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Wednesday, June 30, 2004

I'm a whore. 

Want to help out your favorite Outpost o' Ragefuck on the internet? Well why not donate to the cause by buying me some shit?

I mean seriously. How can I provide you some good, solid entertainment if I don't have The Wicker Man playing on my TV while I read The Lottery and Other Stories? Am I right? Yeah?

I'm totally right.

Make it so.

...Indeed. 

Fedx2k:



That's why I could never be an artist. I could never, ever, ever, in a billion fucking years, come up with something that catastrophically insane.

It's wonderful, isn't it?

"Some blind zombie circus aerialist back from the dead to fight crime." 

Superhero books, at least since the creation of Spider-Man, have been falling all over themselves to show that even though these fabulously powered guys in masks are in some ways invincible, they are in other ways as vulnerable as any random schmoe on the street. We are told again and again and again, ad nauseum, that physical might simply isn't enough to put a person's life in shape; it can, in fact make a person's life far, far worse.

But these are superhero comic books, and this harsh reality is cloaked in stylized and exagerrated hyperbole, told in almost distractingly overwrought melodrama. But it doesn't have to be told that way. Adam Beechen and Manny Bello's Hench takes a keen magnifiying glass to this kind of superhero tale, focusing in on the trials and tribulations of that guy who gets kicked in the pelvis by Batman in the third panel on page 2.

Mike Fulton is your average face in the crowd: big guy from all those years playing football in school, good at taking orders, wife and kid, nothing exceptional to his persona or appearance. Unfortunately for Mike, hitting guys he's ordered to hit is about all he's good at. What's a well-meaning but marginally-talented guy to do?

Hire on as a supervillain's henchman, that's what. Sure, the risks are high, jailtime is inevitable, and the boss may lash out at you at any time, but if you score, you score big. How, exactly, is that all that different from being part of a football team?

Jail is hardly a threat in itself. For a man whose finances are perpetually on the rope, six months of free room and board (as well as a chance to network with other henchmen) isn't really all that bad. Inevitably, they always let you back out again.

Ah, but then there's the wife and kid... and the very real threat to life and limb... and what's a man to do, when he's backed into a corner, and every new choice looks worse than the last one? How can you get yourself out of a life you know to be bad when the alternative is the crush and grind of 9-to-5 blue collar life?

Hench manages to address and, to some degree, answer those questions, but it's not as deadly serious as all that. The progression of Mike's career path, marked by full-page homages to comics masters of the past (Shuster, Steranko, Kirby, Romita Sr.) is a display of superhero comics' evolution through the decades. They're also pretty damn clever.

Some fuss has been kicked up about Manny Bello's art in this story; the man uses pencils for everything, including shading, ink be damned. It can take some getting used to. Take a closer look: what may at first glance appear to be workmanlike art is in fact technically perfect, unusually expressive, and consistent throughout. Bello's no master artist, not yet, but his storytelling skill is impeccable.

What's curious about the story is its method of narration; I'd be willing to wager that the ratio of thought captions to actual dialogue balloons is something like 5:1. Whole pages go by without anything being said out loud. The resulting tale is intimate, and we have no choice but to empathize with poor Mike. He's just a guy. And sometimes, well -- being just a guy may not cut it. Ask Peter Parker.

It's the intimacy of narration and the no-fuss finesse that make Hench work as well as it does. It's a superhero tale without a superhero, an X-Ray of what all those Lee/Kirby stories were getting at, a simple but strong tale told with the familiar tropes of the superhero genre. By the end, you do realize Mike Fulton is just a guy, and end up hoping that being "just a guy" is enough to make the right decision.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Tough moral choices. 

From THE ROOMMATE: Who To Kill.

Furiously addictive. Make your choice between two people at a time, which one lives, which one dies?

Some are easy: The Tick vs. the Williams Sisters.

Some are unfairly hard: Ed Norton vs. Shaft.

Some, you want to kill them both: Bob Saget vs. Noid.

This link will deathfuck productivity. Fair warning.

Oh, get the fuck over yourself. 

So Warren Ellis finds a Suicide Bomber Barbie and posts it over at diepunyhumans.com:



Which is pretty funny. But then I made the accident of clicking on the link, and seeing what the self-righteous little ego-fellaters of the London institute of contemporary arts (they're contemporary and they're artists, so they don't need to capitalize proper nouns, because that shit's so bourgeoisie) has to say about it.

Tyszko’s work might be described as being in the tradition of the long lost art of agitprop. ‘Capitalism defeats dissent and revolution’ Tyszko says, ‘not through direct confrontation, but through commodification.It sells back at a profit the signs, styles and symbols of revolution.’

By his appropriation of a consumerist icon, the artist creates an emphatic subversion of this process, the artist seeking to help create the conditions of political change.


Yeah. Or! It's a cheap gag touching on a current hot-button issue, mixed in with the most obvious "consumer icon" in the Western Hemisphere, short of strapping a bomb to the McDonald's logo.

Modern artists, here's why no one outside of your self-important niches care about you: You think moronic, childishly "symbolic" shit like this is a way to "help create the conditions of political change"? Who the fuck do you think you're kidding?

(For bonus points, there's a Noam Chomsky quote at the bottom... because, apparently, no adolescent decrying of The Man is complete without a goddamn Chomskyism.)

A strange request. 

Can anyone find a jpeg of Toby Edward Rosenthal's painting "Elaine"? The usual online places aren't helping a lot.

Thanks in advance. I'll shower you with love for at least 20 minutes if you find it.

Monday, June 28, 2004

WE HAVE BEEN ROBBED! 

From John McCrea's website:

Years after Grant Morrison and myself were proposing to do a Scooby Doo story together, I've finally got the chance to draw Scooby Doo at last.

Wait. Back up.

GRANT MORRISON and JOHN MCCREA writing a SCOOBY DOO comic book? Collaborated? They WANTED to do it?

As Shane said: Grant Morrison wrote a comic in which sentient sperm destroyed an entire town and he wanted to do Scooby Doo?

WHERE IS THIS COMIC? SHOW IT TO ME NOW!

Glorious! 

Kind of funny, THE ROOMMATE and I were discussing yesterday whether or not a Bullseye series or mini would be viable if he were totally and utterly removed from the Daredevil-verse.

Elektra fared poorly in that same situation, but it was my idea that if you put Bullseye in a capes-less situation pitted between two crime families, or perhaps running his own in opposition to Kingpin, you could get something worthwhile out of it. The trick with making characters like Bullseye the "protagonist" (if not the "hero") is to make his opposition that much more vile. Or you revel in his utter bastardness.

And lordy lordy, Steve Dillon's doing the art! I've been wondering where this guy went off to.

(Quick: Who the hell is Daniel Way?)

I just pretty much geeked out in public, huh? But then, why else have a blog...

Just when you thought it was safe. 

This picture's been floating around for awhile, but...



Every time I see this picture, my sanity snaps like so much dry kindling. It's like a direct penetration of Satan's cock into my frontal lobe.

No lube.

(Thanks a fucking bunch for reminding me of this, Rick. Truly, your treachery respects no bounds or borders.)

ADDENDUM: Courtesy of internet funnyman K. Thor Jensen, I am pointed toward a whole bevvy of fucked-up cat-themed postcards. This shirt is pretty much a required purchase.

Just a lil sumpin' sumpin'. 

Been hearing about Maria Full of Grace for some time now, breakout performance, Sundance award for the first-timer Catalina Sandino Moren, and so on and so forth. Good stuff.

Here's the trailer.

Doesn't precisely tell you a lot, beyond the summary: poor girl plays drug mule for desperately needed money. Things go poorly.

Somehow, that alone is intriguing.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Heh heh. 

It's not comics news, but...

Buffeted by allegations of sex club forays, Republican candidate Jack Ryan on Friday dropped out of the U.S. Senate race in Illinois.

All the best stuff is right up front:

In a written statement, Ryan blamed the news media for the controversy, saying its interest in his personal life had gotten "out of control."

"It's clear to me that a vigorous debate on the issues most likely could not take place if I remain in the race," Ryan said. "What would take place, rather, is a brutal, scorched-earth campaign -- the kind of campaign that has turned off so many voters, the kind of politics I refuse to play."


Kinda sucks to be on the other end of it, doesn't it? Not so much fun when you're not the bully anymore.

Of course, Herr Ryan wasn't personally responsible for the ridiculous (and rather perverse) eight-year storm surrounding Bill Clinton's sex life, but I'm sure he didn't protest his party's doings in that, either.

Excuse me while I laugh. Heartily.

A Massive Review Post. 

(Until I can get some actual content going. This'll span a couple-few weeks' worth of comics.)

Astonishing X-Men #2 - I feel really weird because I actually like this title quite a lot. Whedon's stuff on TV always did zip for me, but I find the dialogue good without being too much in comic book form, and I think I've figured out why: Whedon's dialogue, like theatre dialogue, reads a hell of a lot better than it sounds. It's a good-looking book, and while the story seems to be hovering around the inconsequential, it's still pretty damned entertaining.

Rating: I can't believe I actually have an X-title on my pull list now.

Runaways #16 - Hmm. Now that the big plot twist has been revealed, it feels entirely like a gimmick, a mechanical plot element that's in there because it's a good twist and not because it makes any kind of sense inside the story's logic. It's like how you can tell a really bad mystery from the good ones: if, in the end, the revelation of who the murderer is doesn't affect the previous story at all, and indeed it could have been any of them with the same impact, you've got a shitty mystery on your hands. Runaways has so far not been shitty, but I can't help but feel a little cheated. Maybe next issue will clarify.

Rating: Well.. I guess they can't all be home runs.

Wanted #4 - Mark Millar outfoxing his critics yet again. For the first three issues, Millar's kneejerk bashers have apparently thought the writer was eagerly endorsing the writing, citing the adventures of Wanted's main character as an immature dive into violence and sex and gore all for their own sake. I've said all along that what we are seeing is the character's immaturity writ large, and now it's all starting to come crashing down around him. Fuck the haters: this is a smart, fun, funny book. And it looks gorgeous.

Rating: Why can't we all just... shut the hell up and allow ourselves to enjoy something?

Dead@17: Blood of Saints #3 - As the covers get more and more like some kind of fetish catalogue... It all moves along pretty well, and I don't regret buying any of this stuff, but two things: the irregular dialogue balloons have GOT, TO, GO, and I don't know that in this series a whole hell of a lot has actually happened. Howard's art is superior to his writing, this is no lie, but he at least has an understanding of pacing lacking in, oh, say, Ultimate Spider-Man.

Rating: Mo' shit needs to happen!

The Ride #1 - I have high hopes for this title. The first two "chapters" presented in this particular issue were visually exciting and overall intriguing, if a little, shall we say, vague in the story department (where did the psycho schoolgirl bitch come from again?). Maybe my questions will be answered next issue; then again, maybe not. Do your duty and buy this title.

Rating: If this keeps up, I feel another title to get passionate about coming on.

Remains #2 - This'd be less painful for me if it didn't cost me Four Fucking Dollars an issue, but it's got zombies in it, and it's got Kieron Dwyer drawing them. I'll just be blunt here: This story, and Niles' work on it, are not worthy of Mr. Dwyer's art. Niles seems to be taking for granted that we'll automatically buy into (and care about) a Zombie Apocalypse setting, and gives us characters that struggle and strain to support one dimension, let alone two or three. This is a fallacy, and boy, are we suffering for it. And hey, look! A roving biker gang! That sure sounds like something straight out of Dawn of the Dead, right? Oh wait.. isn't Niles doing a shot-by-shot comic-ized version of that, too? Right.

Rating: Grumble.

Seaguy #2 - Mikester said it first and best, and no one's ever summarized Seaguy better: "This is probably as close as a long-time comic reader like me (or most of you, for that matter) will come to sharing the experience of someone who has never before read a comic book perusing an issue of, say JSA." Yeah, that's pretty much it. I'll be the first to say there's probably not a whole hell of a lot going on here, just the usual painfully simplistic tale of little-heroes-versus-big-evil-overlords (a la Invisibles) painted up in near-indecipherable language. It's enjoyable, but having to struggle to get through a straightforward story can get irksome. There, I said it; now all the snobs can call me unsophisticated, and I can tell them to lick my ass.

Ratings: I got in this far, didn't I? And I'm enjoying it, more or less. Might as well see it through to the end.

The Losers #13 - Oh holy mother of god, where did Jock go! Yes, the story was great, there were no less than three laugh-out-loud moments, it's intriguing and sophisticated without being obtuse, but where the fuck is Jock! Did I miss something? Was there an interview about this? Is this permanent? AHHHHH!!!

Rating: And who says I'm resistant to change?

303 Preview - Yeah. Burrows' art does absolutely zero for me, it always looks like... I don't know, cel shots from an animated show, but I think this could be good. Not first-tier Ennis work, but up there.

Rating: I'm in. You are too. No arguing!

Fraction #3 - Less happens here than has happened before, but this is still a solid, solid, solid read. What's interesting is the tone of narration: casual and conversational, a bit dry and sarcastic, and not done by any of the characters in the book (at least, so far as I can tell.) Where that puts us is a strange limbo between objective third-person narration captions and wholly subjective narrative thought captions, and it's kind of appealing. Adds a bit of spike to the story. Focus titles are in trouble, as you well know, so you really need to get your ass out there and give this one a try. (Hard Time is the other one that's quite superior, though I confess I have not yet read Touch.)

Rating: I will be a sad panda if/when this gets cut.

Ultimate Fantastic Four #7 - This series has been as dull as plain white toast up until now, and this issue here (Ellis's first on the title) is more a setup of things to come than a sequence of real events. Me? I'm excited. Sure, I'm an Ellis fan, and I'm glad that someone at least vaguely interested in science is now handling Marvel's science-based team, but everyone has a real reason to be pumped: Ellis has his hands on Dr. Fucking Doom again, and I doubt he has the clamps on him he did way back in the 2099 days. This book could get real nasty real fast.

Rating: Hooray!

Batman: Gotham Knights #54 - Best Bat-title going, and one that dares to treat the Joker as some kind of actual flesh-and-blood person and not just an insane force of nature. Apparently that irks a lot of people, but, well, you can imagine where I tell them to stick it, and how hard. (Hint: ass, very.) I like it. I like it a lot. I've had enough of Wayne struggling to be a loner from the family he's created and raised (we GET IT already!!), but luckily Robin steps in and snaps ol' Bats out of it pretty quickly. We hope. What's a crime is I'm sure this didn't sell half the issues that that Hush bullshit did, and comparing Hush to this storyline is like comparing a lightning bug to a lightning bolt.

(Bet you can't name that paraphrased quote, can you?)

Rating: The Bat title to buy, if there's to be only one. (I don't really consider Gotham Central to be a "Bat title," FYI.)

Street Angel #2 - This probably would have been a lot funnier if I hadn't read Scurvy Dogs already. Don't get me wrong, I was as enamored with the first issue as anyone else in the blogo-hive, but this issue was just... flat. Kinda tired. Ninjas were funny when The Tick was coming out like OVER A DECADE AGO, but you gotta reach a little harder. Sophomore slump, maybe; all that praise put too much performance anxiety on the creators and this comes out. Maybe anything after the debut issue would feel... less than.

Rating: Well, you know. Still better than most of the shit that comes out on a weekly basis.

The Nail #1 - Surprisingly interesting, though this is issue is all setup. That's fine. The Zombie-isms are definitely present, but stick more to the margins, held there by (I presume) Niles. I'll also say Zombie is about the only guy effectively using thought balloons alongside dialogue balloons to great effect.

Rating: Not bad, not bad.

The Authority: More Kev #2 - Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha... ahem, excuse me, I just... hahahahahahahahahahaha... okay, seriously, okay... hahaha.. ahem. Yes. Right. This is Ennis being bizarre, and if that's your sort of thing, it is impossible to go wrong here. May I also say that this man writes guys-talking-with-guys dialogue better than anyone else around? Kev Hawkins' SAS squad actually sounds like a group of macho guys in fucked-up situations? "This is the thing with the tiger." Oh, lordy.

Rating: Haaaaaahahahahahahahahaha.

She-Hulk #4 - Writer Dan Slott needs to seminars with mandatory attendance by the comic book fields' highest-paid writers. First topic: "How to tell an interesting, complete story in 24 pages while staying consistent with the larger meta-plot." Second topic: "How to make someone laugh from the very first panel." Third topic: "How to make Spider-Man funny again." Seriously, when was the last time Peter Parker was this funny? Bendis just makes him sorta irreverent, Millar's Parker has sort of a weary adultness about him, but this... oh, Peter, where have you been all these years? Anyway. The story is fun, funny, sweet, and just a good time. I'd pay twice the price.

Rating: More and more, a top title to look forward to. Why the fuck aren't you buying this?

Thursday, June 24, 2004

The comedy never stops. 



And here's Shane's, which he must have been making at the exact same time I was making mine.

A Wretched Hive of blah blah blah. 

Now that my long adventure into the wilderness of Birmingham, Alabamer has driven away most of my daily audience, I return to you with another list thingy. Other folks are doing it, so why not me? I'm a bigass trendhopper as it is.

But I don't really wanna do comic book villains. Their "greatness" is fairly scarce, and unless I want my list to sound like everyone else's (Bullseye, Kingpin, etc), I need to cast my net a bit wider. Movies, books, comic books, whatever... though I'm going to stay contemporary and pop culturey, because that's what this list calls for.

Here they are, in no particular order.

THE BASTARD HALL OF FAME

Herr Starr, from Preacher - He's so good because he's so lovable, in his totally misanthropic, bastardly way. He wants to bring the world to order, his order, and he'll turn himself into a monster if that's what it takes. He's pragmatic, he's smart, he's resourceful, and to say that he is ruthless would imply that he had scruples to begin with. He's also entertaining as shit.

Quote: "I... have an erection." When walking down a gauntlet of tanks under his command.

Robert Carlyle as Colqhoun/Ives, in Ravenous - Utterly convincing as the fate-fucked Colqhoun, utterly nefarious as the cannibalistic Colonel Ives. His clever turns of phrase and rather cavalier attitude toward the act of murder and consumption of his fellow humans make Ives a nasty, nasty, nasty man. Witness the pivotal scene at the mouth of the cave, where the whole movie takes a 90 degree turn and marches off in a whole new direction -- Carlyle, the music, the screaming, it all comes together in a chilling (and yet oddly humorous) sequence. In a movie with a number of strong (or at least colorful) performances, Carlyle surpasses them all.

Quote: "I said no food, I didn't say we had nothing to eat. You understand?" Explaining his tale of woe to Ft. Baxter.

Henry Fonda as Frank, in Once Upon a Time in the West - Shane had recommended Lee Van Cleef from The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly, but for my money, OUATITW is Leone's best Western, and Frank is by far his most memorable villain. I'm not going to get into the discussion about lovable Henry Fonda being cast as such a bastard being arguably the best stunt-casting ever, because I wasn't alive when the movie came out so I can't appreciate what a shock it was to the audience of the time. But this motherfucker did shoot a young boy in cold blood after said boy had watched his entire family get gunned down, and he did bang the Widow McBain while at the same time maneuvering to steal out everything from under her and perhaps murder her in the process. Oh yeah, Frank's a bastard, but he's clever, too, and as liable to bite the hand that pays him as the one he's paid to bite. Those blue eyes, man. Jesus christ.

Quote: "People scare easier when they're dyin'." That may not be exact, I haven't watched the movie in like two weeks.

Pennywise the Clown, from Stephen King's It - The clown that traumatized a generation. It's easy to freak a kid out with a clown, but even in the 6th grade I was pretty savvy to gimmicky horror stunts like that. Pennywise was no stunt. His balloons, his ripping off of little kids' arms, that old drawing of him on a unicycle juggling as behind him a building full of people burned... and that cover art with the green scaly hand! Mary mother of god! Maybe it's way too proletariat of me to love Stephen King's work, but whatever. I don't give a fuck. Pennywise is the real deal, and as anyone who's not been in a coma for the past ten years knows, Tim Curry did a pretty damn good job of bringing him to life.

Quote: "We all float down here." Gah!

The Cluemaster, from Batman titles - Nah, I'm just fucking with you.

Quote: Probably something lame.

The Strangers, from Dark City - I saw this movie on opening day, at like 11am. The theatre was mostly empty (as reflected by the box office receipts.) I was alone. The opening scenes: a confused man wakes up in a hotel room, unaware of who he is or how he got there, and finds the nude body of a carved-up woman by his bed. He gets a phone call from a panicky-voiced man telling him he must leave right now, and as the man flees down the hall, we see an elevator door open... and these motherfuckers step out. Tall, gaunt, pale as snow, dressed in black fedoras and longcoats like some goth kid's vision of Sam Spade -- I audibly inhaled when I saw them. Such raw menace. Sure, The Matrix came on some time later and effectively raped Dark City of its ideas and by extension its impact, but these guys still do it for me.

Quote: Ah... nothing comes to mind specifically, but put it in a creepy British accent, and you're good to go.

Emperor Palpatine, from The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi - When Darth Vader says you're not as forgiving as he is, you are one bad motherfucker. Sure, Palpatine is in the first trilogy a variation on the Cackling Villain, but fuck if he isn't the template on which all other Cackling Villains should be based -- a man of grand vision, immense power, and an undeniably corrupt, evil bent. He's remarkably effective in the newer trilogy too, though I seem to be the rare individual who loved Episode I and thought Episode II was strictly a'ight. No one seems to pick up on what he's doing, the audience least of all, but those who watch Episodes I and II with at least a little bit of their brain operating can see Palpatine tightening the noose around the doomed Republic. Every maneuver is planned, every misstep taken into account and prepared for; Palpatine has mastered that rare trick of taking over while convincing his enemies that they are coming out on top. Palpatine is a mastermind par whatever.

Quote: "So be it... Jedi."

The Smiler, aka Gary Callahan, from Transmetropolitan - Oh, what a bastard. What a total, irredeemable, evil, manipulative, hate-inspiring, loathsome, revolting piece of diseased pigshit. I hated this son of a bitch in ways I have never hated anyone else, real or fictional, and a lot of it has to do with the fact that though all those despicable traits combined into one person are cartoonish, they are all indicative of genuine trends in society. He is every last repulsive tic and foible of humanity, and they went and made him the fucking president. Spider Jerusalem's brand of heroism was virtually defined by his ability to go toe-to-toe with the most powerful man in the world, and you didn't have a comic without the Smiler. The fucker.

Quote: "Yes, General, I am masturbating into the American flag again. It relaxes me. Do you have a problem with it? Would you rather I used you?"

That's all for now. It's late, I'm tired, yadda yadda.

Welcome back to the Ragefuck.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Transmission from a place where they serve sweet tea. 

(I fucking love sweet tea. I don't understand the point of unsweetened tea ordered by anyone but hardcore masochists.)

From The Straight Dope: When the zombies take over, how long till electricity fails?

In a dire, unprepared situation:

Bottom line? My guess is that within 4-6 hours there would be scattered blackouts and brownouts in numerous areas, within 12 hours much of the system would be unstable, and within 24 hours most portions of the United States and Canada, aside from a rare island of service in a rural area near a hydroelectric source, would be without power. Some installations served by wind farms and solar might continue, but they would be very small. By the end of a week, I'd be surprised if more than a few abandoned sites were still supplying power.

In a situation with a bit more prep time:

If the operators and utilities had sufficient advance warning they could take measures to keep the power going for a while. The first thing would be to isolate key portions of the grid, reducing the interties and connections, and then cease power delivery altogether to areas of highest zombie density. After all, it's not like the zombies need light to read or electricity to play Everquest. Whole blocks and zones would be purposely cut off to reduce the potential drains (and to cope with downed lines from zombies climbing poles or driving trucks into transformers). Operators would work to create islands of power plants wherever possible, so if a plant were overrun by zombies and went down it wouldn't drag others down with it. In cooperation with regional reliability coordinators, the plant operators would improve plant reliability by disabling or eliminating non-critical alarm systems that might otherwise shut down a power plant, and ignoring many safety and emissions issues.

Man, I love that shit.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Leaving, on a jet plane... 

So I've got sort of a mini-internship thing going on, heading out today, back a week from Monday. Flying off to beeeee-YOO-tiful Birmingham, Alabama to spend some time on the newspaper stuff there, doing all kinds of fun "I'm a big kid now" stuff.

So in other words I'll be gone for a week.

And how will you entertain yourselves? Well, I've got an idea.

You could visit...

BLOGS BY PEOPLE WHO ARE FUNNIER THAN ME

Eat More People - Rick is a unique, one-of-a-kind soul, and there's plenty of people who are very thankful for that. His blog's sort of an all-purpose writing one, dealing with fiction at large instead of just comics, and it's a good, fun, funny read. Go there or die. Choose wisely.

The Unofficial John Westmoreland Memorial Tribute Webring - Milo, in all of his EISNER NOMINATED glory, seems to be reporting from the very fringes of sanity on a daily basis. The money posts seem to be Gojira, though I like the "regular" stuff (insofar as such a word can be applied) just as well.

Progressive Ruin - Mike has a nose for the weirdest, funniest covers and stories in the days of comic yesteryear, and unlike the rest of these bastards, happens to be a class act. Whenever I comment on a post of his, I sorta feel like the asshole half-brother with no teeth that shows up and makes everyone smile and nod and squirm. It's great!

ChaosMonkey's Abysmal Pit - Mark comments regularly 'round these parts, so you're familiar with him. He had that stellar Comics I Shouldn't Own series going for awhile, and for that alone he'll die first when the revolution comes.

MORE INFORMATIVE BLOGS THAN MINE

Thought Balloons - Duh. Kevin patrols the border between comics and mainstream media like no one else can even come close to, and he's just such a nice young man, too. Chances are you already know about this place, but by plugging Kevin I hope he can mention my name to the Dark Lord the next time he sacrifices a few virgins to maintain his blogging vigilance.

Near Mint Heroes - If Kevin covers the media, Shane covers.. absolutely everything else that could be of interest, ever. His internet prowess is sort of humbling, and I'm convinced he's actually just a netspider turned sentient that likes Booster Gold comics. Well, we all have our pet theories.

Polite Dissent - Scott's a frickin' military MD or something, so it's perverse that I should even be allowed to mention him, as if I were some kind of equal. His main focus is exploring the correct (and frequently incorrect) usage of the medical arts in comics. It doesn't read like a dry textbook, either; check out how upset he got about a particular issue of X-Treme X-Men for a great, great time. I love it when people get really pissed about something they know a lot about. It's edutainment!

Cognitive Dissonance - Johanna quite frankly has her shit together. She talks about comics that never get discussed anywhere else in the blogo-mart, and frequently cites articles and studies in other fields of entertainment for analysis and comparison to the world of comics. Never a meaningless post, unlike, say, every single one of mine.

A COMIC STRIP THAT'LL DO YOU RIGHT

Suburban Tribe - Just discovered this one. Two guys and two girls that know each other via work, and their (mostly) plausible lives. There's a fair amount of absolute laugh-out-loud moments, and the rather distinctive cartooning style is quite effective. This guy could get syndicated if he wanted. As always, you do yourself a disservice if you don't start at the beginning and work your way forward.

Well, that's enough pimping for now, isn't it?

Back in 8 days.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

The Dream Team: The Big Idea 

(Jeff's done his part in this, too. As has Kevin, much as he resisted it.)

Here's what you do.

First, you construct a time machine and go back in time. Not that far, let's just say... oh... to the gestation of the Ultimate universe at Marvel.

Then you let me go into the boardroom and kill everyone and take over, and here's what I do.

I don't let this new universe idea become just an area to rehash the Same Fucking Stories, but everyone's wearing leather this time. No.

I stage the British Invasion. (Okay, the UK Invasion, but "British Invasion" is sexier and has pre-existing connotations.)

I hire in just a few folks to kick off a new Marvel U, call it 617 because I'm fucking clever, and I hand it over to the lads from the UK.

Alan Moore gets named Chief Creative Officer of 617. He's the big cheese, the head honcho, who guides the general direction of all the titles under him and keeps things fresh and invigorating. The writers who handle the titles under him don't follow his orders, per se, but he keeps them all in line and makes sure things are going smoothly.

He also gets writing duties on The Fantastic Four. Why? Because 617 is going to be Moore's baby, and the FF kick it all off. Cassaday gets art duties. I don't care that Cassaday's not from the UK; shut up.

Warren Ellis gets control of the X-Men. Why? Because what they are by all rights embodies everything that Ellis is about: science fiction, specifically the evolution of man beyond his normal qualities, by will or by accident. Art goes to, of course, Darick Robertson.

Grant Morrison gets control of Dr. Strange and the various magical and magic-oriented characters in 617. This one's pretty obvious. Magic has lost its importance in the Marvel U to the point of nonexistence, and there's no one else I'd trust more to make it the vital, truly mind-bending sector of 617 that it needs to be. Magic should be transforming, baffling, frightening, and fascinating. Morrison does that better than just about anyone (okay, except maybe Moore, but he's already busy.) He gets Glenn Fabry, because I like that guy, dammit.

Garth Ennis gets control of Nick Fury, Black Widow, the Punisher, and other various military and military-related characters. So far, the Marvel U has treated the military presence to be either Hulk's punching bags, a collective of James Bonds, or G.I. Joe clones. Ennis is the man to correct this, and correct it properly. I can't decide if the artist should be Steve Dillon or Carlos Ezquerra. I'm leaning toward the former for sentimental reasons.

Who gets the Avengers, you might ask? Or Spider-Man?

Ah, fuck 'em. Who needs 'em?

RULE NUMBER ONE: for six issues, these guys more or less have to play ball. Set up the origins, define the team line-ups, keep the same basic powers and whatever personality traits they want (and throw out the rest), and get the ball rolling.

RULE NUMBER TWO: Keep it basic. We don't really need to see the 617 Owl... ever. No franchise (FF, mutant, military, magic) gets more than three titles per. Crossovers are restricted to three issues a year, and you better have a fucking good reason for it. Make it truly make sense and add to the story, not a ploy to drive up sales.

After that... FREE FOR ALL!

No holds barred. Nothing is sacred. Anyone can die. Anyone can turn. Think Cyclops would be much more interesting starting off as and remaining a villain, maybe as Magneto's trusted lieutenant? Go ahead. You want Mephisto claiming dominion over half the United States -- and succeed in keeping it? Go ahead. You want Jean Grey to die and stay fucking dead? Shit, I'll give you a bonus.

Anything at all. Go wild. Kill whoever you like, just make it worthy of a story. No holds barred, no need to adhere to the regular 616 storylines. Make up new characters. Fuck the status quo square in the pooper. I'm all for it.

Oh, but wouldn't that be wonderful?

(To any of you who might chime in with crap like "oh, why would these artists want to work on someone else's property? only when all of us are doing creator-owned projects will we all be free...", you get a pre-emptive "Shut the fuck up." This is the comic book world equivalent of Fantasy Football, and I'm going to revel in it for a couple days.)

That is all.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Dream Teams. 

Well, everybody's doing it, and who am I to ignore the trends of the blog-hive?

MY AWESOME DREAM TEAMS

Frank Miller and Lynn Varley, on Power Girl: Because that'd be really fucked up, don't you think?

Jeff Parker, on Black Widow: Well, he likes the international espionage, doesn't he? And the parallels between a relatively free-agent Black Widow and his Interman are pretty obvious. Make her ditch the cat suit and stick to something a bit more traditional, and you've got yourselves a solid book.

Jeph Loeb and, I dunno, Michael Turner or something, on West Coast Avengers: Because they deserve no better. Fucking hacks. The fanboys would probably make this a 150,000-sales-per-issue title, though.

Steven Grant and Charlie Adlard, on The Punisher: Why Steven Grant on that title? If you're asking that question, please leave my blog right the fuck now. Why Charlie Adlard? Because though he keeps a consistent style, he's still very much a chameleon of an artist: witness the relatively cleaned-up fun of Astronauts in Trouble or the pavement-tough edge of Codeflesh. The latter will be called for. Keep it B&W, too, and no grayscale either. Fits with Monsieur Castle's worldview.

Chris Claremont and John Byrne on Uncanny Wolverine: Here's my brainstorm: instead of having Wolverine appear in half the books that Marvel puts out every month, why not just condense all those appearances into one all-new book? Follow the exploits of like 15 Wolverines on one team as they wear eyepatches, say smug things at each other, and pop claws threateningly at half the Western Hemisphere whenever they run into the slightest bit of resistance. Sadly, I see this book making about a billion dollars.

Mike Mignola, Ghost Rider: So long as he gives GR a brain. I wouldn't mind seeing a big flaming skull done up Mignola-style for 100+ panels an issue.

Brian Azzarrello and Eduardo Risso, on Kingpin: Duh. No capes or masks, though. Just Kingpin, his crime cartel, and the streets.

Michael Lark, on Hellblazer: Okay, any writer I can think of to go with Lark has already been on the title. Hellblazer is like the farm team for Ken's Favorite Writers. As has been established in Gotham Central, though, Lark is pretty comfortable drawing trenchcoats, rain, and smoking. Write that man a check!

Denis Leary and Frank Quitely, on Green Arrow: So I'm watching The Ref the other night, and Leary's got this pointy goatee and mustache thing going on... and he's ranting, right? At Kevin Spacey, about why he hates upper-middle class types. And it clicks, baby. This guy is the Green fucking Arrow. Marvel gets "Hollywood" writers all the time, why can't I? Imagine the piss and vinegar, imagine the humor, imagine slyness inserted in the cracks between huge dialogue balloons by Quitely. It'd be a thing of beauty.

Angelina Jolie and Rosario Dawson, on My Bed: That would rule.

Garth Ennis and Joe Kubert, on Captain America: Stick with me, here. I'm not talking about modern Cap. I'm talking about WW2 Cap, and without the fucking uniform already (maybe the mask, but that's it.) Make Cap a prisoner of war, give him a German counterpart to fight, whatever; just fuck with his head while taking him seriously. At that point in his career Cap is a guy hepped up as a PR move and not "the embodiement of an ideal," so he can still be quite human. Me, I'd love to see Cap with a goddamn Thompson and a five o'clock shadow, kicking ass all through the Western Front.

Andy Diggle and Jock, on Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Retrograded as well, to the 1960's. The title would require both humor and intense action, along with a highly distinctive visual style, and this pairing have got all that and then some.

More to come, on my next post, titled "Dream Teams: The Big Idea." It's big, baby. Big like my johnson.

This is fun, I gotta admit, even if it's totally fanboyish.

Just one of those days. 



Hmm. This looks like a slight deviation from previous covers. Everyone seems relatively... okay with things. Even if they could use new pants.

Hmm.

The Funny. 

Courtesy Fedx:



(So, no blogging today. I had a lot to do! Leave me alone.)

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Funny drink names. 

I remembered, once upon a time, that I used to live with a guy who was going through one of those three-week bartending schools. He'd try out new concoctions all the time, and he had a knack for great drink names. My two favorites were the

SCORCHING CASE OF HERPES

or the

RAGING LESBIAN ORGY

...both of which are great drink names.

Random Schmo: "Hey, barkeep, I'd like a Raging Lesbian Orgy."

Barkeep: "Wouldn't we all."

Rick had a pretty good one too.

Random Schmo: "Hey, barkeep, I'd like a Blowjob from Steve Guttenberg."

Barkeep: "Wouldn't we... wait, what? Fuck off!"

So come on. Hit me up with some good drink names.

(I suppose I should do some actual comics blogging soon, huh? It's cool. I got another one of those whopper posts germinating inside the carcass of an ex-girlfriend even as we speak.)

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Calling all manga enthusiasts. 

First, a huge shout-out to Annie Carlson of I'm Blue, because she's hooking me up with a cornucopia of E3 swag for no other reason than she is filled, as a particular publisher might say, with the milk of human kindness. Remember Annie? She of the awesome Batman open mike thingy?

(I also secretly suspect she's giving me stuff because I rule.)

So go hit up her strip. If you do tabletop RPGs, or computer games, or console games, or you like The Funny, then you're in good hands.

Now. Manga. Because I have ruled that I don't have enough shit draining my already laughable disposable income, I've decided to expand my horizons a bit and get in on this whole "dancing circles around Western comics" thing. But I don't really know where to start.

I picked up the first volume of Lone Wolf & Cub, because duh, and THE ROOMMATE has lent me a copy of the first Trigun volume (that I have not read yet)...

Quick question:

If the manga is done in what we would call back-to-front order, does that mean my eye should flow right to left on big two-page splashes?

Anyway. I need some guidance, here. I've already heard some stuff mentioned on the blogo-mart (Iron Wok Jan, GTO, Battle Royale), but I figure the regular readers of my blog might know my tastes fairly well, and assign titles accordingly.

Any ideas? Or do you want me to get specific about what I like?

Memento Mori 

Well, okay, you probably know this already. But.

Journalista is officially dead.

Long live Thought Balloons.

Monday, June 07, 2004

A question for the viewers at home. 

David wishes to know:

I'm running an RPG based on charaters like the Shadow. I've been running the campaign for a while, but I want to make sure I'm doing stuff right. Or at least, close to it. The characters are based in 1923 Chicago, but the "Golden Age of Heroes" is obviously right around the corner. Some have powers, but none that really throw things off. Any recommendations for comic books to read?

You have your assignments, Viewers At Home. Answer in the Comments section if you could.

A blow-by-blow account of the Best News of the Day. 

Creed breaks up.

(Will's response: "So I guess there is a god. What a great day to be alive.")

Which I find via Shane. Who finds it via Augie.

The article in italics, my response in ... regularese:

"The biggest rock band of the past decade has broken up."

FUCK. YOU. Biggest rock band of the past decade? According to who? Balding, ponytailed record exec's in their early 40's? Note to idiots: record sales do not properly represent a band's importance.

""We had gotten together two or three times and nothing happened," Tremonti explained. "We got our instruments and played, but neither of us was taking it seriously. We were just running in circles. There wasn't a vibe like on the previous records. It felt very joblike. We knew that it would take us years to get a record out.""

Translation: We realized we are FUCKING HACKS producing the same tired, uninspired, let's-rock-out-but-bear-a-positive-message "rock."

Fuck you, Tremonti. Rock isn't positive. Rock isn't about holding arms wide open, or bringing your baby daughter out on stage. That shit may sell with the Disney FM crowd, but the rest of us want to string you up by your quasi-mullet and take potshots at you with flaming scalpels.

Rock is about snorting coke off a dead underage hooker's nipple while your guitarist glues the maid to the ceiling in your fucking hotel room.

"The animosity apparently began to churn two years ago, while Creed were promoting 2001's Weathered on a tour that Tremonti and drummer Scott Phillips described as long and grueling."

Cry me a fucking river, Phillips. There are a hundred thousand bands who would sacrifice their mothers to Satan to get the kind of deal handed to them that you guys did. Those people will work half their lives and scrape the money together month after month for the privilege of doing what some record exec handed to you, because you happened to fit the Trend of the Week and were unthreatening enough to appeal to a wide audience (of morons who want unthreatening rock.)

"Among the ventures that Stapp was exploring was a clothing line called Screamline and forays into acting."

No comment necessary.

"The pinnacle of Creed's problems took place in Chicago in December 2002. Whether Stapp was inebriated or simply sick, as he had claimed, his performance was so terrible that some members of the crowd sued the band for sucking."

I never quite figured out how to feel about that particular lawsuit. I mean sure, it was funny. If I were the judge I would've laughed. Probably if I was the lawyer who got chosen to prosecute, I'd giggle and say "sure, fuck it, why not?"

On the other hand, these people paid money to go to a Creed concert, and then bitched about it sucking. That's kinda like going to a Jimmy Buffett concert and complaining about how you kept running into your dad's friends all night, isn't it?

Maybe these people finally figured out, that fateful night in 2-oh-oh-2, that they'd been paying a lot of money and devoting a lot of time to really shitty music. They were confused. They were angry. They were perhaps a little scared. They wanted their goddamn money back for being brainwashed.

At the same time: fuck 'em. What do you want, a disclaimer on Creed tickets that says "WARNING: WILL GRANT ADMISSION TO A CREED CONCERT"?

"To the workaholic Tremonti this wasn't acceptable, so he figured he'd vent his creative juices in a side project.

Although the speed-metal-minded Downshifter never got off the ground (Tremonti had envisioned working with Hatebreed's Jamey Jasta and Slipknot's Joey Jordison), just the mere thought that his songwriting partner would apply his talents elsewhere bothered Stapp.
"

Oh, man, we completely missed the comedic album of the year right there.

"Whether you loved them or hated them, Creed had always inspired strong sentiments in anyone who heard their music. Tremonti and Phillips just want the band's contributions to be recognized.

"When Creed came out on the radio seven years ago, there was a lot of poppy radio music," Tremonti said. "I think 'My Own Prison' was the first song [in a long time] with a serious tone and a message behind it. After that, a lot of radio programmers started programming more serious-sounding rock and roll, and I think that's what I'm most proud of. Creed perhaps opened the doors for some other bands who may have had a message."
"

I'd comment on this, but I'm afraid I might break my keyboard in anger. There's so much being said here that's TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY FALSE I wouldn't know where to begin, just... RRRRRRRRRRRRR!

FUCK!


Breathe, Ken. Breathe.

""Even if you loved us or hated us," Phillips emphasized, "remember us.""

No. Fuck you. I will not succumb to what you and I both know is your last stab at immortality. You're goddamn right I hated you, you and everything you stood for, you and everything you ushered in and allowed, and the ability to write you off completely (after already ignoring your increasingly even-by-your-standards poor ejecta) is a welcome one. Languish in obscurity, asshole.

Anyway. This would have been better if it had happened at the height of their career, but... one horribly shitty overinflated worthless drivel-merchant band down, 700,000 to go.

Reaganomicizer. 

I was going to refrain from making any comments about Reagan's death, because yes, it sucks when someone much beloved dies. Even if he's not much beloved by me. Yeah, I think he did horrible things for this country and sculpted its psyche in such a way that we could feasibly fuck up our earned sympathy after 9/11 in precisely the way we did without feeling a pinge of guilt about it. "Trickle-down economics" is code for "Grab your ankles and lube up, bucky, because this is going to hurt."

But calling him "the devil"? Okay, let's try to get a grip, here. That's the same kind of unattractive, polarizing rhetoric that makes the rabid right look so bad. After you say something like that, the only difference between you and Ann Coulter is that she has much nicer legs.

It also implies a willing, knowing evil. Reagan didn't fit that description. Sure, he was willfully ignorant on a lot of topics... but that's not the same as being actively complicit. Being a stupid man is not the same as being a bad man.

Milo George said all that had to be said in one sentence, thankfully:

"It's quite refreshing to see a flag-draped coffin on the mainstream media, isn't it?"

ZING!


Meeting of the masters. 

This is about the greatest thing ever, this is.

Frank Miller and Will Eisner talking at each other for 250 pages. Yeah, I know it was announced awhile ago, but no release date ever seemed all that official... till now. I understand Eisner and Miller don't always see eye to eye on anything, either. That can only make things more interesting.

July 14th. Mark your calendars.

(I have no funny comments to add.)

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Startling blogger confession! 

ITEM!

Rick at Eat More People confesses: "I truly am a woman in a man’s body"!

Read the rest here!

Exclamation point!

Saturday, June 05, 2004

That's funny, I often scream that during sex. 





(Yeah, it's cover/poster madness here at Ringwood Ragefuck. I owe this one to disobey.com's rather massive collection of horror movie poster scans.)

That's what you get for wearing a yellow sweater, junior. 




Boy, nothing quite screams "BUY ME FOR YOUR CHILD, PARENTS OF AMERICA!" like hands reaching out of a comic book to throttle a kid, eh?

Goddammit, I love EC Comics.

(More EC cover greatness can be found here.)

Friday, June 04, 2004

For my personal reference. 

This is for me, so I don't forget. The rest of you can move along now, maybe comment on what you think horror is.

Newsarama article talking with retailers about small press books.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

"I never drink... wine." 

Johanna Draper Carlson asks, "What is horror?"

John Jakala
says, "Hmm. If only there were a comics blogger knowledgeable about the horror genre who could stop by and help us out."

(The cow says, "moo!")

Jakala was probably talking about Rick, but when has that ever stopped me from sticking my nose in?

My overly verbose post:

Matt Maxwell: Horror is Science Fiction without the science. For instance, if "Walking Dead" had a story turn where the zombies were revealed to be the byproduct of a virus from outer space and that there was a team of researchers who'd found a vaccine in time to save humanity, then it would seem far more science fiction than horror.

Me: I can't buy that, because that can just as easily be turned around on sci-fi. For instance, in Night of the Living Dead, the reasoning for the dead rising up to consume the living is explained as radiation trailed into the atmosphere by a falling satellite. In Day of the Dead, much of the movie is spent on the debate between the half-mad scientific mind in the Last Bunker, Dr. Logan, and the half-mad military wing. Dr. Logan is intent on training the zombies and figuring out what makes them tick. He even gives some passable explanations for the zombies' peculiar nature (the impulse to eat flesh, etc) to the main character and, by extension, to the audience.

Does that make NotLD or DotD sci-fi? HELL no. It just gives the audience a quickie reason, some back story, and gets right back to the horror. Being horror has nothing to do with explanation or premise or McGuffin and everything to do with mood and underlying theme.

(For a long time I thought sci-fi was just fantasy or horror with scientific trappings -- witness Star Wars or Aliens, as you cited, respectively -- but that's nonsense. Each of these genres may borrow from the other, since the three are more closely related than any other genre is, but they are all seperate and distinct entities.)

Sure, a lot of horror doesn't rise above genre conventions; the bad horror crap prefers to wallow in the conventions rather than utilize them as tools to get to something deeper. TWD does a great job of going farther and deeper, using horror conventions to highlight the beast in men and women; crap like the Scream trilogy is all ABOUT the conventions and navel gazing, and as an example of the genre is completely worthless.

What really, really, REALLY ticks me off in the discussion of any genre fiction (and this is not pointing fingers here, I'm just chatting), but especially those of horror and superhero, is when someone looks at an exemplary piece of work from either one -- say, Silence of the Lambs or Dark Knight Returns -- and says "oh, that's not just some HORROR film, that's a good psychological thriller," or "that's not a superhero comic! That's a commentary on blah blah blah blah." These people apparently refuse to recognize that horror (or superhero) works produce a hell of a lot of crap, JUST LIKE ANY OTHER GENRE, but the genre itself CAN be deep and CAN explore meaningful themes, in the right hands. Yes, those "surpass the genre" stories are rare, but that's what makes them special. If excellent storytelling were easy, everyone would be doing it.

[ /rant ]

Nor can I buy that horror is defined by its ability to inspire fear, as... another person said and I forget who it was. Sorry. :)

Yeah, a lot of horror exists specifically to illicit primal fear reactions (Texas Chainsaw Massacre is pretty much an onslaught, so relentless that the viewers' nerves are entirely frayed by the time credits roll, and Halloween is a much more subtle exercise in evoking fear), but there's plenty of room for dread, misery, and introspection. Pretty much no direct fear is inspired in Anne River Siddon's (I'm almost positive I spelled her name wrong) House Next Door; the book's overwhelming mood is impending dread, worked up to gothic proportions.

I think horror is, at its root, an exploration and examination of the baser side of humanity. Selfishness, greed, arrogance, and man's basic inhumanity to man (to bring out the eldest of chestnunts.) What's a vampire or a cannibal but a person who benefits off the misery and pain of others, and does so willingly? What's a werewolf but an unchained id let loose to wreak all the damage societal and moral restraints keep locked down? What's a ghost but lingering guilt, or rage, or regret, or sorrow, that a person just simply CANNOT let go? What's a zombie apocalypse scenario but an interesting and colorful way to strip away the excess garbage of everyday life to show how people TRULY interact with one another?

(People eat the latter up by the truckload, by the way. What else do you think the TV show Survivor is?)

So, ah. That's what horror is, to me. I hope that answers the question posed.

Disturbing news. 

From THE ROOMMATE, I get a link to see exactly how long it would take before I got cornered in the showers were I to end up in the Big House.

And I quote:

It would take you 11 days to become Bubba's bitch!

You are worth 3 cartons of cigarettes and 2 porno mags!


I don't even last two weeks, man. Also, they don't specify what kind of porn the magazines contain. I figure I'm worth maybe 2 issues of Juggs, and about 1.5 issues of Hustler. But, you know. I'm not an expert.

How about you?

Cutting, roughly. 

Well, Greg Gatlin said, and Greg Gatlin delivered. There's some sneak preview pages up, along with some plot summaries, for the Dead@17: Rough Cut special thingy.

Like so.




Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Purty. 





Couriers 3: The Ballad of Johnny Funwrecker.

Nuff said.

"Duck Hunt with a Nazi twist"? 

So I'm engaging in a little illegal software pirating with my buddy Wil, exchanging a WAD file from Final Doom because his is corrupt. The download's going slow, so he checks around online on pir8 sites (or whatever the kids call them these days on their "inter-net") for the file, and he finds...

The Aryan Network games.

There's a part of me that has to laugh because, I mean, come on. If I felt better about humanity as a race, I'd say all of this was a joke.

But of course it's not. Which makes me want to take something blunt and apply it, harshly, to a large segment of my fellow white brethern. Motherfuckers can't even spell, and the page is littered with broken image links, so... I'm pretty sure we have nothing to fear.

"Words in Germen Only" indeed.

Hey, jackass: Do you think the "master race" has any room for complete and total fucktards?

(BEST PART: Check out that link on the bottom, to vote for this site on the Top 100 in Nationalism! Quasi-Nazis have webrings? That's fucking adorable.)

PANTS STATUS = NEGATIVE 

HOUSTON, WE HAVE NO PANTS.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Well. Son of a bitch. 

Via Shane, in his typically surly fashion:

Western Tales of Terror is a brand new comic anthology featuring some the biggest and brightest talents in the comics industry, come together for an Old West blood-n-guts filled good time.

That sort of has "Ken Lowery Must Give Us All His Money" written all over it.

Bastards.

Quote Fest 2004! 

For that inimitable title featuring ex-Menudians in peril, Scurvy Dogs:

"Have you ever been on a ship at sea? Ridden the tall waves and smelled the crisp sea air, with the wind blowing on your face? Well, neither have the guys who made SCURVY DOGS, but it's still pretty funny." - Some Asshole at the Mall (actually me)

"SCURVY DOGS is a suitable replacement for local anesthetic if you ever get a root canal." - A Dentist You Never Want to Visit (still me)

"Every time you buy an issue of SCURVY DOGS, an angel loses its cherry." - Jesus Christ (me again!)

Interrogation time, kids! 

A sequence of questions I snapped up from Herr Bacardi:

1. Do you tend to go to the nearest store, the best store, any store, or does it matter?

Best store, which is NOT the nearest one. There's like five comic book shops between me and Zeus, but Zeus is the only one around offering a 15% discount... and they bag ALL comics you buy, pull list or no.

2. Ladies, what books do you tend to purchase, or what kind would you like to purchase (if you are a male please leave blank or supply what a girlfriend reads)?

Sadly, Mrs. Ringwood is dead. But I made a lovely suitcase out of her.

3. What one thing would you add or change about your most frequented store (i.e. What is the worst thing about the store)?

It's hard to get them to remember to order me stuff. They stock a great, vast selection of TPBs, from Ultimate titles to AiT/PlanetLar to Slave Labor, and it's in a relatively cosmopolitan section of town, so they have by necessity a very wide variety of selection... but shit, man, how many times I gotta ask for the second Nocturnals TPB before it shows up?

4. What one thing would you not change (i.e. What is the best thing about the store)?

Oh, the staff. I get baffled every time someone talks about elitist, snobby, unhelpful staff, because these guys (and gal) are just about the most helpful people around. They know their shit, they're accessible, they're funny, they're good with recommendations (they got me started on Demo and Y the Last Man), they kept me informed on what my favorite writers were doing before I discovered the blogo-mart, etc, etc. Good folks.

5. Do you read any small press comic books currently? Which one(s)? (examples: Lone Star Press, Avatar)

Sure. If you write a good story I'll give it a shot, I don't care who you are. DC and its imprints probably make up the largest percentage of my purchases, but I buy AiT/PlanetLar, Avatar, Rocket, SLG, and a pretty hefty amount of Oni TPBs. See? People can like superhero comics and B&W indie books. It's madness!

6. What back issues do you buy?

Uh, none of the above. Only time I did this was when my store had its annual 75% off all backstock sale... then I go fucking mad, trying to catch obscure works by writers I like, and getting the last parts of the Hitman series not collected in TPB (WHY, DC, WHY!) So that's where I get my Jenny Sparks mini, or Adventures in the Rifle Brigade, and so on and so forth.

7. How do you decide what comic book to buy? Writer, artist, character, word of mouth, etc?

All of the above, as J.B. said. Writer gets precedent over all other factors, because I come to a comic book for story first and everything else second. (If something was written by Chuck Austen but the art was, in this bizarro hypothetical, Eduardo Risso, I'd be seriously torn about buying it.) I don't generally follow characters unless someone good's writing them. Word of mouth can go a long way -- it's why I'm on 75% of the series I'm on now.

8. Do you buy strictly current age comic books or do you buy older comic books? What kinds?

All shapes and colors, brother. Older comic books are necessarily more expensive, so I don't deal with them as much -- and their collections are hardly less so. As it stands, I'm setting aside $100 for some of those EC slipcase collections.

9. How do you feel about graded comic books?

To be blunt: they're for fools. Do you buy these comics to enjoy them, or what? That's like buying a toy and keeping it in the packaging. Oh wait... you probably do that too, don't you?

10. What comic book related merchandise do you buy?

Hmm. I bought a Viper Comics hat. A Punisher skull cap I won at the premiere. I have the odd action figure, almost all given to me as gifts. Some posters. A neat bust of the Pilgrim from Just a Pilgrim I bought in a moment of weakness ("but it was on SALE!"). The PVC figure set from Dark Knight Strikes Again. A mug with the Punisher skull on it.

11. What do you read if you are not reading comic books?

Name it. I read Entertainment Weekly and Premiere on a regular basis, as far as magazines go. Nonfiction, biography, autobiography, fiction... just got done reading that Inner Views: Filmmakers in Conversation book, read Fast Food Nation not so long ago, now I'm reading an anthology of Victorian ghost stories.

12. What do you buy at comic book conventions?

Not a lot. I got a signed print from Michael Lark at the last one I went to (I've been to two, so far), plus his book of sketches... the aforementioned mug, Viper Comics hat, and a fair portion of posters were gotten at the two cons I've been to... and that's it. I don't go there to buy shit. Well, okay, I do... but that's secondary to meeting the pro's. That's the real con payoff, for me.

For ze writing of ze papers. 

Scryptic Studios.

Kevin Melrose is trying to be all stealthy about it, not talking about it on his blog or anything, but he's got a hand in this. It's an all-purpose writer's resource for the comic book scene (and beyond), and by god if this wasn't sorely needed. Larry observes rightly that there'll be the usual critics with their stupid snark bullshit, but I dunno how this can be anything but positive.

Oh, it's way too late to think this hard. 

So the post isn't "new," in the sense that I can be slow to get to things, but I just now sat down and really read it. And it's fucking fascinating.

From Ezrael's fantabulous blog, Once I noticed I was on fire, I decided to relax and enjoy the fall:

Well, let us consider. First off, it's probably untrue that the artist is wholly without influence on what he or she creates... anyone who has read a few books by Samuel Clemens knows there is a similarity to them that indicates co-authorship. Likewise, an examination of works by Picasso or Brughel tells you who made them: the author is stamped onto his or her work, the painter or sculptor shows through in the art itself. This goes for almost any creative endeavour. However, consider the possibility that no one, be she artist or lab technician or politician, really resides wholly and separately within the self. Julian Jaynes theorized that humanity evolved the self fairly recently, no later than the Bronze Age, and that the presence of gods and so on in ancient Homeric epics was an example of the mind's evolution... that before a certain point, when a man wanted to make war he would go and consult the oracles and his own fragmented psyche would speak to him and he would consider it the promptings of a god. Imagine that Jaynes was wholly incorrect. What if it isn't that we had to create a single self out of many selves at all... what if our intellect, our vaunted creativity, our human individuality and inventiveness is the result of our brains learning to tune in to a higher existence? In essence, what makes us human does not reside in our brains at all... we draw from outside the 'divine spark', the inspiration (from the Latin for 'breathing in' as they believed that we drew in such with every breath we took) that allows us to create a work of art, a book of mysterious insight, or even a powerful new weapon that drives small spears into the breasts of charging enemies or fleeing prey.

An interesting idea, and one I entertain from time to time. I'm not sure I agree; or, at least, I don't agree exactly. It's kind of late, my brain's tired, so I'm going to try to do this point by point... and most likely it'll just come off like a random scattering of thoughts. Well: cope.

1) This sounds vaguely similar to Alan Moore's concept of "ideaspace" (or whatever it was he called it.) I've only read about this concept secondhand, so... apologies all around if I get the details wrong. The basic concept is that there's a sort of, well, an "ideaspace," a realm of human experience and knowledge and creativity that all humans, but especially artistic, mathematical, and scientific types, are in tune with. This is why you might see general ideas, catchphrases, pop culture trends, and similar stories ("memes," though I'm coming to loathe that term) pop up all over the place at relatively the same time, with no previous interconnection between the sources. The idea is that humans all over the globe are tapping into the same parts of "ideaspace" all at the same time.

Me, I think calling this phenomenon "ideaspace" and assigning it metaphysical baggage is a way of putting shiny rims on the really shitty Pontiac that is "social trend." It's unnecessary and gaudy. I am an absolute believer in the butterfly effect, that all occurences are a product of incalculable number of previous elements, from individual psychology to what the weather was like 100 years and 5 days ago; I get plenty a hairy eyeball when I suggest that humans are essentially robots, whose output is nothing more than what input is received by the world (nurture) processed through random genetic make-up (nature). We are, in short, fabulously sexy computers who wear socks.

In short (too late, ha ha), I believe free will is an illusion, a label slapped over unfathomable number of causes-and-effects that our minds simply aren't big enough to grasp. It's easier (and more romantic) to say we have souls and real, true, personal identities, than it is to actually figure out what drives us.

2) "Julian Jaynes theorized that humanity evolved the self fairly recently, no later than the Bronze Age, and that the presence of gods and so on in ancient Homeric epics was an example of the mind's evolution... that before a certain point, when a man wanted to make war he would go and consult the oracles and his own fragmented psyche would speak to him and he would consider it the promptings of a god."

Eh, all right, but I think this is fancifying a pretty pedestrian occurence, as with the "ideaspace" bit above. One of the most brilliant things I've ever heard was when an english teacher of mine said that a society's complexity could be measured by its popular fiction. And what were stories of Greek god debaucheries and demi-god heroes slaying monsters but their time and place's popular fiction? They might not have called it fiction, but it was certainly entertainment.

Relatively simple civilizations would produce something as morally straightforward as Beowulf, while a more complex society might produce, I don't know, Dude, Where's My Car?

(Har har, but you get my point.)

So I'm not seeing the evolution of self where Jaynes is, enamored as I am with the idea of a person going to the Oracles at Delphi or some such to consult their fractured psyche. I'm seeing the evolution of society.

Hmm. I'm sure I had more, but I've lost my thread.

Talk amongst yourselves.

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