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Wednesday, March 31, 2004

"Like when we sued the makers of BASEketball!" 

So I saw a standup for it in a movie theatre lobby a couple weeks ago.

Someone told me about a trailer for it a few days ago.

Now I finally see it online. It's called Dodgeball.

Should be funny, at least in a marginal way... I'd pay cash money to watch Vince Vaughn eat Shells & Cheese, though. Still sorta reminds me (a LOT) of BASEketball.

(Reviews for a fuckton of comics tomorrow.)

Groovy. 

Army of Darkness #1 in July.

Well, I'll buy the first one, anyway. See how it goes. Don't have a lot of high hopes for it, though.

We interrupt this broadcast to bring you an update... 

So I'm reading my comics stash for the day, which is why I've been silent. Right now I'm slogging through the fanboy masturbation festival that is Avengers/JLA, wherein a blue guy that looks like a child molester from 1978 named Krona is trying to merge two universes, or whatever.

The dialogue is of course interchangable and useless, and the people who come off most colorful are Batman (for not speaking) and Thor (for talking like the King James Bible.) The melodrama is composed entirely of cardboard emotions. Batman reminds us he doesn't like guns -- in case we forgot! -- and we get some of the same tired shit about Giant Man being a wifebeater. Blah blah blah.

None of that matters. It's an excuse for Busiek and Perez to trot out every hero, villain, and costume permutation of the above for 4 oversized issues.

Me, I don't go for that easy humor about "pervert suits" and how everything's just sort of a big fetish. But I can't ignore some of the homoerotic overtones in this book. Example (emphasis mine):

Green Arrow: Sorry, Hawkeye -- you were even better at bein' a pain in the butt than me, and that's sayin' something --

GA: -- but I'll make every one of your shafts count.

GA: Every one.

(Next Panel.)

Captain America: Don't let up!

Cap: You've got 'em in disarray -- Keep pushing! Break through their lines -- then take 'em from behind!

Cap: Keep pushing! Keep PUSHING!

There's stuff like that all over this book. This is either madness or genius, or perhaps both.

Sanity, meet Insanity. 

Per this very interesting little discussion about Dave Sim's total fucking nuthood, I find this link, a transcript of a discussion between Alan Moore and Dave Sim.

One of them has a scary grasp of sanity. The other is a whack job. No prizes for figuring out which is which.

Modified her during some nasty riots ten years ago... 

Comics are had.

Meanwhile, Shane dug up this picture of the new Batmobile for Batman Begins. It does look an awful lot like a tank, doesn't it?

Good, I needed that. 

Proof that I am not, in fact, the dorkiest person alive. Not by far.

I will admit that I find Dr. Doom an intriguing villain. I do not, however, buy into that stuff about how Lee and Kirby had all kinds of symbolism worked out for most of their creations. I'll buy the basic stuff -- the Hulk as an expression of irrepresible rage, for instance -- but, quite frankly, I don't think either Lee or Kirby gave much of a rat's ass beyond creating their high concept. Most of this stuff is applied long after, by theorists with a lot of time on their hands.

Like that guy.

Anyway: Comics now. Blogging later.

More for my benefit than yours. 

Shane's definitive list of zombie comic books.

It's so wonderful I could weep.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Oh, glorious day! 

A new Gone & Forgotten is up! (You'll want to be clicking in the dialogue balloon.)

This time, he talks about Wonder Woman:

I suppose I should get this out of the way first: I hate Wonder Woman and I'm sorry she has the vote! I've sort of documented my reasons in other forae, but chief among what I think of as Wonder Woman's many faults as a character is that she just seems sort of sloppily applied.

She's a mythical amazon, but she ends up fighting giant communist eggs and amorous space gorillas, or something called Mouse Man which was apparently a dude in a yellow mouse costume complete with fuzzy ears and nose. She's a character from Greek legend who wears an American ensemble. And, you know, whenever they ran out of story ideas, they just swiped whatever just happened in Superman last month.


Sniff. I'm.. I'm so.. so HAPPY.

(Be sure to read the G&F Archives for some good laughs. The stuff about the Superpets had me laughing so hard I was fucking crying.)

Plug! 

This post is why I love Near Mint Heroes.

And, secretly, Shane.

Ringwood the Unusual. 

This sounds pretty fantastic, actually. It had me at "horror anthology."

Can you tell I'm a horror fan?

(Thanks to Broken Frontier's J.P. Dorigo for pointing it out in his Komic Sutra column.)

It bears repeating. 

Seen it twice over now, on Fanboy Rampage and Warren Ellis's mailing list, but it still bears more repeating.

Jamie Rich is mad about the state of the industry. He's mad about the dominance of the Big Two and what they choose to do with that dominance. Don't dismiss the column offhand (like I did, at first) just because it's got some gripey things to say about the JLA.

Oh...what’s that? I can feel the rumbling now. I am a superhero hater. I obviously don’t get it. I hate the direct market. I don’t understand.

No, you’re wrong, I do understand. I understand that there are a lot of people in this industry--fans, retailers, creators, publishers--who see the full potential for the industry, for the art, and who want more. It’s like the old Smiths song--these comics say nothing to me about my life. And when you consider the return of He-Man, the X-Men putting back on their colorful costumes, or Claremont and Byrne doing JLA to be a progressive move, I’d counter that it’s you who don’t get it. This is why the real world writes comics off as trash, because that’s all we expect from ourselves.


Right on. And this, on the tail of hearing some grumblings (under "Marvel Legends") about Marvel bringing back artists and writers recognizable "if you're over thirty"...

Smell that? That was the sweet, sweet promise of the late 90's being cashed in on more of the same old shit.

Zombie soup. 

Ever since I saw Dawn of the Dead on opening night, I've been on something of a zombie kick. Broke out my copies of Return of the Living Dead, Day of the Dead, and Lucio Fulci's Zombie (or Zombi 2, for the purists) and watched all three in a row.

Reread all 5 issues of The Walking Dead.

Rediscovered a roleplaying game I'd bought but never played called All Flesh Must Be Eaten, went through the (highly enjoyable) sourcebook, had fun constructing my own zombie apocalypse and reading about the various "deadworld" ideas presented in the book.

Went to their website, read all the fiction.

Found out about Homepage of the Dead, a tribute to the Romero trilogy. The page is seriously lacking in up-to-date information, but had some great stuff, like the original Day of the Dead script available, plus the revelation that George Romero was initially meant to write and direct the Resident Evil movie, until Constantine Films ditched him and went with Paul Anderson.

Now, two nights in a row, I've had dreams about zombie apocalypses.

This is probably not healthy.

CBS to World: "We are cowards." 

So Janet Jackson made a much-ballyhooed appearance on Letterman.

Letterman, acting like a douche, kept badgering her about the Super Bowl stuff even though Jackson made it crystal clear she had no intent on talking about it. After being asked enough times, she let slip an "Oh, Jesus," which CBS deemed offensive enough to bleep.

Jackson stated, very sanely, that there were more important things going on in the world. Letterman joked that she didn't really mean that.

And Jackson's to blame for all of this? Good lord, CBS. Where'd your balls go? Did you ever have any?

I Am Cassaday 

So there's this Humanoids thing coming out with John Cassaday providing the art.

The summary is thus:

December, 1942.

The global conflict has reached a fever pitch. The Nazis are at the height of their power, but the Allies have had their first victories in Stalingrad and in the Pacific. Never has the war’s outcome been so much in doubt.

Unknown to the Allies, the Nazi’s have a secret weapon, a 10 year-old girl whose gifts could force them to their knees.


Hmm. More, from Humanoids editor Paul Benjamin:

“This is not your ordinary war story. As is clearly alluded to in John’s magnificently designed preview image, there’s a bit of a supernatural twist to things that will make this the war story to remember."

Oh. So it's a WW2 story with a supernatural edge to it. Yeah, that's not an ordinary war story at all -- it's second only to the straight war story without any elements. I certainly can't think of any other war stories out right now that have supernatural elements to them...

Maybe that's just catty, but c'mon. Taking WW2 and putting in a supernatural element is old hat for comic books. You never see a lot of that being done with, say, the Korean War or Vietnam, do you? What the hell is it about WW2, anyway? Hmm...

Road less travelled. 

The Comics Waiting Room has a few reviews up for some books that might have slipped under your radar. (Certainly slipped under mine.) Have a look.

In other news: There is no other news. There's some stuff about Mary Jane and TokyoPop and so on, but aside from a mildly growing interest in the MJ title, I really just don't care all that much.

So!

Why don't you check out some informative comments about pacing in comic books by artist Steve Leiber? Originally posted in the Fanboy Rampage comments section, Shane from Near Mint Heroes was kind enough to post it seperately to make it easy to get at. It's informative. Read it.

DO IT.

NOW!

UPDATE: Steve Lieber went ahead and posted the text on the Mercury Studios blog, too. He even complimented me, sort of!

(See, beneath all the faux cynicism I really am just an insecure fanboy.)

Monday, March 29, 2004

Supremely, ironically awesome. 

Xe, in a search for pictures of Jennifer Grey, came across a site called Jewrassic Park (hosted by TotallyJewish.com.) It's basically an exhibit of one-hit wonder stars of TV and the silver screen that have long since faded into obscurity.

Why do I care?

Because I had no idea that Supergirl was Jewish. That is so fabulous I could fucking weep.

(Yes, I am perfectly aware of the religious affiliation of Superman's creators. However, Supergirl is the absolute embodiment of Aryan good looks. Anyway.. if I have to explain the joke to you, you'll never understand.)

Ow, my HEAD. 

From Thought Balloons, a link to the Greatest Mindfuck of All Time.

Jim Davis does not draw Garfield.

Some other guy does.

I need to go suck on my fucking thumb for awhile.

Hooray! 

Cowboy Bebop game.

I rather love the series. I am not a fan of anime in general, but I really loved the hell out of that series. The movie was... dull, slow, and scored by uninspired music, which is completely unlike the actual TV show. Here's hoping the game -- if it ever sees the light of day -- is more the TV show and less the movie.

(Kudos to Wil for finding this.)

The Buy List. 

What I'll probably end up buying come Wednesday, though only a few titles are guaranteed. Some of these I am ashamed to admit.

(From the Diamond list, thanks to Johnny for the heads-up.)

DC Comics
AVENGERS JLA #4 (Of 4) $5.95
BATMAN #625 $2.25
LIGHT BRIGADE #2 (Of 4) (MR) $5.95
MIDNIGHT MASS HERE THERE BE MONSTERS #3 (Of 6) (MR) $2.95
PLANETARY #19 $2.95

Marvel Comics
PULSE #2 $2.99
THE PUNISHER #4 (MR) $2.99
WOLVERINE PUNISHER #1 (Of 5) $2.99

Miscellany
Not a damn thing.

I'm sure there'll be others that reach out to me, but with JLA/Avengers and Light Brigade costing so much, those'll probably just go into my stash box until such a time as I am filthy bloody rich.

Losers giveaway soon. Stay tuned.

I. Fucking. HATE. FRIENDS. 

GAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!

I don't particularly care that it's Drea De Matteo joining this spinoff show from Friends. Whatever, it's her career, she can flush it if she wants to.

The fact that there will be a spinoff to Friends is what gets me. And not two days after EW was postulating the doom of the sitcom because three comedies were coming to an end -- as if the combined weight of Friends, Sex and the City, and Frasier dying out was enough to tank every night on primetime TV. Puh-LEEZ.

If anything, the fact that this spinoff (Joey it's called, in accordance with network programmers' famed creativity) proves that TV will do anything it can to maintain their status quo. Anything. Fuck daring and different. Fuck the 50 quirky pitches they get every single day for something new and daring and different. Fill up that precious primetime spot with a goddamn spinoff from a show that got stale goddamn five years ago.

ARGGH!!!!!

I mean why be daring, right? Why try anything new? Why explore new genres and try out new things? That kind of thing certainly hasn't worked out for, say, HBO.

Except... they seem to clear out the Emmy awards year after year, don't they? They kick the collective networks' ass year after year, in all the same categories?

Hmm.

I wonder if there's something to that.

Well, there you have it. 

So I find out there's some comic book retailers bitching about Marvel's deal with Source Interlink, which will put their monthlies on the racks at places like Barnes & Noble. I'll go ahead and lift the money quote from Fanboy Rampage, cuz I'm gonna lift everything else from there too:

Marvel's decision to sell to Interlink to rack comics at major book store chains like Barnes & Noble and Borders is another signal that Marvel has absolutely no interest in supporting the current specialty market model, and has in fact SOLD US OUT in their continuing effort to boost their sales, and more importantly to executives, their STOCK PRICE. I find it ridiculous that we as an industry decided to move Free Comic Book Day to time with the release of Spider-Man 2, a Marvel movie, when Marvel is willing to take the bread and butter of comic book stores away and pass it off to the corporate chains.

There are so many things wrong with that statement that I could go in a million different directions of criticism. Turns out, I don't have to. All the commentors pretty much got it nailed. Special Achievement in Awesome awards go to Augie, Shane, and Bill.

Also, special mention goes to Kevin Melrose, who makes a rather brilliant little argument himself at Thought Balloons, in the comments.

Mmm.... grimmy! 

Second best comics column on the internet has a new edition up.

The best, of course, is Steven Grant's Permanent Damage.

That is all.

No.. not vengeance. 

Article about the Punisher over at Broken Frontier.

Okay, it's not so much an "article" as it is a glossy description of what the Punisher's been doing since Garth Ennis took him over. Honestly, I'm not sure what the point of this piece was; only thing it does is give a very general description of what the Max line is like. If that gets a few more people to pick it up, then I guess mission accomplished...

And then there are the parts of the article that are just plain false. I don't fault the writer for that. I fault general misconception that most people seem to be holding.

The series started off quite strong, but Garth’s disdain for super heroes started to take over. The book went from sly satire to all out parody, with over the top gross out humor and violence that didn’t serve the character, well, at all.

Sure, sly satire is always present in Ennis's works. And sometimes it ain't so sly. But I'm kind of wondering if this guy's just thinking of the "Confederacy of Dunces" arc that closed out the Marvel Knights imprint, a necessary step for Ennis to sever Frank's ties with the dudes in tights so he could get on with the more serious MAX imprint?

I certainly see no superhero parody in "Streets of Laredo," an interesting blend of Western and Texas justice. Or "Brotherhood," a 3-parter examining corruption and heroism in the thin blue line. Or how about issue #19, "Of Mice and Men," detailing Frank's last encounter with Joan the Mouse, and perhaps my single favorite issue of Ennis's entire Punisher run? It's funny, brutal, poignant, and provides real closure... all in 22 pages. When was the last time you found a writer and artist distill their greatest talents into a single issue?

And nary a cape in sight. I could pull out quite a few more examples, but you're starting to get the idea, right?

The writer is quite right in two respects, though: Born is a masterpiece, and the MAX imprint has been a grand slam every single issue. Lewis Larosa's artwork has been perfectly moody and grim, and Dean White's colors have complimented everything in somber tones. Larosa is, sadly, rather unappreciated. I'll be sad to see him go.

And really, does the Punisher belong anywhere else but on the MAX line?

Anyway: Buy the Born hardcover. Get into the MAX series; it's only three issues in. You want to see Frank Castle as the uncompromising war machine we know him to be, and perhaps get little peeks under the hood to see what makes him tick... this is your book.

Kinetic focus. 

Interesting, if fluffy.

I kinda like the part where it says Pleece knew "absolutely zilch" about the Focus line. That more or less sums up what everyone knows about the Focus line. DC took out some ads, sure, but if this is the line intent to be some kind of halfway house between the DCU and Vertigo books, you think they'd push the titles a bit more aggressively.

I confess, I have not yet read Kinetic. But I have been following Hard Time, which I think is pretty good, if not fabulous. But then I seem to be in the minority in thinking Hard Time was worth any kind of time or money at all. What gives, folks? What're your gripes?

(Also, Ms. Contino? No one says "4-1-1," ever. Never ever. Especially in print. Please stop writing quasi-hip and just fucking write.)


But then... 

You have the crossovers that just sound great anyway.

In this case, it's because it's Sam Fucking Kieth handling the duties. It sounds bloody interesting anyway, doesn't it? This isn't "Batman marries a werewolf!"

Which actually sounds like a Silver Age book.

Makes perfect sense. 

This is just dumb.

Crossovers, ideally, should only happen when the two characters (or teams) have some kind of similar resonance with each other, or with the audience. Some basic similarities, some contrasts from which the central conflict arises (apart from that tired "misunderstanding" BS), and overall some kind of point to their interaction. A greater overarching need for the characters in question to come into contact and come out of it changed.

What the fuck do Wolverine and Witchblade have in common? Besides, you know, pointy things, and the ability to sell comics? That's as stupid an idea as combining Wolverine and Batman.

Except...

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Cut it out already! 

Bit by bit, Nintendo makes the case for me buying a Gameboy SP Advance Ultra Mega Whatever-the-fuck a little stronger.

That's very pretty, right there. But I gotta ask: with comic books eating up $20-$50 a week from me, can I really afford to blow $100 on a Gameboy and then $20+ per game for it? That's another thing -- I can't believe they've got the balls to charge $20 per classic game. You know on friggin' PS2's they sell bundle packs of those games, on one CD, for $20 total. And do I really need another distraction and siphoner of disposable income?

Still. The siren call is stronger...

(Thanks to Xe for putting another nail in the coffin that is my wallet.)

Some stripping to kill your time with. 

Aside from Penny Arcade and 8-Bit Theater, I really don't visit many online comic strips. Most of them are a complete and total waste of time, uninspired trash that never updates on schedule, if at all.

Such as mine.

But then I got a little daring. Checked out the TCW rankings to see what was out there. And came across three great-tasting strips that taste great together. Or... something like that. (Plus a bonus strip link at th end, because you're my special friend.)

Elf Only Inn -- This might be kind of a niche one. Bunch of people's avatars in an online role-playing room, basically screwing around and being funny. Every stereotype is nailed dead-on: the Dragonball Z guy who can't spell and that no one pays attention to, the snotty room moderator whose whole purpose for existence is ruining everyone's fun, the chick who's a "~vampyre~ (half)," the demon guy who walks in and starts eating NPCs to prove he's awesome, etc, etc. You need to start at the beginning to get the full effect. Updates M/W/F, pretty consistently.

Least I Could Do -- Here's a novel concept: comic strip characters with sex lives! It's not gratuitous or all that immature or anything, at least in so much as a comic strip can be "mature," but it's pretty funny. You would do well to start at the first strip on this one and work your way forward. It gets funnier and funnier as it goes along. Updates Monday through Saturday.

A Modest Destiny -- You definitely need to start at the beginning with this one. The first chapter is a fantasy story, lambasting all the usual fantasy clichés in a fairly original way, with utterly charming sprite art. The story actually gets kind of involving. Then you get the second chapter, which is a space opera(ish) story totally unrelated to the first, that's not quite as entertaining but is more consistently humorous. Also gets better as it goes along, like so many strips. Updates 7 days a week.

Lore Brand Comics -- I've been reading Lore since I first discovered the Brunching Shuttlecocks about 5 years ago. You can read them in pretty much any order, as all the strips are self-contained little zingers that have no real "continuity" to them. Highly recommended. Updates about every Wednesday.

You're WELCOME!

Freakay. 

I don't really know much about this.

The teaser there doesn't really say all that much.

The art is interesting but fairly nondescript.

So why am I so bloody intrigued?

Ugh. 

Elektra movie thingy, blah blah blah, Comics Continuum.

So. Typhoid Mary. Yeah, she's a Daredevil villain, not so much an Elektra villain. Elektra really doesn't have villains, unless you count the people who kill her.

Jennifer Garner... as far as I'm concerned, she is to Elektra what a lightning bug is to a lightning bolt. Perhaps no actress in the world could capture Elektra's deadliness and allure, but regardless, Garner ain't her. Whoever they put in the role as Typhoid Mary.. could make or break that movie.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Those things are bad for you, you know. 

Gene Siskel had a very basic litmus test for the quality of a movie. He would ask a simple question, which I shall now paraphrase:

"Is this movie more or less interesting than a documentary of these same actors having lunch together?"

Looks like Jim Jarmusch is going straight for the "lunch together" part. Though the addition of Jack and Meg White seems to be a grab for coolness, this should still be pretty entertaining. I'll see just about anything with Cate Blanchett (The Greatest Actress Of Our Time) in it.

Communique from the Asylum. 

So I'm watching the old Adam West Batman movie for the first time since I was twelve. I thought I should post one of the Riddler's great riddles. Because.. it's great.

Q: What sits in a tree, weighs six ounces, and is very dangerous???

Robin: A sparrow with a machine gun.

Gordon: Of course!

...Wow.

Also: Lee Meriwether is hot.

Johnny Bacardi has it together. 

He's got his reviews for the week up, and I quote this from his review of The Losers (whom he names best comic of the week, for he is sane and wise):

Diggle deftly weaves in a lot of great character interaction. [...] It can't be an easy thing to come up with such a complicated storyline [...] with sharp dialogue and even humor in places, [...] and not have it devolve into a jumbled mess. If it was, then more people would be doing it. Artist Jock is doing a great job of giving us what we need to maximise the depth of Diggle's script, with his jagged, heavily black-spotted ink style and random perspective shots- and the cover for this issue is modestly brilliant.

Yeah, I was kind of infatuated with that cover, too.

Why the FUCK aren't you buying this book yet?

When there are no more ideas in Hollywood... 

..the remakes will walk the earth.

From Bloody Disgusting, this.

Remakes of House of Wax, The Changeling, and, for the thirty thousandth time, Invasion of the Body Snatchers. I dunno. I get wary around remakes, though I don't go into kneejerk-hatred mode like a lot of people do. The Dawn of the Dead remake was a pleasant surprise, I have to say. Still... is a House of Wax remake really necessary?

(I'd talk more about comics, but there ain't much to talk about right now. Someone, make an assassination attempt on Joe Quesada!)

Oh, yes. 

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

I'll take 88 of them.

Weekend Box Office tally so far. 

Here.

You gotta love any article that starts off with the sentence "R-rated films about Jesus and zombies have dominated the charts for over a month now."

I want to begrudge Scooby-Doo 2 for taking some cash, but I see that this movie, unlike its predecessor, is entirely marketed as a family film. Likely for children who have never heard of Scooby Doo, on top of that. If it's dumb family fare.. well, there's not enough of that on the screen right now.

So I'm only mildly irked.

Also, look at the very bottom. Compare what movies are out right now in comparison to the caliber of movies that were out this time last year: Bringing Down the House, Head of State, The Core, and Basic. Jesus, I'm breaking out in hives just thinking about it.

Irony, table for two. 

On EW, a few TV show writers discuss the potential impending doom of sitcoms as Friends and Frasier (thank god on both counts), as well as an uncertain future for Everybody Loves Raymond.

This question and its answers, and most importantly who they come from, are quite instructive:

Is the theory true that viewers want something new, or does mediocrity succeed for a reason?

Cindy Chupack (Sex and the City): Nobody sets out to make a mediocre show. You're trying to make the best of what the show is.

(Fitting. Sex and the City was never, ever a brilliant show, but with what it had it could reach a certain kind of genius.)

Phil Rosenthal (Everybody Loves Raymond): But mediocrity is insidious. It gets in even if you think you're doing something good, and you can lose your focus and suddenly you're on one of those shows that you didn't want to be on.

(A little bit of admittance that the show you work on is maybe kinda sorta a piece of shit?)

Chuck Lorre (Dharma & Greg, Two and a Half Men): It's the nature of turning out that many shows in a short amount of time. You're constantly battling against the burnout.

(Not battling hard enough, apparently. If there's a half dozen writers on your show, and they're good, intelligent professionals, or just people who like to have fun, there's really no excuse for show-wide burnout. I can name a few shows right now that haven't lost a single bit of their sparkle.)

Diane English (Murphy Brown): But there are executives who do value mediocrity because it feels safe, middle-of-the-road... They value that sort of broad sweep of ''We're not going to offend too much.'' They eliminate the highs, the lows. The risk takers suffer and have to fight to keep their unique voice. I found it very interesting that [''Significant Others'']...premiered on Bravo rather than on NBC. It's almost like the network was testing it on the smaller venue... because it's different.

(And the writer of one of contemporary TV's most intelligent sitcoms (sounds almost like an oxymoron) just flat-out comes clean about it. The networks are staffed by cowards.)

Friday, March 26, 2004

A query for the ages. 

Superman. Batman. Countless other "men" that have the word "man" right after their descriptor. What I don't get is...

Why does Spider-Man have a hyphen in his name? Don't give me shit about how he's an amalgam of the two, or whatever. Do you have to be bitten by a radioactive bug to earn the hyphen?

(I know spiders aren't bugs. Shut the fuck up.)

I could even deal with it if he was just Spider Man, no hyphen...

WHY, God! Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING!

Two questions for you, the reader at home. 

1) Can anyone tell me more about this? It sounds fantastic. And I love Mike Judge.

2) I only started re-collecting comics maybe a year and a half ago. I only started getting into buying several titles a week about 9 months ago. Since then, I've got two longboxes, one mostly filled and one mostly not. They're alphabetically sorted; the mostly-filled box is A - L, and the mostly not filled one is M - Z. I wonder, is that a universal trend? Granted, I bought about 20 issues of Hitman in one go, but I have about ten zillion issues of The Punisher, so... is this serious discrepancy more common than just me, or is it nothing more than 50/50 odds?

(Part of it probably has to do with the fact that I never buy anything with "X" or "Ultimate" in the title, I just read my roommate's.)

Romita Jr. picks at your brain. 

Could be interesting.

I still get a hell of a shock every time I see a JRjr. drawing that features a male protagonist that isn't a huge, hulking Frank Castle-alike.

Greatest spam ever. 

The contents:

I am available for domination and foot sessions in all states and locations below. Private sessions will be during the day, at either a dungeon or in my hotel room. If you are interested, email me.

I will be appearing at Frank's Chicken House in Manville, New Jersey March 29 through April 3rd. This is a great club!


No, Shane. I will not give you her e-mail address. You can just SHOW UP at Frank's Chicken House, all right?

I hear it's a great club.

I give in to peer pressure. 

Everyone else is talking about it, and it's interesting anyway.

Marc-Oliver Frisch talks about DC's sales numbers in 2004.

The Losers, Birds of Prey and The Monolith aren't where they should be, numbers-wise. Are you responsible?

And this bit, after looking at the numbers for Thundercats and Lobo Unbound:

Eighties nostalgia is dead. These numbers started out well, but the drops should have gotten smaller by now.

Thank God.

Anyway. It's kind of interesting to see what sales numbers DC supports that Marvel would never, ever prop up. I can't decide if this is bad business sense or simple bravery from DC. I amgreatful that a lot of these titles, that'd be cancelled in a heartbeat over at the House of Whatever, are allowed to run their course. Bless ya, DC, for being the conservative, stable place that you are.

So it begins. 

Andy Smith sets off the first legal exchange with CrossGen Entertainment's circus of fuckheads.

It was only a matter of time, I guess.

Money quote:

To date, there are still over 50 comic creators owed money by CGE (according to inside information the dollar amount owed has topped $300,000), many endured insult on top of fiscal injury after CGE released the art these very people created in their monthly books. Engaging in the contracting of artwork, reproduction of work for sale at a profit, while never paying those who created it and allegedly issuing threats of litigation against any who attempted to speak out against this behavior, makes the business of corporate comics as practiced by CrossGen look rather unethical and immoral.

Too bad, I kinda like Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang and El Cazador.

Batman Begins With A Fuckton of Characters 

Okay, wow.

Two MORE actors onto the already heavy list of juggernaut talent for Batman Begins: Rutger Hauer and Tom Wilkinson (splendid in Eternal Sunshine, by the way.) Either this movie's going to be 5 hours long, or we have way too many names and faces in this bad boy.

Or it's just that everyone wants in on a badass Batman flick. I can see that, too.

Fuck! 

I live in the wrong town!

Outgoing MPAA prez Jack Valenti speaks at a Q&A! Gates of Heaven! Once Upon a Time... When We Were Colored! People I Know! The General!

Fuck!

(I promise I'll get to comics in a minute.)

Greatest. Insult. Ever. 

Tony Millionaire:

I find it interesting that fuck you.

Oh yeah. That one's going in the arsenal.

Drunks are funny. 

And this time I don't mean it in a patronizing sense.

Check out Jim Treacher ripping on critics at Salon and Slate for not talking about Dawn of the Dead.

He's right, ya know. It may be a (gasp) horror film, but it has more energy, innovation, and zeal for good-fun filmmaking that's lacking from, well, the latest Lars von Trier plate of inconsequence.

Critics: here's something. If a director releases movie after movie that is appreciated by no one but critics, it isn't an important piece of work. It can have all the subtext and meaningful pauses in dialogue under the fucking sun, but if no one's watching it, it is not important.

Somewhere down the line we forget that part of what makes art art is its place and evaluation among the masses. Art is not for an elitist club of wine-sippers and limp-wristed sissies. I know, I know; the idea is that the general masses just aren't smart enough for Wim Wenders' insufferably stupid End of Violence, right? As The Man says in regards to middle America's ability to grasp "important" film: People are not dumb unless you treat them as dumb.

IFC aficionados? Sundance Channel snobs? If you endlessly chase your obscurities into the sunset and leave everyone else behind, it's no longer art. It's niche. It becomes no more "superior" to the mainstream than building model trains.

We are allowed to enjoy ourselves at the theatre, you know.

They're coming to get you, Charlie. 

Via Near Mint Heroes, I find that there's a preview up of the new art for The Walking Dead. It's here.

And Shane at NMH warns thusly:

The only thing I dislike about seeing the work is that it looks like the preview they show is a pretty major scene in the book. So even though I kinda figured it was coming, it kinda spoiled that plot point for me. View at your own risk.

Man, am I lazy today or what?

Anyway. Some of the people at Newsarama are talking like an artist shift is going to get them off the book, because they like Tony Moore so much. That's real sweet, guys, but Moore walking appears to be out of Robert Kirkman's control, and I don't see the point in penalizing him and yourself by ceasing to buy a book you enjoy so much. It's only 50% art, guys. The other half is writing, which is the reason any comic book exists, so let's have a little stick-to-itiveness, all right?

Now that came outta nowhere. 

Looks pretty good.

Rodney Bingenheimer himself. Goofy name, goofy haircut, rock legend. The presence of David Bowie and Mick Jagger in this trailer is quite enough to get me there, even though apparently they allowed Gwen Stefani to speak (which makes Jesus sad.)

Keep an eye out.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

The way it be. 

As promised, the Only Opinion That Matters:

Wanted #3 -- Moving along at a nice pace, and more entertaining with every issue. I'm not sure why everyone gets their Depends in a bunch over this, lobbing all kinds of insults about how "immature" it is, and so on and so forth. I'm not sure these folks realize that the main character is, in fact, incredibly immature. And we are viewing the story through his eyes. Brush up on those critical thinking skills, folks. This is supposed to be a fun hobby, and by god if this isn't one of the most fun books out there.

Birds of Prey #65 -- Speaking of fun. This is the only series in the world that could make me give a rat's ass about Black Canary. BC's way too straitlaced of a hero, and Oracle pretty much defines "stick in the mud," so when are we finally going to see Huntress having an equal share in the stories? Right now she's still supporting. All the same. Simone shows a growing confidence handling action stories along with her trademark dialogue, and I'm intrigued with where this story could go, if not outright fascinated.

Cable & Deadpool #1 -- Eh. You know. It's not bad. Deadpool isn't half as funny as any of the characters in Agent X (speaking of Gail Simone) in this incarnation, but I suppose it could go somewhere. And did I totally miss the reason why Cable was in that same pharmaceutical facility, or is that just going to be explained later? Anyway. Always good to see Deadpool in action.

Hellboy: The Corpse -- Talk about coming late to the game. I realize this is an old classic, yadda yadda, but as previously stated I am something of an ignorant dullard when it comes to Hellboy. There's little I could say about the comic or Mignola that hasn't already been said over and over again since 1996, so I'll just say this man handles occult weirdness with such dry, deft wit and respect that I can't help but be hooked. A dark ruby wine, or however Alan Moore put it...

Freaks of the Heartland #2 -- The first two issues could have been covered in one issue. I'm waiting to be truly impressed, Steve Niles. The only reason I'm going to keep goign with this series is because Greg Ruth's art is so gorgeous I feel like I could fall right into it. The art, so far, is the only thing that has set the mood for this mini so effectively.

Lone #5 -- Still one of the weirdest books out there, and still the most innovative. I think what we see here is a creative team truly in love with their story, characters, and setting, but not so beholden to them that they don't keep generating new concepts and ideas. Where the hell else have you seen a biker gang of glowing green skeletons rob a train, or a poker game involving a gorilla with bionic laser vision? Just typing that out gives me a grin.

Patient Zero #1 -- I have no idea what the hell happened here, and I'm not going to stick around to find out. The art I previously found purdy is, in fact, just murky and undefined. The writer's essay about his inspiration for the series is enlightening and interesting, but his execution is, shall we say, flawed. Sorry.

The Losers #10 -- Usual praise. Diggle and Jock have an energy about them that comes through in every frame, in dialogue or in action sequences. What's a refreshing breath of air is the Aisha character -- she's a "hardcore chick," but not in the usual comic book sense that she shoots guys while her tits keep popping out of her halter. No. She's a soldier. A soldier more aware of the world she moves in than anyone else in the Losers, with the exception of their leader.

And I think, in order to promote The Losers more, I will run some kind of.. giveaway, or contest. Stay tuned.

When's the flooding start? 

Okay, this. From EW.

A release date for Spider-Man 3.

Okay.. guys.. I realize the first movie did very well and all? And that the sequel will doubtless also do well? Though you are fucking NAIVE if you think it'll match the previous movie's success..

But the second movie isn't even OUT YET and you're announcing plans for the third. Even worse, the final line in the article is this:

''Spider-Man 4,'' however, still has no release date.

Okay, this is beyond cockiness. This is beyond hubris. This is WAY beyond putting the cart in front of the horses.

This is Tower of Babel-style arrogance. I mean, sure, you can assume the sky is only going to get sunnier forever and ever, that each new movie will bring in the Big Bux and greater critical acclaim and this can just go on forever and ever, huh? No need to be a little more conservative with your funding dollar, no need to maybe weather the second movie before moving on to the third.

Yeah. Ask the Batman people how that sort of thing works out.

You are going to glut the market, goddammit. Every single B-level comic character you hand a movie to, you harden the audience that much more. You're shooting yourselves in the fucking foot and you're LAUGHING while you do it.

Morons. I'm going to go break something important to me.

Stay tuned. 

Thursday, like Wednesday, is one of those annoying days where I kind of have a lot to do in the afternoon that takes me away from blogging greatness.

Give it a few hours, and you'll be hearing about what I thought of yesterday's comics, plus the usual Wonderlicious(tm) Excitement that I bring to the table EVERY DAMN DAY OF YOUR MISERABLE LIFE.

See ya then, pardner.

!!!! 

Glee!

I think I'm going to go ahead and devote my life and soul to Ennis. Just get it over with, ya know?

Take that, vegan cultists! 

The Least Harm Principle Suggests that Humans Should Eat Beef, Lamb, Dairy, not a Vegan Diet.

HA! The LHP suggested by vegan vaginas can actually be used to prove that a diet based on beef, lamb, and pork actually SAVES MORE ANIMAL LIVES than a vegan diet.

Hee hee!

(No disrespect, ADD. You're not a pussy, just perhaps misguided. I read Fast Food Nation too, but I still loves me some cheeseburgers.)

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Hear, hear. 

(Or is that "here, here"?)

Tycho from Penny Arcade in defense of Kevin Smith, over the flak Smith's received for Jersey Girl, mostly from people who haven't seen the movie:

Apparently Kevin Smith has sold out though, claims the chorus, for producing a film which does not refer to oral sex. The movie may be bad for any number of reasons, I honestly don't know - like many other people I have not seen it. I don't know that I ever need to. However, I'm not sure what selling out has to do with anything. I have a feeling that Kevin Smith pretty much does whatever the fuck Kevin Smith wants to do. Maybe you haven't seen Jay And Silent Fucking Bob Strike Back, where he and his friends just kind of fucked around while the cameras rolled. Oh yeah, he's a part of the fucking machine.

I have a feeling he's getting older and that he would like to make a different kind of movie than he has typically done. Yet it falls upon people who don't know the man to determine his secret heart via their infallible methods of detection and find him wanting.


Couldn't have said it better myself. Get your thumbs out of your asses, people.

Erik Larsen speaks clever. 

I'm not going to bother copying and pasting, so just check out this quote from Larsen as cited at Fanboy Rampage.

Some harsh realities in there, but they ARE realities. If a comic book has poor numbers, the publisher has every right to shitcan it and move on. You want a book to avoid cancellation? BUY IT. Spread the word. Evangelize. Don't gripe at the publisher for watching their own ass; they have to make a profit somehow.

That being said:

BUY THE LOSERS, DAMMIT!

Best columnist in comics. 

New Permanent Damage up over at CBR, by Steven Grant (naturally.)

The most succinct and comprehensive analysis of the Marvel/DC problem I've seen to date.

Money quote, though, comes from a letter Grant received:

So yeah, I have a hard time getting into DC. But the thing is, Marvel really has the stink of desperation around it these days – you can't help but notice it. I've been trying to pinpoint when this started, and I've got two guesses. The first is the petering-out of Tsunami and the complete implosion of Epic. These showed that Marvel knew it needed to do something new and different but had no idea how to actually go about it. They reinforced the notion that Marvel needs to pillage Vertigo, Wildstorm, Image, and Oni for new up-and-coming talent (your Vaughans and Watsons and McKeevers) and have no viable venue to grow such talent themselves. Moreover, they showed that, the Ultimate line to the contrary, Marvel really has no knack for creating successful new line-sized initiatives.

[...]

The second factor in Marvel losing its buzz is WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE syndrome, which started when they put Bendis on ULTIMATE X-MEN. Simply put, as good as Brian Bendis is, putting him on yet another book does not say "We really know what we're doing!" to the fans. A company as big and old as Marvel should have a better plan for reviving its fortunes than switching Bendis from book to book to book for one or two arcs at a time. Regardless of whether there's an actual drop in quality in his writing, and I doubt that there is, it just doesn't seem as special anymore when they announce that he's taking over a book, because they've done it so goddamn many times. In essence, "Brian Bendis takes over!" is no longer big news from Marvel – it's expected news. This goes double when he doesn't really do anything spectacularly different from his norm when he's handed a book – ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR reads pretty much exactly the way you'd think it would read after reading the first arc of ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN. (Think back on how differently USM, UXM, and ULTIMATES opened, for contrast.) (I think it's also a problem that, to many, it looks like he's watering himself down to please the suits – changing ALIAS to THE PULSE, for example.)


Bam. That's everything right there. The comforting/disillusioning thing about the internet is that there's always someone out there who can voice your opinion better than you ever could.

What I bought and why. 

In no particular order.

(As if you cared.)

Birds of Prey #65 - What can I say? It's a blast. The comic costs $2.50 and the entertainment is precisely that value, which is not an insult. I want to see Gail Simone on more titles, please. Also: could we maybe go back to the bodysuit costume for the Huntress? She looks like a stripper on Superhero Night at a titty bar in 1977.

Thanks.

Hellboy: The Corpse - I really know just about jack shit about Hellboy, which makes me a Bad Comic Book Fan. So I got this. Plus, it's 25 cents. You could only go wrong with this if touching the pages gave you syphillis.

And you can cure syphillis.

Freaks of the Heartland #2 - This better go somewhere fast. The artwork is absolutely gorgeous. I'd even go so far as to say it's "sumptuous," which is not a word you often see outside of jacket quotes for romance novels.

Wanted #3 - I like it. In fact, I like it quite a lot. It's a lot of fun. If everyone would just get their sticks out of their asses once in awhile and enjoy a good, nasty, brutal, funny ride, they might have a good time with this book too.

The Losers #10 - Viva la Losers revolucion! If you're not buying this book, would you please blow your fucking head off? You have no reason to be alive. Seriously, this is one of the most fun (funnest?) books in print, and its sales numbers are as shitty as frozen diarrhea dipped in a septic tank.

Which is pretty shitty. BUY THE BOOK!

(Props to Shane and Johnny for being part of the revolution.)

Lone #5 - I would make love to this book if I could. Given time, I'll find a way.

Patient Zero #1 - Total impulse buy. Sounded vaguely familiar. The art is purdy.

Cable & Deadpool #1 - Shut up. I hear you laughing, but SHUT UP! Cable is my secret shame; the spectre of my naive youth come back to haunt me. When I was a young, dumb kid (as opposed to an old, dumb kid) I, like any other comic book fan at age 11, created my own comic book universe. So enamored was I with Cable's look and persona (yeah yeah, stay with me, here) that approximately 150% of all my creations looked and operated just as he did.

What I didn't buy: Demo #5 - I'll let you in on a little secret. Demo is very, sorely, completely overrated. The writing is strictly competent, a mishmash of teenage angst wrapped up in arthouse pretensions. The art is pretty but utterly static; nowhere is the reader convinced that they are watching a story in motion; rather, the reader is very aware that they are looking at a series of stills. I dunno, I figure people are just hypnotized by the fact that a book came out of nowhere that's not a total piece of shit.

I'll tell you how it all goes.

A dark time. 

From ADD, this.

Tony Moore won't be doing Walking Dead anymore.

Ouch.

Paper Curtain, part tre. 

Here.

No time to commentate on things right now.

Playing hookey. Must go buy new comics. Entertainment later.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

More interestingness from Ellis. 

Kinda swinging from his nuts a little, yeah. But this is worth bringing up, from that thread over at Millarworld:

Q: Assuming you would be interested in such a job, if you ahd the choice between the Editor in chief jobs at DC and Marvel, who would you choose? What would your top goal be in this postion?

A: God, that's a huge question.

I think I'd choose Marvel. I have huge respect for DC, but they move so slowly that any EIC-like position up there would be horribly frustrating. I'm amazed that my friends there in senior editor and VP Creative positions haven't begun serial killing.

I mean, there's no doubt in my mind that in the first year or so of Quesada/Jemas, they were doing exactly what needed to be done for that company. At almost any other time in the previous ten or fifteen years, Bob Harras would have been an ideal EIC -- but he's naturally cautious and he doesn't like conflict, and Marvel at that point needed to kick down some walls and break some noses. Which Quesada/Jemas did. It was necessary, to revive the company.

And now Marvel is revived, no doubt about it. So the question of Where Marvel Should Go next is kind of interesting. If I were Marvel EIC...

You know what? There are the superheroes people are interested in -- that are being optioned for film and the like -- and the ones people have really never been that interested in. And Marvel has to make money. So I've got to tell you -- if FANTASTIC FOUR is in active movie development, I don't want to see FANTASTIC FOUR, HAWKEYE and THE INVADERS on the rack. I want to see FANTASTIC FOUR, ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR and IT'S THE FUCKING FANTASTIC FOUR, STUPID on the racks. (No disrespect to whomever's doing the other books, of course, I just pulled those titles out of my arse as I bang this out while waiting on an email from my agent.) If I'm the Marvel EIC, then my first responsibility is to make money for the company. I'm an employee. That's what I do. I don't do all these extraneous books with characters known only to the hardcore fans. I'm not going to greenlight RUNAWAYS or VENOM. I'm sure they're fine books. Brian Vaughan can write. But no-one's heard of them. I want a GHOST RIDER book, because everyone knows Nic Cage wants to do GHOST RIDER, and it's going to be about a guy on a bike with his head on fire who runs people over. And then lights them on fire. And then goes into a bar and drinks it and does Lisa Marie Presley over the pool table and then lights the place on fire and goes out and gets back on his bike and looks for more people to run over. This is what they want. Damn straight.

You can't publish things just because, you know, you've always published them. You don't keep a tumour in your head because, well, you've had it for years. THOR. No-one cares about THOR. No-one's ever cared about THOR. I wrote THOR. I wrote Thor in bed with a blonde woman wearing nothing but thighboots and opera gloves drawn by Mike Deodato. And still no-one cared about THOR. No-one's cared about THOR since Walt Simonson did the book. And what was the first thing Walt did? Got rid of Thor and replaced him with a horse from space. And the sales quadrupled.

A horse from space.

A successful company's reaction to moving a lot of books is to launch a bunch more. But I personally feel that that works against the initial success. Things degrade. Throwing a lot of stuff at the wall to see what sticks is fine -- but after a while, people only see what's being flung at the wall, not what's sticking. I say keep it manageable and guard the quality of what you've got. The company-owned characters are Marvel's assets, and they must be made to earn money, yes. But if you're running a car rental firm, then you're not going to put the three-wheeler from 1973 on the forecourt. You want to show off the cars that look like they'll run. Which is how you end up with three SPIDER-MAN books and no works at all that feature Angar The Screamer.

And then I'd relaunch the Epic line. The recent attempt was doomed from the start. Relaunch it under the original Shooter/Goodwin plan: the best by the best. No more than four books in any one month. The absolute best people in the medium. Creator-owned original work. And when we're doing the deal? We throw ten grand on top. That's for a one-year option on the film rights. That's the deal. We have Marvel Films. We will automatically purchase a one-year film option on your project, without attaching any other rights. If we can't get it going after a year, it reverts back to you, or we offer to buy a second year. That's "offer" -- not compulsory.

People forget that back in the 80s, Marvel was the radical company. Epic changed everything. If Shooter hadn't suffered some Jemasesque passing of his mental sell-by date, Frank Miller might have placed RONIN at Epic, thereby staying with Marvel. And although RONIN wasn't a worldchanging commercial success, it was an essential stepping stone to THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS...

I'm losing the thread. More whisky.

Introductions are in order. 

Everyone, I would like you to meet my wife.

Miss Jolie-Lowery, world. World, Miss Jolie-Lowery.

Hey, what're you laughing about?

SHUT UP! YOU DON'T KNOW OUR LOVE!

Huh. I never thought about that. 

It's a very simple question, really.

"What did cows evolve from?"

And yet, when I saw it, I realized two things instantly:

1) I'd just plain never thought of that before.

2) I have no fucking clue what the answer is.

Anyway. Informative read, on some trivia that you'll never, ever, ever have any use for ever. But it's still cool.

I'll give YOU an order of the beasts. 

Now this sounds pretty interesting.

Also, hey. Uh. Someone? Let's talk about something other than Ultimates being cancelled. I totally scooped your asses by several hours, so we need to move on to the Next Big Thing already.

< /ego >

The cracks are starting to show. 

It took a bit to get to this in Neil Gaiman's blog, but I only check there about once a week, so forgive me.

Dasani: BUSTED!

Sooner or later this sort of thing will reach America. Sooner or later most folks will realize that since bottled water is not regulated by the same wing of the government as tap water, it actually has fewer regulations on safety and content than tap water. Sooner or later, folks will find out that this case of Dasani just being tap water refiltered is exactly what 75% of all bottled water is. Some of them even have "municipal water" right there on the fucking ingredient label, people.

Sooner or later, people will realize that bottled water tastes so "different" from what comes out of their tap because it's from some other city's tap water.

And that time can't come soon enough. We've been swindled for far too long as it is.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Surprise! 

Turns out, the sun's going to rise tomorrow!

Plus this!

Jesus FUCKING Christ.

That is all.

There is justice. 

From EW.com:

Long live ''The Dead.'' Performing better than expected, ''Dawn of the Dead'' turned what was supposed to be a close weekend into a zombie rout, grossing $27.3 million, according to studio estimates.

Most projections were in the low-20 millions, but young male fans turned out in larger numbers than anticipated for the horror remake. Surprisingly strong reviews (including a straight A from EW's Lisa Schwarzbaum) likely brought in a few more curious moviegoers as well.


It's in my heart to make a comment about that "surprisingly strong reviews" bit, to get all defensive for my favored genre and favored subgenre, but you know what?

The numbers speak for themselves. Go see the movie.

Oh. Yes. 

Power Dude.

Goddamned fanboys and their goddamned numbering. 

So Bendis and Hitch are taking over Avengers, and it's a big deal for a few reasons that I thought were obvious, but apparently are not.

I'm looking at you, Broken Frontier.

First, we have this column by Jose Clemente. He states that he has a bit of a problem with this relaunch, but that his problem has nothing to do with the direction of the title. Issues such as story rehashing, tired concepts on a tired title, making Bendis the official fix-it man when his abandoning of UFF indicates he's pretty much at critical mass, that Marvel will be launching a new Avengers title on top of this one and Ultimates, even though Captain America hits the danger zone and no one seems to know what to do with Cap or with the Avengers themselves. Clemente doesn't care about that stuff.

He's bothered that they're re-starting the numbering at #1.

Wow. Talk about missing the forest for .. not even a tree, but for a little bit of undergrowth.

Graeme's a bit more on top of things. In the latest "Amuse, Confuse, or Irritate" he expresses a bit of.. melancholy? Disinterest? In the Bendis/Finch Avengers announcement. And I quote:

Now, I have to admit, as much as I may want to try and get excited about this, I can’t. It’s nothing against Bendis or Finch (although Finch draws a bit too much like Mark Silvestri for my liking. Lots of lines and very wide faces! Aiee!), just that… I don’t know. I think I’m becoming immune to Marvel’s announcements, because either we know about them so far in advance thanks to rumours (Hello Joss!), or because – as in this case – it’s just not surprising that Marvel go to Bendis to try and get some heat back on a title.

That's getting warmer.

What we have here is a big, glowing, neon sign blinking at us, and it reads "Marvel's Creative Malaise Now Officially Infects All Major Titles."

Bendis is the fixit writer for Marvel. Finch is the fixit artist for high-profile spandex people. Marvel is desperately trying to invigorate tired titles with uninspired relaunches and "event" writer/artist pairings, meanwhile announcing more books that plumb the depths of increasingly less-fertile territory. Why. The FUCK. Are they launching a brand-new Avengers title when they can't even figure out how to handle their two existing ones?

These are all very important, very serious issues that will have a greater impact on the industry as a whole in years to come.

But no. We're upset about the numbering.

We Should Stop Swinging from CGI's Nutsack. 

From the Punisher movie panel at WizardWorld LA, from Gale Anne Hurd, producer of the movie, about filming a "real" movie as opposed to CGI-fests like Hulk:

"When I started, you did it for real. In my heart of hearts, to be able to do the action and have actors like Tom Jane and Kevin Nash, and to be able to it for real, is far more exciting.

"Because at the end of the day, you get to see dailies. And you know right there and then, it's working. When you're working in visiual effects, it takes months later. Because you're shooting everything and there's nothing in dailies. You don't see The Hulk in dailies. You don't see the Water Snake from The Abyss."


That actually explains quite a lot about Hulk and Attack of the Clones, doesn't it?

(Article from Press Release Central, aka Comics Continuum.)

Serves me right. 

Something that matters happened, just not a lot of people are talking about it.

James Marsden did a Q&A at WizardWorld LA (why do I feel like I got the really short end of the stick with the Dallas one?), and talked briefly about the Preacher adaptation that's been wallowing in limbo for about two years now.

"Marsden commented briefly on the Garth Ennis adaptation, "Preacher." "Almost two years ago I got a phone call from my agent, offering it. I was like, 'What is Preacher?' They were very vague. So I ask some of my friends, and they're like 'They offered you Jesse Custer? Preacher? Wow!' I got a couple of the graphic novels and I was captivated, it was some of the best writing that I'd ever read. I just found it an amazing piece of literature. Right now it's in development hell. When you have an independantly financed film, it's getting harder to get them made. We're gonna try to go this summer. I kind of wanted to wait another year so I could get more wrinkles and get even more weathered. If there was ever a role that I wanted to do some method acting, this would be it. My wife read every single one of the issues in two days, she was in love with 'em."

Article's here, at CBR. Also some stuff in there about a Transformers movie, if you're into that sort of thing.

At first I thought this was a horribly bad idea. Not out of fanboy defensiveness, but because Preacher is so damn dense it'd be hard to compact all of the story elements that matter into 2 hours or less. For some reason, this quote warms my cold heart.

Hat's off, Marsden. Even if you look about 15 years too young to be boffing that particular Jean Grey.

Jiminy Christmas, what a boring day. 

So this is all we have to talk about?

The Invaders?

Joe Quesadilla being ineffectively snarky about DC?

Captain Marvel is being cancelled?

Goddamned Identity Disc, which not only has the world's stupidest title, but also sounds incredibly lame?

Jesus. Wake me up when something that matters happens.

Get out of my TEETH! 

Okay, so I saw Dawn of the Dead this weekend. Great movie, absolutely recommended, full of all the best things that the greater zombie movies have: terror, drama, human conflict, humor, and gore. In that order.

The title song for the movie, which plays while we see clips of the entire world going to Hell, is set to Johnny Cash's "When the Man Comes Around." That song wormed its way into my brain in such a way that now, fully three days later, I'm still playing it on WinAmp nonstop.

Goddammit, Cash. You're dead. STOP!

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Marry me, Sarah Polley. 

So I'm reading this interview (subscription required, I'm sure) with Sarah Polley on Entertainment Weekly's website, about how and why she chose to take the lead female role in the remake of Dawn of the Dead (which, incidentally, rocks your lame ass):

EW: The genre has changed since the ''Scream'' trilogy turned it on its ear. Were you nervous about making a straightforward horror film?

Sarah Polley: I think it takes a lot more nerve to not be in on the joke. When I saw the movie with an audience, people were shocked. We're so used to this ironic tongue-in-cheek that we think we're all way too sophisticated to actually be scared. That era has had its day, but people want to experience real things in theaters again. And it's really great to make a movie that isn't making fun of itself the whole time. And it's funnier, actually.


Wow. She said what needed to be said in one strong, well-worded paragraph. All those sardonic, gee-aren't-we-witty movies that no-talent fucktard Kevin Williamson thrust down our throats have gone the way of the dodo. And good fucking heavens. All you cop-out bitches who like to make fun of the horror movies that entertain you can get the hell out.

Saturday, March 20, 2004

Oh for fuck's sake! 

So my roommate points this out to me.

Behold, on a pale horse. I saw a rider, and his name was ROB FUCKING LIEFELD.

Look, I gotta ask: have we really learned anything at all in the past ten years? Do we not realize that what Milligan and Allred did with X-Force was absolutely necessary for phasing that title out of our fucking lives forever? I realize X-Statix is sort of a piece of shit these days, but Milligan doesn't deserve a slap in the face like this.

Marvel's going backwards in a major way, and I'm not sure the tent stakes of guys like Ennis and Bendis can keep them from "reloading" all the way back to the worst stuff of 1994.

I remember when that Epic business was going on, Quesada wrote a bit of a guide to what kinds of comics they were looking for. In doing so, he singled out what kinds of stories they weren't looking for; Quesadilla's prime example was Spider-Man.

Queso's complaint with the Spider-Man titles is that writers, over the years, had made "comic books about comic books," or whatever his peculiar phrasing was, and the prime example of this was having Peter Parker get a steady job and marry Mary Jane Watson. Peter Parker becoming anything other than a struggling student trying to hide his identity from the love of his life was, according to Quesar, a Very Bad Idea.

Translation: change bad, status quo good. Don't send us new ideas because we won't take them.

I didn't think much about it back then, but it really is indicative of a larger trend in Marvel that now doesn't even bother to hide itself. They are telling us: "We will make this 1994 again, and there's not a goddamn thing you can do about it."

And isn't Liefeld already hilariously behind on some of his other titles? I'm sure he brings it up in that interview somewhere. I wouldn't know; every time I start reading his words my eyes well up with tears and I have to go punch a kitten until I feel better.

Goddammit.

Ellis, part two. 

Ken Lowery: 1) You strike me as the kind of writer who writes almost out of compulsion. You can't NOT write; it's just in your blood. Considering this (and whether or not you think it's true), do you think you'll ever consider retirement, or will you just keel over dead at the keyboard down at the pub one day? Perhaps.. tomorrow?

2) A hell of a lot of people make a hell of a lot of speculations about how you feel about the folks in the pervert suits. Most folks like to drag out the idea that you "hate" them whenever they see you sign on to do something like UFF so they can call you a hypocrite. All that's a load of crap, but there you go.

The thing is, I get the impression you rather like some of these pervert suit fellows, mostly from your writing of them. Despite calling the Authority the villains, I got the impression you genuinely liked every single one of those characters, Sparks in particular. And you sure as hell nailed Batman as well as I've seen anyone ever do, in the Night on Earth crossover with Planetary. So I ask: do you genuinely have a sneaky love for these characters, and a loathing for the writers who butcher them? Or do you have problems with the genre itself, and work your way up to the writers responsible?

Sloppy method of questioning, I know, and more resembling about five questions than two, but I figure you might like a platform to clear up some misconceptions about your attitudes toward the superhero genre.

If I'm being a jackass by asking, I have full confidence that you'll let me know.

Warren Ellis: 1) Dead at keyboard.

2) What I dislike is that the apparent majority of people involved in the American medium are totally unprepared, if not actively opposed, to thinking past the company-owned superhero. As if there were no more to comics than that, and that they actually have to be protected against original thinking.

I have no issue with good comics in any genre, just as I have no issue with good cop shows. I personally don't have any great fondness for the superhero genre, just as I have no great fondness for Westerns or musical comedies.

But I'd like it if there were more than just cop shows on TV every night, and I'd like it if there were more than just old company-owned superhero comics in comics stores.

What defines the superhero genre? (And what doesn't?) 

Fanboy Rampage points out this thread on Millarworld, a Q&A session with Warren Ellis that's been going on for a little while now and is a pretty damn fascinating read. I'll reprint what I think is the most intriguing part, for your enjoyment:

Marc-Oliver Frisch: All right, I'll try to make up for that misfired attempt at humor that made a ruckus got me tarred and feathered earlier (though I was oddly aroused by Lauren) with a question for Warren, if he won't mind:

What defines a "superhero comic" for you?

I mean, it's obvious that something like AVENGERS or SUPERMAN is superheroes, but how about PLANETARY or THE INVISIBLES, for example? Or TRANSMETROPOLITAN?

I remember a column by Joe Casey several years ago ("Joe Casey's Crash Comments," I think they were called) in which Casey discussed that question, suggesting that Spider Jerusalem is a "superhero," in a sense, because -- and I'm doing this from memory, so please take it with a big grain of salt -- he has a distinctive "costume" and does stuff that could be considered heroic. Now, while I think that's a bit extreme, I can certainly see where he was coming from.

So when you refer to superhero books, which kinds of titles do you mean? Only the straightforward, colorful costumes kind of thingies like JLA or X-MEN, the more recent variations like POWERS or WILDCATS, or is your definition even wider than that?

Warren Ellis: Well, as you've guessed, Joe's definition is way too broad.

Let's say superhero fiction is defined by a handful of elements, which you can term the topoi -- the place, settings, catalogue of an argument. It's a crude benchtest -- if the topoi map onto the comic, it's a superhero book. In fact, if elements of the topoi deliberately do not map onto the comic, the declaration can still hold true. Those are sometimes called the enthymemes -- the relevant premise that is left to be understood by the reader. Joe's own Jack Marlowe in WILDCATS 3.0 doesn't wear a costume, but is still a superhero -- he doesn't wear a costume because he has determined that a business suit is a better uniform in which to achieve his agenda. Jenny Sparks doesn't wear a costume because she doesn't think she has the rack to carry one off.

What Joe lets slide by in his argument is the basic set of demands visual fiction makes. By his definition, Columbo is a superhero. Jon and Ponch from CHiPS are superheroes. Barney is a superhero.

Visual fiction, particularly character-driven visual fiction, demands that we recognise the protagonist easily. That's why we put them in distinctive clothes.

Spider Jerusalem comes without a secret identity -- nor a specific contextual or subtextual reason for being without a secret identity. Spider comes without special abilities, nor special skills or devices developed to serve the same needs as special abilities. He comes without a costume or other disguise, nor is there a reason why he would have one. You can fill in the rest, I'm sure.

(And, for the smartarses, Judge Dredd wears not a costume but a uniform, a uniform shared by the other million cops in Mega-City One.)

Obviously, edges blur. Edges are often blurred deliberately. Grant was blurring a few edges in the early parts of THE INVISIBLES -- but no, I don't see it as a superhero book. PLANETARY, however, is pretty clearly a superhero book. Elijah Snow even had a secret identity. So secret that even he didn't know what it was. Jakita Wagner, too, has a "secret identity" she's utterly unaware of. Riffs off the topoi.

Does that get you any closer, or am I totally full of crap at this point?

-- W

Dinosaur huntin'. 

There's been a little bit of a fuss ever since an article popped up on Ninth Art, an article that basically gives marching orders to the likes of John Byrne and Chris Claremont. It's not a bad little article, and pretty much agreeable, though it is thinly-veiled attack journalism.

(Oh, jesus, did I just say "attack journalism"? I swear to god I hate Fox News, I promise.)

At any rate, Neilalien, palindrome and speaker of the third person, went on to link to this article, which gave it more buzz, and now opinions are sprouting up all over the place. The most succinct can be found here.

Yes, I just formed your opinion for you.

American Power! Yeah! 

So okay, you guys remember how I reacted to that solicitation for Chuck Dixon's American Power, right? If you're too fucking lazy to scroll down like half a page, here it is:

"I'd swear to fucking god that was a joke if I didn't know any better. I guess Dixon's nuttier gun-crazed side is starting to show again. Doesn't that description sound like just about everything that's crass and vulgar and stupid about comics, not to mention American society?"

Turns out I'm not alone in those thoughts. By far. Check out this rather insightful article, that I find via the always wonderful Thought Balloons.

Friday, March 19, 2004

I like my Westerns like I like my coffee. 

(Note: Title makes no sense.)

Palmiotti and Gray got themselves a new OGN coming out. Check the premise, as given by Justin Gray his own self:

"Cloudburst is a popcorn movie, a throwback to the fun sci-fi/horror matinees involving a former prison world, corporate espionage, monsters, easy sex and desperadoes."

I'm there. I have to admit, I've got a very large, very weak spot in my heart for trash genre fiction, so long as it's actually done well and manages to entertain without being stupid. Being stupid is camp, not trash fiction. Don't confuse the two.

And by the gods, look at that art. Mm, baby. Bag that up, I'm taking it home.

Travelogue! 

On the road with Viper Comics.

Good guys. Decent comics showcasing a creator with potential. Buy all their stuff. I've got a Viper Comics hat sitting on top of a lifelike skull on my bookshelf, and damned if it isn't the coolest thing God ever crafted.

Sometimes I speak in hyperbole.

One quibble: I too live in Dallas, and I've made the trip to Austin about seven hundred gillion times. I don't know what kind of wacky by-roads those Viper boys take, but that trip's 3 hours, 3 and a half tops. Whycomes they claim it took 4? Get the lead out, Viper!

Burster to Bubble: I'm coming for you. 

Yeah, this isn't going to go anywhere good.

IDW, I understand you're eager. You're flush with excitement over what Steve Niles does for you. You've got CSI and The Shield and any number of other TV show franchises that deal with cops and the dead bodies they create and/or investigate, but this way lies darkness, okay? You're buying expensive licenses and none of those titles are exactly ripping up the charts. Maybe I'm missing something and they're not all that expensive, buuuuut...

The spectre of bankruptcy looms over any company that spends too much too fast. Fair warning.

The whole 24 thing sounds bad, from a creative point of view. Two pages equals one hour of the plot's time? No matter what? Seems a little.. rigid, don't you think? Locking down pacing in such a way? I realize this is probably an idea that sounded brilliant and clever when the guys who wear ties to work came up with it, but unless they get really damn innovative working inside that restriction of theirs, the pacing'll be about as exciting to watch unfold as Alzheimer's patients playing softball.

Actually that sounds pretty exciting.

Free Weird-Ass Comic Book Day 

July 3rd. You heard it here... second.

I'm of two minds about this setup. I'm glad there's a full spectrum of publishers (mostly), and a full spectrum of topics (somewhat), but I can't help but think it'd be awfully nice if the Big Two got involved a bit more. Maybe Marvel could have saved their Epic digest thingy to be another free comic book, or Vertigo or Wildstorm could hit us up with a nice sampler, something like the Coup D'etat afterword, in terms of form (though not content.) Showcase your art. Print out a 22-pager that shows nothing but the best works of the most talented artists your stables. Interviews with writers! Discussions about upcoming storylines! Fuck, just run a 22-page glossy full-color ad about all the cool TBPs you'll have coming out in the next 6 months!

I'm a madhouse of ideas! It's my happening and it freaks me out!

Yeah yeah yeah, I know I'm a big heretic for suggesting we see more spandex action on Free Comic Book Whatever, but it'd be nice to know the Big Two care. All they've got so far is that Marvel Age Spider-Man and Teen Titans Go. Which I suppose I'll admit aren't bad choices for FCBD, but still. We could do better, and we should strive to.

And you know.. I like Chuck Dixon and all, god bless the guy, but Jesus Tapdancing Christ:

"Superstar artist Greg Land and master of action Chuck Dixon unleash America's new living weapons in the war against terror! They bomb civilians, hurt innocents, and spread fear. But those that have chosen to inflict pain will reap what they've sown! Now, the world's modern monsters will face a new, devastating and living arsenal! Supported by the technology, muscle and brainpower of the U.S. Armed Forces, the next stage in human evolution will scour the globe and deliver justice! Lock and load for high-stakes, high-explosive military action as the enhanced soldiers code-named Ivictus and Scapel strike!"

I'd swear to fucking god that was a joke if I didn't know any better. I guess Dixon's nuttier gun-crazed side is starting to show again. Doesn't that description sound like just about everything that's crass and vulgar and stupid about comics, not to mention American society?

(At any rate, what's the difference between "bombing civilians" and "hurting innocents"? Odd choice of language; makes it sound like innocents and civilians are two seperate entities.)

I shouldn't be awake right now.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Cultural Wars 

A one-two punch today, from the front lines of the Moron Wars.

This bit, link courtesy of Xe.

Seems a young girl checked out a book from the elementary school, a fairy tale about a prince who discovers the love of his life is another prince. The parents complained, as they are wont to do, because they can't figure out why the rest of the world won't simply conform to the values they raise their own kids with.

For once, a school principal stood up for her library and for her school.

"What might be inappropriate for one family, in another family is a totally acceptable thing," said Elizabeth Miars, Freeman's principal.

I'll second that. These parents, the real winners, are going to file a complaint about the book and are "considering transferring their daughter." Gee, that'll teach us. I just feel bad for the daughter, really. Those are the parents she has to grow up with. Fucked from the start.

Then there's this, which I find via die puny humans.

Okay. It isn't that the populace of that county are a bunch of fucking morons. That much is evident in that they throw a festival to celebrate the anniversary of John Scopes getting put on trial for teaching evolution. So that the residents of the fine Rhea County of Tennessee are total fuckwits is beyond reproach.

What worries me is that the measure to ban all homosexuals from living in their county (of total fuckwits), put forth by a man named J.C. Fugate (total fuckwit), passed among the commissioners (Homo Fuckwiticus Totalus) with a vote of 8 to 0. That's everyone. That's kind of scary. Every person in an office that matters in that county is, that's right, a total fuckwit.

We'll sidestep how completely unamerican such an ordinance is. I just gotta ask this question of the fine residents (total fuckwits, all) of Rhea County:

Do you really think gay people want to live in a county full of people like you?

I forget how much I love the Onion. 

My buddy James pointed this out to me.

That just really says everything you need to know about Rumsfeld, doesn't it? Though not quite as well as this article laid out everything you need to know about Ashcroft.

We have some seriously fucked-up people up there in Washington, people. Folks who have been pulling strings since they were dashing young devils under Richard Fucking Nixon. That's how long they've been around. I thought our electoral process was set up to ensure we never had people hanging around, making big decisions for that long?

Hooray for Image. 

Image solicitations for June are up.

I can count off the number of titles I care about on that list on one hand. Image? What the hell's your problem, buddy? It's like you were the eccentric cousin that was really cool for awhile, then got sorta stupid and self-involved, and now you're just tossing out tons and tons of noise with a few words of genius in there.

I am sad. Anyway, at least the good and/or intriguing titles (Walking Dead, The Ride) are in fact VERY good and VERY intriguing. Quality but not quantity.

Hey. Hey! 

Someone let me know when something worth talking about happens.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Delayed. 

I'm having a bit of a situation, so I wasn't able to get my hands on my comics today. I did, however, get my hands on my roommate's, and read some of his books (some of which I buy, too). So consider this a brief thing until I get the actual, real reading list for this week fired up.

Batman: Gothan Knights #51 - Rather wonderful, actually. Writer A.J. Lieberman picks up a Hush story right after that acclaimed mini-series came to an end, and trumps Jeph Loeb at pretty much every turn on Loeb's own creation. This isn't hackwork or an exercise in trotting out Batman's rogue's gallery; by god, this is a real mystery with an active, dynamic villain that you truly have to kind of stand in awe of. Al Barrionuevo's pencils are going to take some getting used to, I think. Bruce Wayne's face on page 4 goes from lantern-jawed in a three-quarters shot to some kind of weird Watcher chin in the next panel, head-on. At any rate. This series is definitely worth a look.

Daredevil #58 - Bendis, please go ahead and get somewhere with this. The current arc has had a mild investigatory angle to it, with Ben Urich trying to track down Murdock after his run-in with the Yakuza. And because this is a book written by Bendis, there's a police interrogation scene. No, really! Anyway. After the mostly-dull-with-some-lively-moments run by David Mack on DD, I'd really like to get a sense of forward momentum again. Is that too much to ask? Alex Maleev's and Matt Hollingsworth's art remains the top showpiece in Marvel's stable.

The Walking Dead #5 - It actually, truly, really is one of the best books on the market. Kirkman knows the genre he operates inside of well, and here we see the cracks in our lovable band of survivors start to really show. It's nothing showy or flashy or ostentatious; nope, these are just examples of how familiarity breeds contempt, in even the zaniest of circumstances. And by god, does the book pack a shock or two. And goddamned if Tony Moore's art ain't gold.

More later.

LEAVE IT ALONE! 

For god's sake!

I was mildly irked at the remake of Psycho, mostly because Gus Van Sant's "vision" was apparently to put Hitchcock's classic in color and add a completely unnecessary step to the voyeurism scene, and that's all. We did get an absolutely unparalleled William H. Macy performance out of it, and I have heard that Van Sant says he did this remake "so no one else would," which makes it acceptable if not admirable.

Then there was that completely unnecessary remake of Manhunter, Red Dragon. We got good performances all around and so forth and so on, but can you really tell me they had any reason to make that other than wringing a few more bucks out of Anthony Hopkins playing Hannibal Lecter?

Then they ("they say a lot, don't they?") remade The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which is one of my all-time favorite movies of all time (you read that right). In the remake, they cast a bunch of pretty WB drones, set the main house up as some kind of sprawling plantation, and put the movie in the hands of someone who obviously wanted to make a slick product (and there is no other word but "product") that more resembled a music video than a movie.

Gone was the sense of visceral energy. Gone was the stripped-down urgency of the original, told by filmmakers who wanted to get their point across with such boundless enthusiasm and love for their work that you could see the dedication in every fucking frame. Gone was the mindfuck of the endless screams, the intrusion of sudden, random violence completely out of left field. Gone was the innovation, the desire to tell basic stories in new ways. Gone were the nobody actors and actresses that allowed us to get into the main characters effortlessly. Gone was the completely nonexistant budget. I don't know if Tobe Hooper wept, but I know I did.

I'm just glad Last House on the Left isn't enough of a visible cult classic to get the same assfucking. Wes... keep your damn grip on that one. Keep it tight.

But now Assault on Precinct 13 is getting shoved through the remake machine. A tightly wound exercise in tension and fear. The setup for John Carpenter's career and an absolutely necessary testing ground before he went on to make the legendary movies Halloween and Escape from New York. And now they're goddamn remaking it with big name stars and a big budget. Are they going to keep going until they update every single example of 1970's guerilla filmmaking? Is that the idea?

Anger.

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