Grotesque Anatomy
Wednesday, March 31, 2004
  Making An Aardvark Of Oneself
Many, many others have already linked to the Onion A.V. Club's interview with Dave Sim, but I wanted to point out my favorite bit:

O: Are there parts of your story that you would still like to address, or perspectives that you feel you haven't yet had the chance to get across?

DS: Ever the oblique leftist. I don't "feel." If I "felt," I would never have gotten the book done. I'd be off "feeling" somewhere. My best intellectual assessment of the completed work is that I said exactly what I wanted to say, exactly the way I wanted to say it. What you want to know is if I'm going to continue to attack feminism, and what sort of artillery I have left. I have a lot of artillery left. My best guess would be that I emptied one metaphorical clip from one metaphorical AK-47, mostly firing over your heads and at the ground, although most of you are feeling as if I dropped an atomic bomb on your house on Christmas morning.

Leftist reactions are always histrionic. If it becomes necessary to renew my attack, I'll renew my attack. At this point, I think history will do most of the dirty work. Feminists are in an untenable position, defending something they no longer believe in, and which history will force them to recognize was destructive of most of the central pillars of civilization. I'm just the first one to point it out publicly. Everyone ignored Winston Churchill's warnings in 1937, but the question for Churchill wasn't, "What are you going to do to convince people you're right in 1938, 1939, and 1940?" If you perceive reality accurately—and I think I perceive reality a lot more accurately than feminists do—then ultimately, history will prove you right.

O: Again, I wasn't referring specifically to your writings on feminism. You mentioned that you should have made the series 250 issues, instead of 300. But if it took 300 issues to say exactly what you wanted to say as you wanted to say it, presumably 250 issues wouldn't have been enough space. Did you ever reach a point where 300 issues didn't seem like enough space?

DS: Oh, no. Sorry, I misunderstood.

Almost reads like a piece from the regular Onion, doesn't it?  "Crazed Comic Creator Who Accuses Everyone Else of Reacting Histrionically Reacts Histrionically to Simple Questions"
Tuesday, March 30, 2004
  Bright Light
Entertainment Weekly #758 (April 2, 2004) names DC's Light Brigade as one of its "Must List" picks for the week.  Hmm.  I almost got this for Peter Snejbjerg's art, but I passed because six bucks seemed a little steep to spend on a writer I'm unfamiliar with.  Maybe if there's a reasonably-priced trade.  Although the only review I can remember reading for Light Brigade was Paul O'Brien's, and he didn't seem very enthused about it.  Granted, Paul's complaints seem to be centered around the religious aspects of the story, but they sound like elements that would annoy me as well.  Maybe if I can find the set cheaply in a bargain bin...
  And So It Begins
Tim O'Neil and Kevin Melrose both link to an article from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review about Shonen Jump being pulled from Scholastic Inc.'s sales list due to complaints about the anthology's "questionable material."  The objectionable content?

The magazine, "Shonen Jump," an offshoot of the Yu-Gi-Oh trading cards and television cartoon popular among elementary and middle school students, showed a hero crediting his defeat of an opponent with the power he gained from smoking cigarettes.

Other story lines included mild profanity, violence, a character with a swastika on his forehead, and a female character who asks readers to pick up the next issue to see which "hot guy" would be the next to die.


"This is a fifth- and sixth-grade building. These are 10- and 11-year-olds. It's against what we're teaching. It's against our DARE (Drug Awareness Resistance Education) and the St. Vincent College prevention program," [Hillcrest Intermediate School Principal Rosemarie Dvorchak] said yesterday.

Suddenly Marvel's "No Smoking" policy starts to make more sense.

I've been wondering for a while when something like this would happen.  Back when I compared the first issues of Shonen Jump and Raijin Comics, I wondered how fanservice elements like the ubiquitous "panty shot" would go over with conservative American parents.  To be honest, I expected complaints, but I didn't expect companies like Scholastic to back down so easily:

"Certainly we're concerned. We're pulling the magazine," said Teryl McLane, meritor of publicity for Scholastic Inc.'s corporate office in Lake Mary, Fla.


Maureen Burkey, sales consultant for the Scholastic's Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan region, which is based in Cleveland, apologized for the comic book's content.

"These are not the type of phone calls we want. We are definitely pulling this. We are not about this. We are about promoting reading and good literature," she said.

Apparently Scholastic is not about promoting freedom of expression, however.  Seriously, did anyone consider any other alternatives besides removing Shonen Jump from Scholastic's sales list?  The article states that complaints were made about the "Captain Underpants" series in the past, but those books were made "available upon request" instead of removing them from the catalog completely.  Why couldn't something like that be done for Shonen Jump, perhaps even requiring parental permission in order to purchase the comic?

Part of me is wondering how much of this is because the comic is Japanese.  If it were an American comic with an American character smoking, would there have been such an uproar?  There's no way to know for sure, of course, but statements like this make me uneasy:

"We do have an editorial board, and it's a very lengthy and challenging process. We try to be thorough, but there is a challenge with cultural differences. In Japanese culture, some of these things are acceptable," she said.

For example, McLane said, to the Japanese, the swastika is an ancient Hindu symbol of good will.

Then why not use the comic as a "teachable moment" about cultural differences instead of banning the book altogether?  After all, it's not like Shonen Jump isn't available in other outlets for children to purchase. At least that way educators could address the content they find "troubling" instead of having students stumble upon it on their own.

I wonder how this will affect Shonen Jump's sales.  The cynic in me also wonders if American comic book publishers would ever use tactics like this to undercut their manga-publishing competitors.  ("Did you know your children may be reading Japanese comics that feature scenes of questionable moral character?")  Isn't that how some publishers allegedly went after EC's popular horror comics in the Fifties?
Monday, March 29, 2004
  The Ethics Of The Literature Of Ethics
In a nice example of the divide (or is it overlap?) between considerations of art and considerations of commerce I touched on last week, CrossGen fans react to the latest round of bad news regarding the company (which includes being sued in small claims court by former The First artist Andy Smith) by wondering whether they can continue to buy CGE comics in good conscience.
Friday, March 26, 2004
  In Defense Of A Movie I Haven't Even Seen
Sean Collins has some strong words for Lars von Trier's latest film, Dogville.  I haven't seen the movie yet, but I certainly plan to.  Part of it is that, ever since Moulin Rouge, my wife and I have been big Nicole Kidman fans (which doesn't mean I always enjoy her films (hello, The Hours and Cold Mountain) but I do think she choses interesting projects to be in).  Another reason is that I thought Dancer in the Dark (also directed by von Trier) was an excellent movie.  I'm a fan of musicals, and I found von Trier's twists on the standard song-and-dance conventions refreshing.  Further, given how many movies have sappy, unrealistic resolutions that come out out of nowhere, I also appreciated the film's rather bleak outlook and ending.  Sean, on the other hand, views Dancer as a "crassly manipulative" film which "nearly drove its open-hearted genius of a star Bjork insane."  Now, I'm not quite up-to-date on my celebrity gossip, but, yes, I do remember reading reports of Bjork and von Trier feuding on the set of Dancer.  (I also remember reports of Bjork, several years before she collaborated with von Trier, assaulting a female television reporter who approached Bjork and her son in the Thailand airport.)  I'm not sure how any of that really affects the resulting film one way or the other, though.  Do behind-the-scenes conflicts really matter when judging the work itself?  Does Hitchcock's reported treatment of his actors diminish the appeal or impact of his films?  Does Cerebus fail as a comic solely because of creator Dave Sim's outlandish beliefs?

This isn't to suggest that knowledge external to a work of art (or entertainment, if you prefer) can never enter into one's reactions to said work.  For example, reports about CrossGen's treatment of creators (particularly the long-standing issue of non-payment) may give one pause when one is putting together one's monthly comic order.  But those are considerations of commerce, not art.  Do I want to support this creator (or company) by purchasing his (their) work? not, Does this work, considered on its own, have any artistic merit?

I suspect that what's really bugging Sean is the (in his view) "anti-Americanism" that supposedly pervades Dogville.  How accurate that label is I really can't say.  Again, I haven't seen the film yet, nor am I interested in reading any specific reviews or criticism of the film until I have seen it.  But in any event, can't an artist create worthwhile (i.e., challenging, thought-provoking) art even if his politics disagree with ours?  Or is it now the case that, in art as well as in politics, you're either with us or against us?

UPDATE: Sean responds to my entry.
Thursday, March 25, 2004
  Alan's An Aquaman Fan
Alan Davis AquamanDavis, that is, not David Doane.

In an effort to satisfy my Alan Davis cravings without purchasing either his Uncanny X-Men or Another Nail (I'll wait for the trade on the latter), I finally sat down to read Modern Masters Volume One: Alan Davis from TwoMorrows Publishing.  Davis reveals his fondness for Aquaman in a passage discussing how his first art assignment at DC was almost the 1986 Aquaman mini-series (which later went to Craig Hamilton):

ALAN: No, I'd been given the project, but I think that Aquaman was considered to be of low importance which was why l'd been given it in the first place.  DC knew that I could do super-hero artwork from having seen "(Captain Britain" and "Marvelman." I had seen it as being important because I love the Aquaman character.

MM: He's always been one of my favorites, as well.

ALAN: And if I had been given a choice of any character to do at DC I would have gone for Aquaman.

MM: That's a little odd.  Aquaman's probably not that high on many people's lists.

ALAN: Well, when I was a kid I could swim--I really enjoyed swimming and still swim now. You can fantasize about being Aquaman swimming because you've got that freedom of movement in water.  Whereas you can't fly, so you're not Superman. Aquaman is the easier hero to imitate.

That last bit reminded me of Laura Gjovaag's explanation of why she likes Aquaman.  I wonder if we'll ever see Davis move from simply being the current cover artist for Aquaman to doing some interior art for the book?

Anyway, the Modern Masters book is pretty good so far.  Davis is a great interview subject, giving insight into both his artistic process and the behind-the-scenes politics that affect comic book projects.  Even better, Davis' discussion of these incidents is never torrid or gossipy; it always feels very even-handed.  (I know, probably a strike against the book in some people's eyes.  "But I wanted the dirt on so-and-so.  Bah, what's the point of reading an interview if he's not going to name names?")  And of course, there is plenty of wonderful art throughout the book, including sketches, thumbnails, and rejected cover concepts.  (Laura, if the image reproduced here isn't enough incentive for you to get the book, three other character designs Davis produced for the 1986 Aquaman series are included as well.)
Monday, March 22, 2004
  Altcomix Creators in NY
The March 22, 2004 issue of The New Yorker features work by creators familiar to altcomix fans:  Adrian Tomine and Seth each provide an illustration in the "Goings On About Town" section, and the Crumbs produce a three-page comic strip about "Creeping Global Villagism."




So much for my dream of moving to France to escape the escalating encroachment of S.U.V.s.
Sunday, March 21, 2004
  Be Careful What You Wish For
Yesterday I lamented the fact that Marvel's June solicitations didn't include an image of Rob Liefeld's cover to CABLE & DEADPOOL #4 for me to mock.  And now today I'm bombarded with more crappy Liefeld art than I can shake a strange-looking spear at.  I'd make with the usual snark, but I think I'm overwhelmed.  Besides, a poster named MDC over on The Pulse has already done a nice job of tearing apart Rob's problems with anatomy, backgrounds, continuity, etc.:
He's off to a fine start if the pages above are anything to go by, appalling anatomy, perspectives and Cables morphing hairline aside: Cable's bracelet changes to a wrist band on the 2nd page by which stage Domino's grown a widow's peak and the baddies eyewear looses it's bridge in the space of a panel, by page 3 Domino's gloves have dissappeared and by page 4 Cable's Spine has dissapeared and the Spearhead has changed appearance.
In other Wizard World LA news:
Guy Peace from MEMENTO
Finally, a bit of encouraging news about the "new" Larsen-led Image (also from CBR):
With Image Comics now under the guidance of Erik Larsen for the last month or so, we're now hearing about new projects that Erik's bringing to the "i." Last month CBR News told you about a new indy anthology called "Flight" headed up by Kazu Kibuishi. Sunday afternoon, CBR News ran into Kibuishi at Wizard World: Los Angeles who was excited to report that he's found a publisher and, you guessed it, it'll be Image Comics. Larsen saw the work of "Flight's" contributors at last months Alternative Press Expo in San Francisco and was impressed by what he saw. We'll bring you more on this story later this week.
Wow, that's good news on two fronts:  That "Flight" found a publisher, and that Image under Larsen is interested in putting out non-spandex material.
Saturday, March 20, 2004
  Marvel Team-Up Themed Solicitation Conspiracy Unveiled!
Others have already offered their takes on Marvel's June 2004 solicitations, but I couldn't resist adding my own thoughts:
Finally, this cover is great:

X-Statix #24

What a brilliant Road Runner-inspired homage to cartoon-style violence.  It'll be even better if Mister Sensitive is able to knock out Iron Man with an anvil in the actual comic.  And when are we going to get an X-Statix hardcover, Marvel?

(And to end on the theme of my unholy love for Marvel Team-Up, am I the only one who would be excited about an Essential or Marvel Age collection of those old Spidey Super Stories comics?  C'mon!  Marc Singer, you're with me, right?  Right??)
Friday, March 19, 2004
  Manga Fans Not Immune To Shitstorm Season Either
This thread over on Anime News Network starts out discussing where Raijin Comics went wrong but quickly devolves into an argument over which is stupider, shoujo or shonen manga:
GATSU:  Raijin just doesn't appeal to shallow and vapid girls, like whatever Viz and TP churn out by the dozen, but it does appeal to girls. I guess it's a cultural thing, though, cus girls over here eat up whatever's pretty, and girls in Japan, well, they end up doing videos for J-list. But all kidding aside, I'd tap into that market, but I really wouldn't rely on it for the long term, because girls are as likely to change manga as they change boyfriends(and occasionally girlfriends) and clothes.

Schunoko:  I find that insulting! How dare you generalize me as shallow and vapid because I don't like watching big beefy guys beat each other up or a very blah romantic comedy whose premise reminds me too much of Ah! My Goddess?

I'm one of the girls who Raijin didn't appeal to. Hopefully they'll retool something so that they have a title that will stand out more than "Oooh, prequel to Fist of the North Star" Nothing stood out as horribly original. Nothing made me want to read it. They just need to get something that will appeal to everyone. Not just visually stimulated guys (you really can be just as shallow and vapid as some of the girls you were insulting), not just bishonen obsessed girls, but to as many as possible.

GATSU:  In a market where every other comic has some blonde anorexic schoolgirl/schoolboy on the cover, or some tart with a short skirt, how exactly doesn't Blue Sky stand out?

littlegreenwolf:  Hmm... so girls who don't like the shonen manga that Rajin had to offer are automatically "shallow and vapid"?  Eheheh... isn't that a bit... out there? I am also a female who reads manga every single day across many genres, but Rajin also didn't appeal to me. I one of those who go with what Schunoko said; I don't know seeing those big muscled guys go at it, or reading romance that is crap compared to other manga written by female manga-ka who make a living off romance manga.

Replace "shonen" vs. "shoujo" with "new characters" vs. "old characters" or "corporate-owned" vs. "creator-owned" and it's just like wandering into a DC Comics forum or the comics blogosphere lately.  Why is it comic fans have such a hard time liking one thing without putting something else down?
Thursday, March 18, 2004
  People I Agree With
When you're too tired and lazy to do your own writing, link to stuff others have written that you agree with:
Too tired to come up with snappy closing even.
Wednesday, March 17, 2004
  Here's A Case Where I'm Glad I Didn't Wait For The Collection
I completely missed this earlier, but the DC solicitations for June 2004 list a hardcover JLA/Avengers collection...that costs seventy-five bucks:


     It’s an event that will never be forgotten.

     That’s why the once-in-a-lifetime crossover event that brought these two historic super-teams together and rocked the comics world receives the deluxe treatment it deserves in August! JLA/AVENGERS: THE COLLECTOR’S EDITION is an oversized, slipcased two-volume set collecting the legendary 4-issue miniseries with a full complement of bonus features!

     The 224-page first volume in the slipcase contains the 4-issue miniseries written by Kurt Busiek (ASTRO CITY, SUPERMAN: SECRET IDENTITY) with stunning art by George Pérez (WONDER WOMAN) and introductions by Stan Lee and the late Julius Schwartz, the architects of the original iterations of the Avengers and the Justice League of America, respectively. This volume also features a key to the characters on the intricately detailed cover of JLA/AVENGERS #3.

     The 64-page Compendium, featuring a new cover by Pérez, contains the original 21 pages of pencils from cancelled 1980s crossover by Pérez and writer Gerry Conway, plus an article on it by former DC editor K.C. Carlson, a look at several other unofficial crossovers, and more! But that’s not all — this volume also features the JLA/AVENGERS miniseries proposal and plot synopses, and annotated notes from Busiek for all the obscure characters and creatures crammed into the pages.

     There are no plans to reprint this historical set, so this is the only opportunity to own the material reprinted in the Compendium. Don’t miss out on what’s sure to be a crown jewel in any comics collection!

     This project is supported with house ads.

$75?  For 224 pages of material?  Yipes!  And of course DC is pulling the old "there are no plans to reprint this set" trick to scare fans into coughing up the dough for this "once-in-a-lifetime" collection.  (I wonder if DC could get in trouble if any of the material in the Compendium is ever published outside this expensive "collector's edition"?  DC isn't as evasive in that statement:  "this is the only opportunity to own the material reprinted in the Compendium," not this "might be" or this "could be.")

And are they really going to use that floating heads shot for the cover of the collection?

Meanwhile, the fourth and final issue of the mini is supposed to hit stores on March 31st according to the revised countdown clock on
  DC Smacks Fan On Head
In a thread titled "Upset with DC's Focus Line" over on Broken Frontier's DC board, poster Kristopher states his displeasure with DC's new line of books:
I almost feel sorry to say this, as I'm sure there are people that enjoy these books, but I'm put off by all these Focus books that DC is putting out.

I feel they have some great characters that aren't even being used that, with the right effort behind them, could make some great books and/or series.

When I go through the solicitations and start to see all these Focus books, it feels like DC is smacking me on the back of the head.

Not sure why I feel that way. I just do. Am I alone?

DC is smacking him on the head by publishing the Focus books?  What does that even mean?  Kristopher attempts to explicate his feelings further in a later post:
I guess I'd just rather see DC dig into their huge pile of DCU characters and produce some titles that way, rather than put out all these books.
Oh, I get it:  DC is neglecting long-time readers by putting out comics focused on new characters instead of endlessly recycling pre-existing characters.  Several other posters respond to this Demand For (Devotion To?) The Old, including Broken Frontier's Review Editor, Mike Bullock:
I think both Marvel and DC need to put more effort into creating new characters. Who knows, trhey may actually get another hit that rivals Superman or Spider-Man. I don't know if it'll happen, but we'll never know if all they do is dust off the same old characters again and again...

If all anyone ever did was rely on old characters (like they seem to do nowadays), we'd never have seen Wolverine, Punisher, Firestorm or several other fan favorites.

Makes me want to travel back in time and see how fans reacted when those characters were first introduced.  ("Who is this lame new character 'The Punisher'?  What kind of threat is a guy WITH A GUN to Spider-Man??  Instead of creating boring bad guys like this, Marvel needs to bring back classic villains like Doctor Octopus, who we haven't seen fight Spidey for over a year!")  The obvious disanalogy for two of those examples is that they were introduced as throwaway characters in ongoing series and were only given their own books later on as their popularity grew, but Firestorm debuted in his own book back in 1978 and now he's a "fan-favorite" character whose comic is perennially relaunched and cancelled.
Tuesday, March 16, 2004
  Comics About 3/11
A reader from Spain (Raúl Barrantes, who writes his own weblog about comics, Comics Asylum) sent me the following email:
Writing also a weblog about comics (, i have thought that maybe - just maybe - you´d like to know that there have been opened a pair of web sites to express our anger, frustrations or whatever thoughts and feelings through comics and ilustrations. Web sites where people, comics pros or not, are called to send their contributions in a claim for peace. You can find them here: ("Comics against violence")
I'm sure there's a lot I'm not catching in these drawings, but I still find it interesting to see how Spaniards are expressing themselves through their art.  (And I found it especially interesting that there seems to be a fair amount of manga influence in many of the drawings.)

Thanks for the links, Raúl!
Monday, March 15, 2004
  Raijin Comics On Hiatus
Manga publisher Raijin Comics has announced that its entire publishing lineup (including all trade paperback collections in addition to the monthly anthology) is going on indefinite hiatus:
Over the past 18 months, we have tested the market to see how well a weekly and monthly manga magazine would fare with an American audience. Based on our research with readers, retailers and distributors, we have come to a conclusion – our publications, though appreciated by hard-core manga fans, are not penetrating a larger market.

In order for us to reach a broader market, RAIJIN COMICS, RAIJIN GRAPHIC NOVELS, and MASTER EDITION will be placed on hiatus for the time being. We will be taking time out to come up with ways to broaden the appeal of our publications, retooling stories and overall editorial content. RAIJIN COMICS Issue 46 and the June GRAPHIC NOVELS will be the last issue you will be printing [sic].

I'm really sorry to hear this.  While I'd stopped getting the anthology, I was still enjoying several of their series in collected form, especially the wonderful Slam Dunk.  I hope they can come back with a stronger presence after regrouping and refocusing their efforts.
  White House Also Unveils New Witch-Finding Techniques
The Bush administration, responding to claims by Senator John Kerry that some foreign leaders want him to beat Bush in November, unveiled its new form of logic:
"If Senator Kerry is going to say he has support from foreign leaders, then he needs to be straightforward with the American people and say who it is that he has spoken with and who it is that supports him," [White House spokesman Scott] McClellan told reporters.

If not, the spokesman added, "Then the only alternative is that he is making it up to attack the president of the United States."  [Emphasis added.]

McClellan did not respond to questions whether under this new system of logic President Bush was guilty of making anything up.
  Axis of Cool
Paul O'Brien is the latest reviewer to discover the joys of Street Angel:
Street Angel is a mix of deadpan but affectionate superhero pastiche, mild absurdity (Jesse insisting on talking through a megaphone for a whole scene, for no reason whatsoever, or Dr Pangea berating his ninja henchmen for failure to wear their name badges) and just plain Cool Stuff (ninjas and skateboarding).  It's completely ridiculous, but creators Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca get the balance right where Street Angel is genuinely cool in her own right and not just a vehicle for jokes at the expense of other people.
I was going to hold off on linking to more Street Angel reviews, but Paul's long been one of my favorite reviewers, so I was happy to see that he enjoyed the book.  Plus, Paul picked up on an important influence in Street Angel that everyone else missed:  Night Thrasher.
  No Respect
Alter Ego #33I started reading The Adam Strange Archives over the weekend.  Flipping to the back to read the biographies, I noticed that there was no entry for Mike Sekowsky.  Nice.  The character's co-creator, who chronicled his first six adventures (two stories in each issue of Showcases 17 through 19), doesn't rate a bio.  This is an even bigger insult than the bio they ran for Sekowsky in the back of the Justice League of America Archives ("Though never considered one of comics' more polished artists...")

In other Sekowsky-related news, I ran across the following passage in the Sekowsky-focused Alter Ego #33:
MARK EVANIER [discussing his "filth"-themed sketchbook]:  And then I made the mistake, I guess, of giving it to Mike Sekowsky.  And I thought he would draw a naked Supergirl, or something of this sort in the pattern.  Instead, he drew a 16-page story of the Justice League of America gang-banging Wonder Woman.  [chuckles]  And it was brilliant!  And it was not only brilliant in terms of the artwork, but it was brilliant in the way the story was told and structured.  And Mike admitted that he'd had it on his mind for years and was looking for an excuse to draw it.  It was very elaborate, it was very detailed, and he probably did it in about an hour, knowing him.

SCOTT SHAW!:  And then smoked a cigarette.

"Brilliant in the way the story was told and structured"?  For a story about Wonder Woman getting gang-banged by the rest of the Justice League for 16 pages?  I guess we'll just have to take Evanier's word for it, since he later mentions that he'll never allow the story to be printed. 
Sunday, March 14, 2004
  EW Listens2Pulse Re: Manga
In the March 19, 2004 edition of Entertainment Weekly (#756), the subscribers-only supplement "Listen2This" is taken over by The Pulse's Jennifer M. Contino, who provides an overview of manga along with three reviews:
Upcoming comics mentioned are:  Scars, She-Hulk, 30 Days of Night: Return to Barrow, and Hellboy: The Corpse.

And I completely forgot to mention that last week's EW (#755; 3/12/04) placed Mother, Come Home at #9 on "The Must List":

Mother, Come Home

I figured ADD would want to know.
Friday, March 12, 2004
  "Why Is This Gorilla Crying?"
Thanks to Neilalien for brightening my day a bit with this link.  Goofy stuff like this always makes me smile:

Batman #114

I guess I didn't realize how much I was jonesing for silly simian comic book covers after Graeme sparked the craving a couple days ago.  Thanks for scratching that itch, O Palindromic One.

UPDATE:  I'm having a blast browsing through Comic Book Gorillarama's cover galleries.  How can you not love these wild covers?:

Star Spangled War Stories 126

Strange Adventures 186

Crime Detective Comics 6

And here's the original version of the cover Graeme linked to earlier this week:

Strange Adventures 75

Genius.  I wonder what it would take to get DC to reprint a bunch of their best (i.e., weirdest) ape-related stories into a cheap, thick TPB?
  The Cost of Stupidity
On top of the tragic news from Spain, this put me in a really foul mood this morning:
A proposal to amend the constitution to ban gay marriage zipped through a second House committee with little opposition. The Ways and Means Committee, however, dealt only with finances of the proposal.

The bill is estimated to cost the state $2,000 for reporting votes, canvassing the results and preparing a sample ballot. Local governments would be on the hook for about $122,000 to add the amendment to the ballot.

I know those amounts are really small in the grand scheme of things, but it still annoys me that my state government is wasting any money on an effort to codify intolerance into the Minnesota state constitution.
  Sadness, Anger, Frustration
Like others, I'm upset by the news of yesterday's terrorist attacks in SpainSean Collins expresses the sentiment better than I ever could.  Back in October 2000, my wife and I were in Madrid (on our way back to the airport, actually) when a car bombing killed three people.  I still remember the confusion and anger that resulted from that incident, which was much smaller in comparison.  I can't even imagine what the people there must be going through right now, but my thoughts are certainly with them.
  Vacation Pic Blowout!
Final Day!!  Everything must go!!






And finally, a picture that nicely sums up what our trip really revolved around:  FOOD!

Stuffing Our Faces
Thursday, March 11, 2004
  Reviews I Disagree With
Sometimes it's easier just to react to others' reactions:
Finally, here's the feature that (by now) needs no introduction:


Wednesday, March 10, 2004
  Double Your Vacation Pic Pleasure!
Work's been brutal lately, so I probably won't have time for any reviews or snarky comments today.  But there's always time for the Vacation Photo of the Day (oh, heck - since I'm being lazy, let's make it two pics):

Caged Money

Water Buffalo
Tuesday, March 09, 2004
  "These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things"
A couple of my favorite comic creators are featured in interviews around the net:
If only there had been an interview with Carla Speed McNeil somewhere, my day would have been complete.  (Well, I can always cheat and pretend this excellent interview with McNeil is new.)
  Subtly Promoting The Forum
For those of you following the Jeff Parker story, I thought I should point out that Steve Lieber weighed in with some thoughts on the matter over at the Grotesque Rampage forum.

Also, it's time for the Vacation Photo of the Day:

Let the cyclo race begin!
Monday, March 08, 2004
  Street Angel #1 Review
Street Angel #1Well, after writing so much about the comic months ago, I finally got to read it.  Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca were kind enough to send me a preview copy of Street Angel #1 (due in stores this week).  Back in their CBR interview, Rugg and Maruca stated that their main goal with Street Angel was to put the fun back in comics.  They've certainly succeeded:  Street Angel is Monty Python meets Madman.  Like the British comedy troupe, Street Angel revels in off-kilter humor, such as a scene where our teenaged heroine Jesse Sanchez (aka Street Angel) infiltrates a pickup game of ninja basketball by wearing a ninja outfit that's much too big for her.  None of the bad guys notice that their teammate has suddenly shrunk and changed genders.  It sounds a bit silly on paper, but the gag works in the context of the environment Rugg and Maruca have crafted for their comic.  That environment goes by the name of Angel City, and it's reminiscent of Madman's Snap City.  It's by no means a carbon copy of that setting -- for one thing, Angel City seems a bit grittier and tougher than I ever remember Snap City being -- but Street Angel's nemesis Dr. Pangea (whose diabolical criminal plan is to reunite the earth's continents into one land mass) would probably feel at home in either city.  (Another Madman connection may be entirely in my own mind:  Does anyone else think Jesse looks like a younger, tougher version of Joe, Frank's girlfriend?)

Separated at Birth?

Street Angel has a lot more going for it than just goofy fun.  I don't want to spoil the ending, but I was surprised by the authenticity of the emotion in the final scene.  Let's just say that the creators provide insight into what may motivate Jesse into adopting such a gruff, angry exterior.  The book also benefits from some great artwork.  In an earlier post I touched on how different commentators see different artistic influences in Rugg's work, so I won't rehash the bit where I rattle off whose styles Rugg's reminds me of.  I did want to comment on Rugg's storytelling skills, though:  On my first read through the comic, I simply enjoyed the story and art.  It wasn't until I went back and re-read the comic a couple times that I noticed how Rugg's attention to detail enhanced the narrative flow.  Case in point:  In her big battle with dozens of ninjas, Jesse loses one of her shoes.  In subsequent panels, Jesse's shoe is still missing, and, what's more, it's always missing from the same foot.  This may seem like a trivial matter, but it's something you come to appreciate when other comic reading experiences are interrupted by distracting continuity gaffes.

All in all, I was really impressed with Street Angel.  The cover caught my eye when I first saw it back in the January Previews, and the solicitation copy sounded like a lot of fun.  Still, I had no idea what the actual book would be like.  And plenty of creators swear up and down that their comic will be a return to the enjoyment comics used to provide, only for the actual product to be rather dull.  Street Angel delivers the entertainment, and I look forward to following the fun in future issues. 

(For more info on Street Angel, check out this preview at Aweful Books.  There's also a new interview with Jim Rugg over at The Pulse.  And remember:  That back cover is just a gag cover parodying Jim Lee's style.)
  Quick Cuts: Goons, Ghosts, and Gods
THE GOON #5 - This issue was interesting because it involved the most continuity I recall seeing in the series thus far:  Several characters who were introduced earlier (The Zombie Priest, Buzzard, Dr. Alloy) appear in this issue, but Powell handles their re-introductions well, giving the readers everything they need to know about the characters without being too tedious about it.  Of course, since this is The Goon, there's plenty of Powell's trademark humor on display (my favorite sequence involves a psychic seal who just doesn't know when to leave well enough alone), but there's also some touching sentiment to be found as a character attempts to escape the anguish caused by mistakes he made long ago.

8 ½ GHOSTS - A charming story about a filmmaker of questionable scruples who stumbles upon the ultimate special effect for his new horror movie -- real live ghosts!  (Well, "live" probably isn't the right word, but you know what I mean...)  Rich Tommaso has crafted a great comic with delightful art (I like how the mean poltergeists are distinguished from the nice ghosts by the "tough-guy" hats they wear), and Alternative Comics has put everything together in an attractive oversized package.  I'd try to describe the basic plot, but I'd probably botch it or give too much away.  Go here if you want a quick summary of what the book's about, and to see a large image of the book's wonderful cover.

MY FAITH IN FRANKIE #2 - Not as good as the first issue, but still plenty of fun.  My biggest disappointment was that Dean Baxter (Frankie's back-from-the-dead boyfriend) turned out to be eeee-vil.  I think it would have been more interesting to pit deity against regular ol' mortal, but I'm still interested in seeing where Carey goes with this.  And the art by Liew and Hempel continues to be a treat.

And since I was on vacation for two weeks, I've decided to run the Vacation Photo of the Day feature for another week.  (Plus, I know how much Rick Geerling has been enjoying the photos.)  Enjoy!

Friday, March 05, 2004
  Maybe They're Mutants: Only Mutants Could Stack And Glow In The Dark Like That...
Well, I don't have anything comic-related to say, but I didn't want to let that stop me from posting today's Vacation Photo of the Day:

Glow In The Dark

Have a good weekend, everyone!
Thursday, March 04, 2004
  Quick & Dirty Blogging (Plus The Obligatory Vacation Pic)
I was planning on doing more reviews today, but there's some other stuff I have to work on that's eating up my time.  Before I do that, though, here are some things I noticed online today:
And here it is, your Vacation Photo of the Day:

Family Ride

Wednesday, March 03, 2004
  Quick Cuts, DCU Edition
AQUAMAN #15 - Not much Aquaman in it, although perhaps that's a good strategy:  Since not many people think of the character fondly, place the character in an interesting situation and go from there. Unfortunately, the situation surrounding Aquaman isn't that interesting:  It's disjointed (the jumps in time are abrupt and jarring); unengaging (because we didn't know any of the victims, it's hard to care about them beyond the abstract); and predictable (it was obvious what the answer to the "mystery" was as soon as the kid appeared).  All in all, not a great start for the new creative team.  I'm considering dropping this before the first story arc is even complete.

HERO #13 - Will Pfeifer's other DC work is better, but it's still a mixed bag, mainly because it wants to have its cake and eat it too.  While there were moments where I thought Pfeifer was making good use of the gender-bending premise, there are also times when he just seems to be going for the easy "men-are-pigs-who-don't-understand-women" jokes, such as when Joe, now trapped in a female form, assumes that he should wear lingerie all the time.  Ha ha ha.  (If Joe was living with his girlfriend all this time, wouldn't he know that women generally like to wear more practical undergarments?)  Still, I enjoyed the issue overall, if only because I continue to be surprised by the material DC is allowing to be published in one of its mainstream comics.  (Joe is date-raped by his sleazy co-worker?  Yeah, I'd say that qualifies as a "disturbing encounter.")

WONDER WOMAN #201 - A bit of an uneven issue. As I noted the other day, I'm not someone who demands action every issue, but even I felt as though this issue was padded.  Example:  The opening sequence, in which it takes Stheno two pages to pull Circe out of the water.  Other things that distracted or annoyed:  The cameo by the "bug" from the first Matrix movie; Wonder Woman using questionable Silver-Age science to disperse a tsunami (although the scene did trigger fond memories of the first Superman/Spider-Man crossover); Artemis' sudden mood swing across the span of two panels ("Oh, those warships are only here to provide assistance."  "What the $%@# are those warships doing off our coast???").  I also missed the regular pencils of Drew Johnson, although Shane Davis' art did have some nice moments.  (Some of his facial expressions were priceless, especially Circe's in the last sequence.)

GOTHAM CENTRAL #16 - A solid issue with some great character interaction and dialogue from Brubaker.  (This is how banter should be written.)  Unfortunately, the art from Greg Scott isn't up to Michael Lark's usual standards:  Heads and faces often seem distorted, and a couple panel transitions had me scratching my head.  Also, although this was solicited as a stand-alone story, the main plot continues into next issue (although apparently different cast members will be featured).

Finally, today's Vacation Photo of the Day is a classic.  Who could resist Angry Asian Shopkeeper?

Angry Asian Shopkeeper

Tuesday, March 02, 2004
OK, I've slowly been making my way through the backlog of writing I missed during my two weeks of vacation.  It's kind of strange coming back and looking at some of the "controversies" that consumed the blogosphere while I was away (reaction to Brian Hibbs' column on bookstore and manga sales; whether or not superheroes are a genre worthy of serious criticism; whether or not superheroes are even a genre in the first place; the anticlimax that is X-Men ReLoad; whether or not the blogosphere has become the Borg cube; just how crazy is Dave Sim; and so on).  I feel somewhat detached reading all of these topics -- more an intrigued anthropologist than an active participant.  Even the discussions touching on one of my favorite topics to pontificate on, manga, don't really move me to join in.  None of this is to say that I feel above any of the discussions that took place, or that I've now suddenly come to the conclusion that writing about comics is meaningless.  It's just an observation that it feels very different to view topics with a bit more distance than one might normally have if one were actively engaged in the ongoing conversations.  A big part of it is probably the "expiration date" factor:  Given the immediacy of blogging, a lot of this probably doesn't read as well when it's not as fresh.  It's kind of like when my parents visit and they bring me a stack of months-old Newsweeks:  It's odd to page through them and think, "This is what the media was so obsessed about a couple weeks ago?  Huh."

Now I'm tempted to look back through my old blog entries and see how odd my own old writing comes across.  I'm sure I never wrote anything I'd regret or be embarrassed about, right?  Right??

And something else I have to get around to:  Updating the blogroll with all of the interesting new blogs that have sprung up recently.  Sounds as though Tim O'Neil has really ratcheted up his coverage in Dirk Deppey's absence.  Plus, Tim offers something that Dirk never did:  Adorable pictures of kittens too cute for words!  Who says this isn't the Blogging Age of Cute 'n' Cuddly Snark, True Believers?

Finally, your Vacation Photo of the Day:


  Won't Someone Please Think Of The Children?
Jason Kimble has a great post on how same-sex marriages (considered in the aggregate) could actually have an advantage over opposite-sex marriages:  No unplanned pregnancies.  It's a great point, and one I don't think I've ever heard expressed before, either.  Kimble also offers astute observations about why it might be that we haven't heard this argument from SSM proponents before.  Interesting food for thought.
Monday, March 01, 2004
  For This We Waited Two Weeks??
Gah.  So tired.  Just want to sleep, but I suppose I'd better blog something otherwise I'm going to get in the habit of not blogging.  (As the nuns in Catholic school always said, if you do something for three weeks, it'll become a habit.)  Since I'm feeling incoherent, this is going to be pretty scattered/sketchy.

First of all, I apologize to all those who emailed while I was away:  I know I haven't responded to everyone yet, but I plan to.  Strangely, the two-week period where I was gone may have been the blog's busiest in terms of email.  I blame The Beat!'s inclusion of this blog in its "Crisis On Infinite Blogospheres" roundup.  (A genuine thanks to The Beat! for mentioning and linking to this blog.  And even bigger thanks for working my name into the construction "Mr. ________ could not be reached for comment."  It's been a life-long dream to see myself referred to in that way.)  And The Beat! is one savvy scout:  Stamina is something I always worry about with this whole blogging thing.  Personally, I'm surprised I've lasted this long at it, given my flaky attention span.

Next, I just took a look at what's coming tomorrow in my Big Monthly Box O' Comics and I'm pretty excited.  Now, generally I don't list out what comics I'm getting each month, but this time I figured what the heck:  It can serve as a glimpse into the comics I actually read when I'm not busy making snarky comments about them.  Plus, I'm wiped out and desperate to fill space.

Observations:  A lot of magazines about comics (for me at least).  And a good number of trades (5), but three times as many singles (15)!  How did that happen?  I thought I was supposed to be one of the poster boys for "Waiting For The Trade."  Hmm.  I guess that just goes to show that groupthink doesn't always translate into corresponding groupact.

Finally, here's your Vacation Photo of the Day:



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