, but Kraatz’s art is definitely worth taking notice of. It’s deceptively simple and shows that the artist is unafraid of thick lines – something I’ve become more and more fond of lately. Her work frequently captures an impression of someone better than an actual likeness would much of the time. For instance, I found Kraatz’s drawing of Robert Mitchum in one strip better than any photograph; he was an actor that looked best in motion, and she captures that odd half-moment between frames somehow and instantly sealed how I view him.
1I read the usually-quite-delightful True Story Swear To God in trade paperback format. Tom Beland needs to get another book out tout suite.
A startling truth about the BOOM! Studios writing process and a potential spoiler for the upcoming Station miniseries are wrapped into one tasty tidbit in this week’s installment of the only promotional webcomic that’s actually kind of worth reading, Nitroglycerin. We’ve got two versions of the strip up for your perusal, as always:
- You can read it below the fold at BOOM!’s website.
- You can enjoy a much larger version direct from Birdie’s archives.
Station is among this next wave of titles that I think is really going to help move BOOM! into more hands. There’s all these cinematic (of course, considering everyone on board), pulp-influenced ideas on display that I’m pretty sure are going to get new eyeballs for the company.
As it has been for the last two weeks and so shall it ever be, the Wednesday update for The Rack gives you Staff Picks. Click on through and find out what the staff at the comic book shop you really wish you went to think you should pick up this week.
Ok, maybe you’re glad Aaron doesn’t work at your local shop. I don’t blame you.
- Apparently, Cory Doctorow fancies himself a comics blogger. He’s been doing these little reviews on and off for the last couple of months since apparently discovering that the medium – gasp! – can manage to do more than show Superman crying. I do wonder, though, if he sometimes gets a bit effervescent in his enthusiasm. There’s one bit in the review for Batman: Year 100 that smacked me in the face:
This Batman is the most complex, conflicted, and darkest Batman yet.
Really? Is he that complex or conflicted, or is that just something you’d say to pique people’s interest and provide an easy soundbite? Because I gotta tell you, one of the reasons I enjoyed Year 100 is that the Batman featured was pared down the very basics. The nameless man who wears the mask is fighting against a corrupt, oppressive government because – get this – it’s the right thing to do. There’s no conflict in his mind – he simply goes out and does what he does to fight for our basic rights. The Gordon character, on the other hand, I can certainly see how he’s caught in a conundrum that provides a lot of rich character moments: a representative of the government who finds himself siding with a vigilante, someone that could make his life so much easier if he gave up what he learns. Much like the original Year One, Gordon’s a more interesting character for the choices he has to make in Year 100 than the (admittedly, very entertaining) Batman.
Edit: Apparently, the joshing tone of this bit was taken a bit too seriously by Cory Doctorow. To him, I’d like to apologize. He’s pointing people towards good comics and my issue was more with his description of Year 100‘s version of Batman that with his promoting the medium.
- Utahraptor understands Superman more than DC Comics does.
- Rachelle visited Marvel Super Hero Island and took some photos.
- Read Patton Oswalt’s “Why The Republicans Are Winning” in its original, unedited form.
The counterculture’s in permanent red shift. Double-chinned ex-heroin addicts, balding hipsters and saggy-armed ex-rave chicks (“flappers”, now that I think of it) sitting around, scowling at the “Calendar” section of the L.A. Times. Sneering at how bad TV and movies and music and President Hilton are. Checking their e-mail and seeing if anything’s been updated on salon.com. Doing the Big Disdain.
Know what the Enemy’s been doing? They’ve been awake since 8am, pumping away on the treadmill and taking Krav Maga classes and not being hungover and getting ready to carve up the world for themselves. The Republicans stole rock ‘n’ roll and outsider status. Now they’ve seized the entire goddamn day right out from under us, The Too Cool to Care. We’re doomed.
With the news that the Daredevil team of Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev would be reuniting to produce an ongoing Marvel comic based on the Halo video game franchise, I immediately declared “Thank God! Somebody’s finally heard my prayers and has decided that creators whose previous work I enjoyed would be producing a tie-in for a first-person shooter game that I enjoy only after three or four shots!” That’s when my monkey brain started working. Think of it!
- Alan Moore and Chris Sprouse’s Svetlana-X becomes Samus in a 9-volume Metroid adaptation!
- Grant Morrison and J.H. Williams III’s sure-to-be-Eisner-nominated Donkey Kong Jr, where a vine is much more than it appears!
- Joe Casey and Ashley Wood’s Pac Man, a kinetic, visceral tale of disembodied spirits and pill-popping!
- Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Quake II – sure to please indie fans while finding an audience with hardcore gamers!
- Chynna Clugston creating a sexy, quirky espionage tale based around Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow!
- Andy Runton kicking cuteness to the curb and coming up with a hardcore gangsta epic in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas!
(Yes, Sims, I know there are Street Fighter comics, along with a few others based on Capcom properties. You’re going to remind me and I’m going to have to tell you that you are the only person that buys them. OK, I buy the stuff Corey Lewis draws. Shut up.)
Blah Blah Blah.
My picks are below.
Yes, I ignore a lot of the “regular” titles.
NOV060242 SHOWCASE PRESENTS GREEN LANTERN VOL 2 TP $16.99
You know, I have this love/hate relationship with early Green Lantern, just like most of the DC Silver Age output. I hate the lousy plots, inconsistant characterization, and plagues of stupidity that these stories frequently have. They make up for all of this with this gleeful, almost machiavellian disregard for logic that turns reading the entire affair into some sort of meth-crazed fugue where, no matter how moronic things get, you have to see how it ends because, goddamn, that giant yellow dragon’s fucking some shit up.
DEC062305 DAREDEVIL #94 $2.99
It’s a highly dubious honor, but I think this may well qualify as the best single issue that Marvel’s put out all year. Brubaker has Milla retell the last couple of years of Daredevil continuity from her point of view and it’s a fascinating exercise. It’s the first time I’ve seen the writer use a female narrator since his run on Catwoman1 and the cadence and rhythm are distinctly different from his “typical” style. There’s a lot to learn from this book for people interested in writing and craft: how to modernize the romance comic and make it work, how to present a “recap” in an interesting fashion, and how to open your book to new audiences without alienating the original readers. This can be picked up by anyone who’s interested in the character and they’ll have a grasp on what’s happening without feeling cheated.
DEC062387 ESSENTIAL PETER PARKER SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN VOL 3 TP $16.99
I really like Spider-Man right up until the late 80s an awful lot. I just noticed I’ve never talked about that. There’s something about the character that just appeals to me. I wasn’t a regular reader as a kid, but reading these books now is pretty darn pleasurable. The subplots are just soapy enough and even when the action’s dull, Spider-Man, like The Thing (my nearest and dearest Marvel hero), manages to shine through a bit.
DEC063558 ACTION PHILOSOPHERS #8 SENSELESS VIOLENCE SPECTACULAR $2.95
Is there anything that can’t be solved with some of judicious use of the titular element that sets this volume of the best ongoing comics series about philosophy apart from its brethern? I say “No, not a single one.”
NOV063398 HERO SQUARED ONGOING #5 $3.99
As always, I have to inform you that if you don’t buy a BOOM! Studios comic when they become available, Ross Richie places a kitten into a woodchipper.
(That may be a lie.)
Wow, a pretty short list for me so maybe I’ll get around to my review of House of Sugar later this week.
1Thanks for the reminder in comments, Anun.
For the last month or so, I’ve had an idea about doing a weekly eMusic “things I’ve downloaded and love” piece just because, hey, it’s a great service that lets me get a ton of music on the cheap and I’ve gotten a few emails telling me to write about music more often. Combine those two factors with the fact that I’ve got a terrible habit of burning through all of my monthly eMusic downloads in a day or two and we may have a way to appease all parties involved.
(An aside: If you’re not a member of eMusic you can sign up now and receive 25 free downloads. Once you’re done with those, you can quit at any time; they’re nice like that. I’ve stuck with them for almost a year now and have consistently been impressed with the selection on offer. Like the pitchman says: I don’t sell anything I wouldn’t buy myself.)
Aaaanyway, you might be asking yourself “What makes eMusic better than iTunes and why is Kevin falling all over himself to push the service? I mean, besides the fact he’s probably using an affiliate link to earn some extra bank off my interest in music?”
I’ve anticipated your askance and here’s a few very notable items that you should pay attention to:
- It’s cheaper! Instead of doing a per-download system like iTunes, eMusic charges a flat monthly fee. eMusic Basic features 30 downloads a month and costs $9.99. eMusic Plus offers 50 downloads a month at $14.99. eMusic Premium gives addicts like myself 75 downloads per month for $19.99. In other words, individual track prices range from 27 to 33 cents instead of Apple’s $.99-per-song fee.
(If you’re thinking you won’t use all the downloads – you will. Trust me, you will.)
- No DRM. This is actually the most important thing for me, because I find it galling that record companies aligned with Apple punish me with a crippled version of a song I paid more money for. I outright refuse to purchase songs from Apple because they place everything in a proprietary format that means I can’t share music I’ve purchased. All eMusic downloads are in standard mp3 format, which means that you can burn a track to CD an unlimited number of times as well as well as share it on multiple computers and iPods. One thing I’ve noticed is that sharing unique new music creates consumers for a band and its products.
EDIT: Since Bully asked, I should note that unlike other subscription-based services, eMusic’s files don’t suddenly expire if you stop using the service.
- Smaller labels and specialty imprints get major love. Sure, you may not be able to find the latest Jessica Simpson track on eMusic, but there’s a ton of exciting bands that are waiting for you to click “Download All.” Exploring by genre really is a fantastic experience: Explosions In The Sky, Bloc Party, Of Montreal and The Boredoms on one page, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, and Sonny Rollins on another. I’m a jazz nut who’s frequently spoiled by choice on the service.
- Accidentally erase a song? You can download it again at no additional cost! Unlike the iTunes store, eMusic doesn’t punish you for having your hard drive crash.
- A smartly-tailored experience. eMusic really does have some great writers on staff helping people get the most out of their preferred genre. Michaelangelo Matos’s “The Aging Raver’s Dozen” has and pointed me to a few artists I’d only heard of, and that’s just one of the many lists created by the staff. There’s also a brand-new blog started by the service at 17Dots.com. Even if you’re not a member, it’s a better read than any commercially-minded blog has a right to be.
OK, that’s it for the sales pitch. Here’s some things for you to check out.
- Trademark, Raise The Stakes. Infectious synthpop that sounds like every record I wrote in my head when I was 17. If you liked the sound of Hugh Grant’s band PoP! in Music and Lyrics, this is a must-have addition to your collection. Fans of Boston-based bands Freezepop and Lifestyle should definitely give this a whirl.
- Tuxedomoon, Half Mute / Scream With A View. Tuxedomoon’s one of those insanely influential 80s bands that I had somehow managed to avoid actually hearing anything by until I picked up one of the International Deejay Gigolo compilations put together by DJ Hell a couple of years back. It was instant love – avant jazz and synthesizers piled on top of each other with an off-tempo groove that somehow managed to nail everything together perfectly. If you have to download just one track, make it “What Use?” – it’s pure late-night, drug-soaked madness.
- Ennio Morricone, So Sweet, So Sensual. If you’re familiar with the man’s western and epic film work, then this collection of tunes from his various romantic and comedic endeavours is certainly worth looking into. This string-laden, jazz influenced material casts a very long shadow and is perfect for inserting onto those Cocktail Party mix CDs that people ask you to make because you’re “the music guy and/or gal.”
- The Whitest Boy Alive, Dreams. As one half of Kings of Convenience and a DJ/electronic musician in his own right, Erlend Øye certainly lives up to the name of his relatively-unknown four-piece outfit. A touch of Yacht Rock meets a healthy dose of indie pop and the resulting album is extremely listenable. Dreams is the sort of album you can leave looped for three or four hours and not get sick of at all.
So, that’s it for this week. I’ll probably move this feature to Tuesday or Thursday for next week and do a lot less service-selling then.
Click for the set.
Danny at Yavin IV mourns the passing of one of the medium’s true legends in today’s edition of The Rack. Go, join him, and share your fondest memories of the third-greatest1 stretchy character in superhero comics.
1The fourth, really, if you count Metamorpho.
Civil War Remixed:
Issue 1 | Issue 2 | Issue 3 | Issue 4 | Issue 5 | Issue 6 | Issue 7
If these excellent bits of hilarity from Bird have you intrigued, you can also check out Onslaught Reborn #1 and Ultimate Power #2 with the word balloons edited to create comedy gold.
The music gets a bit tiring, but these bumpers are gorgeous.
Both clips are from Japanorama. I’m a fairly recent Mizuno convert (I’ve only picked up Pure Trance and Cinderella), but her material is stunning – goriously psychedelic and grotesque with a sensibility that knocks that whole “Gothic Lolita” trend right on its ass. In twenty years, I’m pretty sure it’s still going to feel bleeding-edge.
“[Joe] Quesada went on to say that publishing the Dark Tower comic book has been the coming out party for the comic book industry, noting that this project will be able to reach far out into the mainstream, and show that comics are a serious art form, and ‘an art form to be reckoned with.’”
I guess this means we’re forgetting that just in the last year or so, Fun Home was named Time’s Book Of The Year and that American Born Chinese was both nominated for a National Book Award for Young People’s Literature as well as winning the ALA’s Michael L. Printz award. A little closer to Quesada’s sphere of influence, there’s also the little matter of Entertainment Weekly and The New York Times bestowing multiple kudos on Brian Wood and Richard Burchielli’s DMZ. These are just a few examples because I’ve not had coffee yet, but I think you see where I’m going here.
No offense to anyone at Marvel, but I’m failing to see how pulling a Roy Thomas on a series of Stephen King novels is elevating the “art form.”
From “If Your Heart I Break—!,” from Love Romances #103,
reprinted in the Marvel Romance collection.
From The Specials.
- Dave Sim gets a book proposal:
The story is entitled Inevitable Will and is set in the future in the sear 2281 A.D. where anthropomorphic Furrs are slaves to the human race doing anything that their Masters or Mistress’ order them to do.
For the most part the story follows my single main character whom is a nameless wolf who is parted from his Mistress at the start of the story by a violent act committed by a power hungry human named Mr. Burns who will stop at nothing to convert the wolf to a timid broken slave that will obey him no matter what.
This story is by no means for anyone under the age of eighteen for the wolf is a sexual pleasure slave as well as a kitchen slave. He engages in many acts of sexual intercourse with various characters. There is no rape, no incest, and no sexual activity with minors in this story. Every character is eighteen and up. Very few are eighteen to twenty, the majority twenty-four to thirty-nine.
- That’s it. I’m going to join the Ukranian army.
- Wizard actually participates in something resembling journalism and investigates the whole Miracleman/Marvelman situation.
- Rick Veitch gets interviewed at Newsarama. God, I love his work with a silly amount of passion.
- Drew from Toothpaste For Dinner encounters Second Life:
Yesterday I downloaded something called Second Life. It is like Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, except you can’t shoot anyone, and you can’t hit people. You just walk around. There are no prostitutes, and everything costs real money, and you can’t rob anyone to get money. You have to use your credit card, with real money, to buy fake money to use in the game. It’s not actually like Grand Theft Auto at all.
Second Life is free to play, and I keep seeing people referring to it in the news, so I had to take one for the team and just dive on in. I knew it probably wasn’t going to be intriguing when I got to the signup part and couldn’t even make a one-word name. I had to use some fantasy-ass last name and I couldn’t even use cusses. The best I could do was call myself Wenis.
Wenis Swindlehurst: How do I hit people
Foxbrand Leprechaun: You can’t
Wenis Swindlehurst: I need that shit you drive.
- Goddamn, Sean Phillips can draw.
- I keep meaning to link to Scott Wegener. He’s providing the art for one of the upcoming books from Red 5 Comics, Atomic Robo. I actually bought a page from him after spending a half-hour flipping through his portfolios and trying to pick just one. (If you’re curious, I ended up with the very last item on that page.)
- Paul Curtis offers an old Kirby horror story. As puppets are a pet fear of mine (shut up), “The Dangerous Doll” was particularly creepy.
- This is going to scar me forever. (SFW)
- I am so ganking this New York Times story about magazine crews for something.
- When asked what I think is sexy, I will frequently answer with “Pan Am Stewardesses from the 60s.” That’s why Pal Ryan sent me this. This is possibly the most erotic site I’ve ever seen. (SFW)