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Saturday, May 28, 2005

Further proof that I am SO the shit. 

I have guest-starred in a Lea Hernandez strip.

I am SO MUCH FUCKING COOLER than you are. (Scroll up. I'm in the top left panel.)

Carry on with your lives, now, if you can summon the will.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

A bit more modern horror lamenting. 

So I just saw the TV commercial for High Tension for the zillionth time this week, and it strikes me again as it's struck me before: the weird action hero empowerment that inevitably consumes the last 20 or 30 minutes of most modern horror movies.

You know how it goes: the first 70 minutes, the heroine runs around in a tight top, screaming in fear, until she and her ever-dimishing band of scrappy Former WB Stars get their hands on some shotguns, the featured rock song from the soundtrack kicks in, and It's Clobberin' Time. Freddy vs. Jason certainly takes slasher film material and turns it into strictly a brawlfest, and the so-bad-it-hurts-to-type-the-title House of the Dead seems fixated on ridiculous, overlong sequences of blowing zombies away. Even the immensely entertaining remake of Dawn of the Dead falls into this trap.

(If one of you has seen the remake of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, I'd be curious to know if it follows this climax trend, rather than the truer-to-the-tone ending of the original.)

Even as I type this, I realize the trend isn't all that new; Aliens springs to mind as a movie that strove to combine both horror and action elements, gradually shifting from the former to the latter over its 135 minutes. Perhaps that's simply a testament to James Cameron's skill, or perhaps we've just lost our way.

I'll go with the default explanation: video games are, obviously, to blame.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Lea Hernandez Indoctrination Book 1 - Killer Princesses 

Two people have told me now -- Lea Hernandez in person, and Mark Waid in the introduction -- that they are slightly taken aback by how acidic and naughty Killer Princesses is. Waid in particular can't reconcile what he reads coming out of Gail Simone's poisonous pen with her (apparently) sweet, reserved demeanor. The surprise he describes is palpable, and a good chunk of the introduction focuses specifically on this point.

Me? I'm not particularly surprised. It's no secret that just about every great comedian (and comedic storyteller, and humorist in general) holds within them an unhealthy amount of rage. The acidic kind of rage. The poisonous kind of rage. That urge to scream at the world in frustration... to really let everyone have it, once and for all.

Sometimes the humorist puts that bile right out in the open air for everyone to see; indeed, I've done a not-bad job of staying in your line of sight by that very tactic.

But, as always, it's the quiet ones you really gotta look out for. The unassuming ones. The safe ones. Like Simone.

Now, I make Killer Princesses sound pretty deadly serious; or, worse, annoyingly allegorical. It's neither. No story featuring three dim-bulb sorority sisters blithely assassinating vaguely important people after painting their fingernails in rainbow patterns can be all that serious. This Simone at the funniest I've ever seen her, a nice tonic for the increasingly serious Birds of Prey. In my professional opinion, the line "I do Kiegels when I get excited" deserves a place in the national psyche on par with "I'm Rick James, bitch."

It's funny shit. But it's funny shit with a bite.

While the high concept -- adorably clueless sorority sisters whacking the brilliant and powerful while talking like they might as well be at a frat party -- is enough of a seller, the story is considerably cleverer than that. Who better to use as killers than shallow princesses with no sense of consequence? We never know, really, who the girls are assigned to kill... and why should we? The girls don't care, so we don't either.

But there I go again, making it all sound serious and preachy, when the whole thing rarely wavers from its chaotically playful premise. But it isn't the playfulness that gives this one its aftertaste; it's the subtle bite, the sneaking suspicion that Simone pounded rather than typed some of these lines.

Lea Hernandez is the perfect choice for artist. Her style is fun, buoyant, joyful, and playful (there's that P-word again), suckering you in to the wackiness of the proceedings before that same wackiness adds dimension to the satirical elements that slowly uncover themselves as the story progresses. At first you laugh with the girls, then you begin to laugh at them, and by the end you're still laughing, but you kind of despise them. Hernandez made the observation to me that there's no one actually likable in the whole damn thing, and her understanding of that basic truth informs the illustration.

Give it a shot. This one will make you laugh your ass off first, and stick with you uneasily afterward.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Leaving, on a jet plane... 

So, in what has become a sinkhole of inconvenience, my sister requires my assistance with her two kids in the great city of Birmingham, Alabama. Long story short: surgery requires that she not pick up anything heavier than 5 pounds for awhile. Kids aged 7 months and 2 years both violate that rule. How dare she!

Enter Nanny Ringwood.

Frightened yet?

I'm going to be gone until a week from Friday, and I'm not sure what my online capability will be (if any.) So, if I'm not posting, that's why.

I HAVE packed away a lot of TPBs for reading while I'm there, and, if I'm online-capable, I should be posting some reviews the bide the time... or at least writing them on my laptop for posting when I return.

Don't cry for me, Argentina. Just wish me a safe flight.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Batgirl, as requested. (And cuz I want to gloat a little.) 




Gorgeous, right?

You know what the best part is?

It's MINE and not YOURS!

(Lea, I have a much bigger scan if you want one. Drop me a line.)

Monday, May 09, 2005

CAPE 2005 

So that was a roaring success.

Now, I know there were a ton of other Free Comic Book Day events Saturday. All across the country, professionals, fans, retailers, and curious parties came out to show their love and to explore the many, many, many different styles and entertainments the field can offer.

But I can safely say none of you were at an event as cool as CAPE.

From 10 AM to 6 PM on Saturday, Zeus Comics hosted what was essentially a mini-convention inside its doors and outside in the parking lot, under a tent. Pro's showed up in their numbers. Untold boxes of quarter comics were pillaged and torn asunder. Local and semi-local publishers got their product in front of exactly the kind of people they need to get their product in front of. Fanboy Radio was there, doing what it is Fanboy Radio does, which is mostly asking bad questions to smart people... but they did a pretty good job pulling tickets for the raffle.

Ah, the raffle.

Every artist contributed a theme sketch that were drawn for every hour. Yours truly won a sketch in an event that can only be called The Coolest Thing That Happened to Anyone The Entire Day. I'll get to that in a second.

I believe the final headcount was somewhere in the neighborhood of 800 guests.

Snippets:

1) It's official: Lea Hernandez is the coolest person ever born. If you were in the running for that title, sorry, collect your gift basket and go the fuck back home. Hers is a name that's impossible to avoid online, and I've heard so much good about everything she's done that I simply walked up to her table and asked her to indoctrinate me. (Her 24 hour comic in print form was the easiest $5 I've ever spent.) Within five minutes we were speculating on the size, shape, and texture of Neil Gaiman's feces, and swapping tales of newfound exhibitionism in women who've had breast reconstruction surgery. I also found out her biopsy made her want to vomit quite a lot.

You know what that is?

That is fucking magic.

So I walked away with signed and sketched copies of Killer Princesses, Texas Steampunk I & II, Mr. Pluto, and Rumble Girls.

2) Miles Gunter, of NYC Mech fame, loves his work. He loves his work. The sense is palpable, as is his love for the city of New York, conveyed in every fucking panel of their comic. This is what comics is, people: a small group of creators who absolutely cannot wait to show you what comes next.

3) The Coolest Thing That Happened to Anyone The Entire Day: Fanboy Radio's doing drawings every hour for sketches, right? I've bought 12 raffle tickets myself ($10 total, and I'm told they sold 700 of these bad boys), so every time a drawing comes up I weave myself over to the raffle booth to hear the winner. In these kinds of things I have an uncanny luck for winning exactly what I want, so it's worth it to me to check out.

The DJ guy doing the drawing is pretty much exactly how you'd expect a radio personality to be (and I have some experience there), but for comics, and the prize he hoists up is none other than Lea Hernandez's colored sketch of Batgirl. She's even in purple, like the TV show Batgirl. And I think to myself: "Self, that would be pretty fucking rad to win."

So God stepped in and made it so.

Fanboy Radio DJ Guy hoists the sketch up to show it off before the drawing, holding it by the very corner of the page. Did I mention it'd been windy as shit all day? Well, the Hand of God kicked up the gust and the sketch went flying out of Fanboy Radio DJ Guy's hand and straight in in the direction of the parking lot outside the tent.

And thwapped straight into my chest about 20 feet away. I was the only guy even remotely in its path.

Scott Kurtz, whose table is two down from the Fanboy Radio people, points at me and says "It's his."

Lea Hernandez, who's standing nearby and is perhaps fondly remembering our Neil Gaiman Feces talk ("I bet it looks like Despair"), concurs. Loudly.

And so the sketch becomes mine. It chose me as worthy.

FUCK YOU, WORLD! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Your paltry games of chance are as nothing to me.

I'll have a scan of it later. It's too cool not to share.

4) I never got my Batman sketch from the Hero Camp people. I'm upset about that. That Greg Thompson guy, that guy is a promotion machine. Keep an eye on him.

5) Kazu Kibuishi exudes an aura of quiet confidence, which is befitting a god taking mortal form. He and Jake Parker manned the Flight table, talked with confidence on the project, either unaware or unaffected by its growing success and status. I'm led to believe there will be a Volume 3. And Volume 4. And basically as many volumes as the market can stand, which is rather a fucking lot, if you ask me.

6) I talked to the Luna Brothers for like 60 seconds, and they are the two quietest guys ever. Sketches for $40? Ouch. They got bills to pay, but those tables were free... and the only other guy charging for sketches was charging $10, and that was with inking and coloring.

7) There was an after-party. Zeus Comics hosted a little get-together for the pro's and workers and volunteers to unwind and get a little drunk, and that is precisely what everyone did. This was definitely one of those "pro's just want to hang out together" kind of situations, so my jackhole self left with my buddy Joe after scoring some badass little grilled cheese panini things, and some cheap red wine. I loves me some cheap red wine.

Reviews of all materials I picked up from publishers large and small will be forthcoming all week. Watch this space.

ADDENDUM: I was wrong in guest count total. Zeus puts the numbers at something like 2000 visitors all day. Holy shit, huh?

Friday, May 06, 2005

It's only a day away. 

So it looks like I'll be doing the work thing at my favorite comics shop. They're hosting an event that has been described, to my ears, as "fucktastic." (That's a compliment.) Seriously, look at that guest list.

If you're in the D/FW area, skip the tomfoolery at the other stores and come on out to what promises to be an actual, genuine party, spreading out from the store itself into the huge tent in the parking lot out front.

It's gonna be a goddamn festival, and that's how it should be. My black little heart is warming up at the mere thought.

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