Grotesque Anatomy
Friday, July 09, 2004
  Sequent And It Looks Like Art
While I wasn't looking, the site Continuity Pages revamped itself as Sequart.  The site's design leaves much to be desired, especially that ghastly front page, but what the site lacks in aesthetic appeal it more than makes up for in quality content.  One of the best columnists so far is Jeff Chon (and I'm not simply saying that because Jeff just emailed me to ask if he could quote one of my brilliant insights on manga in a future column; really, I'm not), whose column "Arbiter Of Good Taste" is a snarky delight.  Some sample segments:

On superhero comics' continued move from goofy silliness to grim 'n' gritty seriousness: 
Green Arrow used to be a guy who shot plungers and boxing gloves from a bow.  Now he’s an earnest tough guy with an acute social conscience who no longer shoots arrows with whoopee cushions and chattering teeth attached to them.  Why forsake one for the other?  Why suck out all the charm and the one thing that distinguishes him from Hawkeye?  Why can’t Green Arrow be an earnest social crusader who shoots arrows with wax lips as tips?
On the similarities between recently departed former president Ronald Reagan and now-inactive comic book activism site Savant
I wrote for a site that was like Reagan in many ways -- it polarized the public, certain people wanted it to die, and it also was involved in an arms for hostages deal.
On the behemoth that is Previews:
As you may or may not know, a gigantic mountain of crap is released every month and there are a lot of great comics you may have missed in Diamond Previews while reading about the lunchboxes and Zippo lighters.
Jeff, in a long aside leading up to his review of Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind, also has skeptical thoughts on the effectiveness of American comic publishers repackaging their works to resemble manga:
Some people view manga as the new “starter comics,” in that kids will read Dragonball Z or Inu Yasha and then graduate to something more sophisticated like Micronauts ... in theory.  Manga will save the mainstream comics industry in less than two generations because of the new readers it will bring on board ... in theory.  So, since manga is so popular, what American comics need to do is repackage their comics to look more like manga ... iiiiinn theory.
From the context, it appears that Jeff is mainly addressing attempts to draw characters such as Superman and Spider-Man with "big eyes, speed-lines, and spiky hair," but I wonder what he thinks about efforts to reformat existing Western works in the more bookstore-friendly manga digest size?  I know Sean Collins has been a big advocate for this move, but Jeff's comments make me wonder if it'll really make any difference to fans of Detective Conan that Sin City is now going to be manga-sized.

I also loved Jeff's description of Nausicaä's elite pedigree:
I could be wrong, but this is the only comic in the marketplace written and drawn by an Academy Award winner.  OK, fine -- two-time winner Diane Wiest (Best Supporting Actress:  Hannah and Her Sisters, Bullets over Broadway) wrote something called Badrock Vs. the Bride of Robotjox, but until Rob Liefeld finishes drawing it, it’s merely a comic solicited by an Academy Award winner and nothing more.
And for those of us who weren't ga-ga over Spider-Man 2, we've found another like-minded soul in Matt Martin:
Apparently Spider-Man is basically just a super-powered firefighter.  2 for 2, Spidey!

Glad to see Doc Ock hit Magneto’s garage sale when he went looking for a fusion reactor…

Doc Ock is apparently either a master detective or an utter fuck-up.  Harry sends him to convince Peter to give up Spider-Man’s identity.  How does Octopus get Peter’s attention?  By throwing a car at him when his back’s turned.  So either Octopus knows that Peter is Spider-Man (and hence, his Spider Sense will save him) or he’s trying to kill him.  And neither choice makes any damned sense at all.

Was there anyone in that movie that Peter DIDN’T take his mask off for?

Like lifting scenes (and sets) from the first movie for the second wasn’t bad enough, it looks like the third flick is setting up to be a straight remake.  If you didn’t know it was a Marvel production beforehand, you sure as hell do now.
OK, that's probably enough shameless shilling for the site, right?  So you'll make me look good when you quote me, right, Jeff?  Jeff??
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Iron Fist

by John Jakala

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