Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Look! A groovy screen grab of the Mad Mod from that Teen Titans episode I liked so much. Again, just wanted to share.
Hm. Apparently I'm only 19.52663 Geek, according to the Geek Test. How do you rank?
Tim O'Neil:

1. I hear ya. I feel your pain.
2. You, sir, are absolutely correct.
3. Remember: it is better to have loved and lost than never have loved at all. I say this as a 40 year veteran of reading comics and having the particular misfortune of falling for every niche and cult series out there.
4. Don't read Bloodlines or Genesis, the two times DC suckered me. They'll be finding pieces of your brain in every remote corner of the globe.
I don't know if you check out Ain't It Cool News very often, but the fellow who goes by the name of Moriarty has written (in the course of a long, long article) a great review of Kill Bill Vol. 2, a list of "favorite movie moments"- something I might try to do someday, and an open letter to the Coen Bros. which I found very interesting. Maybe you will too! Go here!
I was listening to the White Album for a while yesterday, and was moved to observe two moments which get me going every time, out of several:

The long, held-out french horn (or trombone, maybe, I'm not sure) note, then the five short-note run, then the three longer ascending notes that accompany the second refrain of "hold your head up, you silly girl" in Paulie's "Martha My Dear"; and the back-and-forth, mostly two-note guitar solo in "Yer Blues".

Just wanted to share.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Time to dip into the box o'goodness provided by good old Unca Larry, and comment on the following AiT/PlanetLar titles:

Not being content with giving us a metaphorical road to perdition, with this writer Max Collins gives us a literal one. The term "psychotronic" gets used a lot in the descriptions of this GN, not only on the website, but also in Collins' introduction, and actually, it's a very appropriate way to describe this. Of course, the term originated with an obscure low budget sci-fi/horror film called The Pyschotronic Man, and was appropriated by Michael Weldon as the title of his successful self-published movie magazine and the two reference books he's published, which are absolute must-haves for any connisseur of craptacular cinema. A psychotronic film is "...commonly...identified by (its) use of explotation elements and (it's) interest in humanity's lowest common denominator" (from the back jacket blurb of The Psychotronic Movie Guide), and that's what we get: zombies, gangsters, hot dames, lots of liquor, retro 50's and 60s fashion and decor, Satan himself with horns and a goatee and a bitchin' tux, and the title character himself- a private dick with an eyepatch and a shady history, and a penchant for running afoul of the mob. It starts out as a fairly routine sort of tough guy vs. the mob type story, but then takes a deleriously nutball turn about halfway through, and becomes a absolute gas for most of the second half until the ending, which was a bit too ambiguous for my liking. Now, I was never a fan of the titles that Collins and artist Terry Beatty are most known for: Ms. Tree and Wild Dog, although I kinda liked Collins' Dick Tracy newspaper strips. Beatty's style never grabbed me much- I always found it stiff and mannered, almost awkwardly so. And it's still kinda stiff here, but he completely nails the period flavor, and invites favorable comparisons to his most obvious model: EC Comics, specifically the EC horror tales drawn by Johnny Craig. I read in the notes where Johnny has been optioned as a movie; too bad someone like T.V. Mikels, Larry Buchanon, or Al Adamson couldn't be tabbed to direct it! I really enjoyed Johnny Dynamite, a lot more than I thought I would. It appealed to the B-movie buff in me. A-

Abel is a glum tale of prejudice and murder set in a small Nebraska town in the World War II era. It strives to be Steinbeckian, but reads a bit more like Stephen King. Its protagonist is a young boy named John, who is saddled with a irredeemably horrible bully for an older brother (Phillip) and parents who are either blithely unaware or unwilling to see it, and in the case of his no-nonsense father, probably don't care. He lives in an isolated rural town, where everyone is apparently steadfastly bigoted, like most modern writers seem to believe everyone was back in those days. He befriends the Chinese manservant of a invalid old man, and soon he is helping out with the old man's garden, and getting paid a dollar to do it, a veritable fortune in those days. Of course, he has to keep his new friendship a secret, and of course his older brother finds out and uses the information to tighten his stranglehold on his sibling. One night, his brother sneaks out and hooks up with his buddies for some bad fun with one of his cronies' retarded sister, who is kept, Karl Childers-like, in a shed behind the house. They take turns having their way with her, until she bites back, and this sends Phillip into a rage which culminates in him beating her to death. They all agree to blame it on the Chinaman. Problem is, John has sneaked out as well, and has watched the whole scene from the bushes...and he is faced with a terrible choice: does he go warn his new friend, and get his brother in trouble, or does he do nothing? His choice, as it turns out, is a dreadful one indeed...and is a powerful one as well.

I was pretty much caught up in Abel after the early going, and did feel the impact from the ending, which surprised me a little. The Cain-Abel parallels here aren't really developed very much, and we're not really given much in the way of sympathetic characters here- of course, you feel for John, but at the same time he frustrates because he's so passive, and the manservant Mar has apparently devoted his life to the man who bought him and abused him for many years, even after he became too old and ill to mistreat him any longer. Everyone else is portrayed as stupid, bigoted, or just plain uncaring, and this becomes wearisome after a while. That said, I did care about what happened to John, which made the ending that much more troubling. Biggest problem I had with Abel was the art of Mark Bloodworth. Again working in sepia tone ( I think Larry must have gotten a great deal on sepia ink at some point), Bloodworth does a fine job on the backgrounds, composition and staging, but he has a total inability to draw the human figure, and this ineptitude just about sinks the whole book. I don't know what stage Bloodworth is in his career, but I sincerely hope that he takes some anatomy drawing classes. In all fairness, he does just fine with the period detail, and occasional scenes like the one on page 39 are striking and evocative. Unfortunately, for every page like that, there's a clunker like the full page illo of the town on page 30.

Abel works in spite of itself, and it was obviously a deeply felt endeavor by writer William Harms. A little tightening here and there, and a better artist, would have really pushed this over the top. As it is, though, it's still an engaging read, and I can recommend it with reservations. B

Wasn't too crazy about THE ANNOTATED MANTOOTH. While it was well-drawn in a Tim Sale-ish kind of way by Andy Kuhn with Tim Fisher, I found the exploits of this Simian James Bond just too broad, sophomoric and juvenile for my liking. I suppose that was the whole point of the thing, and if you like your humor crude and lowbrow, then you should definitely be all over this. Not that there's anything wrong, necessarily, with this sort of fratboy hijinx, but it's just not my thing. C

A handsome collection of digital photography by that noted technophile and proficient jacket blurb writer Warren Ellis, accompanied by a short story inspired by each image. Some are arresting, some are eh, but all are readable, especially if you're an admirer of Ellis' terse, no-nonsense style. I am, so I enjoyed it much more than others, I guess. Very nice, but difficult to get real evangelical about. A-

That's all for now...I still have Jennie One, Channel Zero, Astronauts in Trouble: Flight Plan HC, and a couple of others to go.
Yeah, yeah, I know. I promised all kinds of stuff before the weekend started, and acheived very little of it. Kind of a recurring theme with me. Anyway, until I can get the energy to contribute something readable, here's what I'll be getting Wednesday according to the Diamond shipping list:


Looks like a quality haul. I may regret signing up for that trade, but I've been super curious about the title, being an admirer of the work of Andi Watson, and I figure trades would be a good format to read this particular one in. My store hasn't been getting singles of it, not even for holds customers (I thought I had signed up for it as of issue 7, but as of this writing haven't seen copy one as of yet), because no one pre-ordered #1.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us


What I bought and what I thought, week of April 14!

Bill Willingham's concocted an appropriately epic adventure story with "March of the Wooden Soldiers", and this chapter is the strongest yet. Despite an opening scene which doesn't seem to fit (but I'd bet it will figure in eventually), everything else is note-perfect as he builds up a feeling of apprehension and tension as the Fabletown residents come face to face with the threat of war with the adversary which chased them out of their homelands years ago. And one of the most important figures is Pinocchio, of all "people", in a somewhat more grown-up interpretation than we're used to. Gotta give special props to the art team of Mark Buckingham and Steve Leialoha, whom I've cast plenty of invective at previously- this issue they do a great job of depicting the events, and for once Buckingham seems to be focusing and thankfully spares us the haphazard anatomy of previous issues. A

H-E-R-O 15
Jerry Feldon, the first owner of the H-Dial in this particular series, returns, along with the true original owner of the H-Dial from the House of Mystery days, Robby Reed...and perhaps not coincidentally we get the strongest issue of the series since the beginning. Reed wants the dial back, has escaped from prison to acheive this, and enlists slacker Feldon to assist him. Thankfully, Robby Reed is depicted by Will Pfiefer with a non-cynical revisionist slant, and gives us an unsettling, somewhat creepy (but not totally evil- at least not by what we've seen so far) persona which leads us to believe that Rob has his own reasons for re-acquiring the dial- and they won't benefit our Jerry. It's still too early to tell, but this promises to be an excellent arc. We also get a new penciller in Dale Eaglesham, with whom I'm not familiar but has a pleasing, if a bit slick, style- similar to Rags Morales or Steven Sadowski, perhaps. All good so far. A-

Only the (apparently) complete inability of artist Enrique Breccia to illustrate the human being prevents this from being an excellent comic series so far, because Andy Diggle is sharp, giving us a script which not only attempts to deal with all the random continuity introduced by hosts of other writers over the last 20 odd years, but also crafts a compelling story and does it with wit and style. Fortunatley, Breccia can illustrate most everything else very well, and he creates an excellent mood which is only slightly shaken when we're confronted with his horrendously ugly Tefe or his big-lipped Constantine. Offsetting this somewhat is a very effective portrayal of Sargon the Sorcerer, who, frankly, has never been as interesting to me as he is in this issue. Sometimes, I suppose, one has to make concessions in order to appreciate the whole, and that's what I'm doing here. A-

I blame Frank Quitely and his slyly sexy cover portrait of Risa Del Toro (who's apparently a sloppy drinker) for me picking this up. And despite the wretched pun of the series title plus the fact that artist David Hahn's polite style seems to be a bit neat and tidy and cute for the sanguinary goings-on it depicts, and that this reads like another David Tischman writing from Chaykin notes scribbled on a cocktail napkin at some Hollywood power lunch or another effort, I actually kinda liked this. It's got a sense of naughty fun and a snarky tone which I suppose Tischman must have picked up from Chaykin by osmosis by now, and an interesting cast of characters. Plus, for some reason it reminds me of a criminally (no pun intended) neglected Vertigo series of the mid 90s, Mobfire...I picked that one up for the heck of it, and wound up digging it deeply. I hope that this is the case with Bite Club...we shall see, I suppose. B+

The final issue of this showcase for other interpretations of Mignola's brainchildren gives us a Kaluta cover that just shows to go ya that even the great stumble once in a while- my admiration for the art of Mike Kaluta knows no bounds, but gahd is that a wretched Hellboy drawing, plus the cover just doesn't mean anything except that MwK is on a aeronautics kick right now. Much better is the first story, a cutesy tale from that queen of whimsy, Jill Thompson, which really doesn't make a lot of sense but is gorgeously illustrated in what would seem to be pen & ink and watercolors. Next up is a tale by manga stalwarts Kia Asmiya and Akira Yoshida that is again, nicely drawn but the story is nothing special, with a anticlimactic ending. Evan Dorkin draws and writes the best story this time out, a funny story of Roger the homonoculous visiting a psychiatrist. Dorkin get some funny lines in, takes some shots at death metal and Goth afecionados, doesn't scrimp on the serious stuff...plus he gives us a great job on the art with coloring by Sarah Dyer. Great stuff. Finally, a so-so cartoony illo by Gary Fields, another pointless Lobster Johnson retro comics exercise, and a beautiful back cover pinup by Lee Bermejo that I thought was by J.H. Williams until I read the table of contents. Hellboy: Weird Tales was a worthy, if often inconsistent, experiment and I hope perhaps it will come back again someday. B+

The title of this arc is "Life is Full of Disappointments", and that certainly is appropriate as we get this rushed and poorly drawn finale. What appeared to be a promising mystery story gets derailed by the perceived desire to wrap everything up in three issues, plus a somewhat unnecessary Huntress cameo (geez- couldn't the detective have found the news she gave him on his own?). I think the rotating writer situation is hurting this book more than helping it- Brubaker sets up something great, then it's time for Rucka again, and while you like these characters, and want to know them better, they're getting kinda lost in the shuffle and it's not helped by the tendency of both to introduce new ones each time they take the reins with a new arc. Plus, when Greg Scott's doing the art honors, none of the characters look the same from issue to issue or even page to page, and that's frustrating. Lark's much, much better, but he gets undermined by the wretched Loughridge color scheme, which renderes each and every player in unrelentingly muddy hues of yellow, brown and green and doesn't give us, the flustered reader, much in the way of visual cues. This is still a worthy book, especially when Brubaker is scripting, but some streamlining and a new colorist would make a world of difference. B

1602 8
This patchwork concoction of Neil Gaiman, which stumbled out of the gate but eventually hit its stride towards the end, finishes strongly, if a bit haphazardly, with some creepily effective scenes (like Clea channeling Doc Strange while holding his severed head in her hands- eww) and a few of the pretty obvious "secrets" (like the true identity of Virginia Dare's blonde protector) revealed. And despite some random acts of incoherence at the end (why the heck did Banner change into the grey Hulk at the end? Maybe I just wasn't paying attention), it all comes together and stands as a mostly entertaining, seldom thought-provoking and never-as-clever-as-it-thinks-it-is glorified What If? that, had I to do it all over again, would most certainly pass on...or hope to find the trade at 50% off one of these days. I'm mulling over whether or not to send Andy Kubert the bill for all the eye drops I've used while straining my eyes at his blurry art with its ham-handed Photoshopping. This issue B-. Entire series: C+

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Just for shits and giggles, here's a sketch I did back in '00 whilst waiting for a drawng class to begin, featuring a titanic crossover team-up type thing that you'd think would be kinda cool. I suppose I should say that both characters are © the respective copyright holders. Click to see it all bigger-like.
OK. Got to make this quick.

Thursday evening, got together with some of the survivors of Black Tuesday (the day, one year ago on the 15th of April, when we were all made redundant by the fine folks at Camping World and AGI) at the mexican restuarant where we met to drown our sorrows after the axe fell on that fateful day. So, faithful to the spirit of the memory of the event, I foolishly proceeded to drink too much and got a bit tipsy, which meant I got home pretty late. Had to get up the next morning at 6 am. Felt crappy all day, and on top of that it was ungodly busy, which meant no time for blogging. When I got home, I fell into the easy chair and was asleep by 9:00. Woke up and went to bed. So that explains my absence from your headspace yesterday.

Today, it's 10:12 and I have twenty three skadillion things to do, like cut the grass (I haven't done that yet this year, and brother, it's tall), get my oil changed, trim the overgrown holly tree in front of my house, etcetera, etcetera. I hope perhaps to get around to doing some posting tonight, but who knows. Tomorrow, I am once again the ringmaster of the holy roller circus from 6 am to 2:30 pm at good old WLOC, so I might get some post time then. Can't say. But Monday- sweet Monday- I'm off from work, and wonderfully obligation-free except for a dental appointment, so I hope to make blog hay for sure then.

Stay tuned!

In the meantime, go check out the following:

A sweet poster and site for Lebowskifest, an annual event held in Louisville. Maybe I'll attend one of these days. Found at Rockin Rhonda's.

The ergonomic pirate keyboard, over at Ken's. The "avast" key is a hoot and a half.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Once again, I'm being put in a position where I'm a tad concerned and upset due to the cancellation of a comic I didn't buy: Stormwatch: Team Achilles. I liked Ellis' Stormwatch, but didn't care for subsequent revival attempts and spinoffs of both that book and Authority, so once again I seem to be part of the problem. Like it's companion in discontinuation, WildC.A.T.S. 3.0, S:TA seemed to be a book about superheroes for people who don't like traditional superheroes...and apparently what the Big Two are trying to move away from in favor of eleventy thousand rehashes of properties that have been hashed and rehashed beyond recognition many times before, each time proclaiming "BACK TO BASICS and the THINGS THAT MADE COMICS GREAT" with the fervor of those old snake oil salesmen in the old west. Having been through nearly every one of these, all I can do is sigh and resign myself to having less and less to buy each week as worthy attempts at envelope pushing get killed, watered-down or stillborn as time goes by.

But then again, maybe everything will be just fine and the age old law of survival of the fittest will apply. Who the hell knows.

Ed Brubaker preaches some gospel and attempts to allay fears about the demise of Sleeper over at Newsarama.
Since I haven't posted anything about Vera Brosgol, Jen Wang or any of the other pants Pressers for what- a couple of days? Here's more Flight news, courtesy of CBR. Yes, I first saw it at John Jakala's splendorifous blog.
A while back I wrote about the amazing 'fro of Oscar Gamble...now here's a funny page on ESPN.com naming the all-time hair team in MLB. Right now, Gamble is leading the fan voting for the captain. The picture they have of him is from one of those old Topps baseball cards, probably of 1977 vintage, where they used to take a picture of a recently traded player and airbrush over it, and cut and past the logo on the picture, and it looked every bit as cheesy as it sounds. These days, we have Photoshop, so now we have a higher quality of cheese.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

As reported several other places, bad news if you're a WildC.A.T.S. 3.0 reader: it's been canned. It's also bad news, or at the least unsettling, if you're a fan of books which sell similarly, like Losers or Sleeper, just to name a couple of obvious examples. If DC's beginning to get all cost conscious on us, it could get messy.

I gotta bear some blame, I suppose; WildC.A.T.S. 3.0 looked interesting but I kept thinking "I'll wait and pick up a trade, to see if I want to commit". And at the risk of validating Peter David or John Byrne, I'll venture a guess that I wasn't the only one.
After reading this, I think now's as good a time as any to repeat for the record that I am in no way affiliated or associated, nor do I represent in any shape, fashion or form the Bacardi rum distillery, despite an acknowledged fondness for and predelection to partake of their product upon occasion. Thank you.

Thanks to Kevin for the link!
So far, it's been kind of a slow day here at the Snooz. I've already checked my usual internet stops at least three times each already. Those of you who mourn the lack of significant music content here at the Show lately will be happy to know that I'm two albums in on a brand new Mondo Vinyl-O...but I'm not at home and I don't have a list of albums I've listened to lately handy, so I gotta wait till I'm at home to write it! I want to write something, just to pass the time...so I think I'll look at DC's recently solicited upcoming comics list for July, like so many of my comics blogosphereiversal brethren have lately. For the full list, you can go here; I don't intend to comment on all of them, just the ones which have caught me fancy.

CATWOMAN: NINE LIVES OF A FELINE FATALE TP: This looks like it might be a fun read, despite the fact that I've only been interested in this character once, during the recent Brubaker/Cooke/Stewart run. I'd like to re-read some of the 60s and 70s that will be reprinted, but I don't care to pay 15 bucks for the privilege. C'est la vie.

GOTHAM CENTRAL #21: I see here where Michael Lark has grown himself an inker, with whom I'm totally unfamiliar. Probably no big deal, but Lark's art is a big reason why I'm buying. Update Ed Brubaker himself just emailed me to remind me that Stefan Gaudiano has been inking Lark since issue 13. To quote that noted pundit, Homer Simpson, "D'oh". Of course, this means that if I correct my error, then I won't have anything to say about GC 21...except that you should be buying this book. It's good.

BLOODHOUND #1 Good to see Robin Riggs getting inking work, but I've been extremely underwhelmed by everything Dan Jolley's attached his name to since day one. Maybe it's the hangover effect from buying Lazurus Five faithfully, don't know. This doesn't look all that interesting, but it could have a PG-13 kind of 100 Bullets vibe...but maybe that's just the Dave Johnson cover talking.

CHALLENGERS OF THE UNKNOWN #2: Despite the fact that it's been at least ten years (anybody remember Power & Glory from Malibu/Bravura?) since Chaykin's done anything I've wanted to read, I'm gonna pick this one up. Call it a hunch. Mighty Love looked like P&G redux, plus it was another overpriced hardcover, so I wasn't gonna get that one. American Century piqued my interest, but it, along with some of the stuff Howie's attached his name to since he went to Hollywood on us, just came across to me like his involvement amounted to nothing more than a plot outlined scrawled on a napkin on the way to one script conference or another, and David Tischman did all the work. The absence of Tischman's name on this umpteenth revival of the Challs gives me a little hope. Just a little.

DC COMICS PRESENTS: BATMAN #1: For what it's worth, I used to own a copy of the comic that Adam Hughes satires on the cover. It was one from the height of TV-show inspired Bat-mania. One of four seperate comics done as a tribute to Julius Schwartz, it seems like a nice idea with some interesting creators but I think I'll pass. Maybe if I see them in the quarter box in a couple of years.

DC: THE NEW FRONTIER #5: Wishy washy as ever, I see both sides of the great Cooke-Millar debate that's been going on lately, so I haven't chosen to opine. That being said, there's no way in hell I'm not gonna pick this up.

GREEN LANTERN/GREEN ARROW VOL. 2 TP: You know, at $12.95, you could do worse than to pick this and Vol.1 up. I remember reading these back in the day, had several issues back in my original collection, and these were some groundbreaking (at the time) stories, wonderfully drawn by Neal Adams before legions of imitators dulled the impact of his hyper-realistic style. Yeah, they're dated, but that doesn't make 'em any less interesting.

H-E-R-O #18: Whee! Just like I hoped, the Robby Reed subplot seems to have taken some interesting turns. Plus, the cover's by the underrated Jason Pearson.

JUSTICE LEAGUE ELITE #1: Despite the fact that the title makes it sound like too many horrible 90s team comics from DC, Image and Marvel, I'm actually looking forward to this very much. I thought Joe Kelly's run on JLA was often brilliant, when it wasn't incoherent, and I still think the art team of Doug Mahnke and Tom Nguyen are the best mainstream superhero artists out there today. So, yeah, I'm buyin'.

THE LEGION #35, THE LEGION #36: Good thing I just dropped this book, as it is one of several that are coming out bi-weekly in July. The story doesn't sound like much, and I can think of at least three hundred artists I'd rather see draw the LSH than Dan Jurgens.

SLEEPER SEASON TWO #2: Sweet cover.

BITE CLUB #4: Since I haven't read #1 yet, I can't really comment on this book, but I do know this: that ain't no Frank Quitely cover. Looks like interior artist David Hahn to me.

THE COMPLEAT MOONSHADOW TP: I read and enjoyed the first series when it was published back in the 80s, under the auspices of the Epic imprint. Thought it was imaginative, whimsical, often touching and wonderfully illustrated by John Jay Muth. However, when I sold my original collection back in 1987, I let it go. Didn't pick it up when Vertigo re-released it, nor did I get the sequel. Both have been collected here, and I'd love to get it, but $40? No. Hell no.

100 BULLETS #51: Looks like we're getting a story arc set in New Orleans this time- sounds good to me. I especially look forward to seeing Risso depicting the Big Easy.

THE LOSERS #14 : Glad to see there's gonna be 14 issues, but I'm a wee bit concerned to see the name of Nick Dragotta (does that sound like a gangster name or what) in the art credits. I want nothing to dilute my Losers experience.

SEBASTIAN O TP: I'll bet you a million bucks that the re-release of this completely unremarkable and poorly drawn mini series from, what- 1992? was part of Grant Morrison's deal for leaving Marvel. Otherwise, I have no explanation why this was exhumed from the quarter boxes. If you pay more than 1 buck for this, you're being ripped off.

THE WITCHING #2: I love those McPherson covers, but I wanna see the interiors before I commit. The days of buying comics 'cause I like the covers are, like my days of drinking hard liquor all night long and not being excruciatingly hung over, long in the past.

Well, that was good enough to kill about 30 minutes! Problem is, I still have 3 hours to go. I know, I know, be careful what you wish for...
Courtesy of Bookslut: An interesting interview with Dame Darcy. Darcy doesn't sound like a happy camper these days, and that's a shame.
Today is the day in which Jesus was nailed to the cross!

(that dun sound too happy)

Never fear, he be back in 3 days. Just in time for the egg hunt.

Funniest thing I read referencing easter over the weekend. From yet another new blog, by Shawn Liu. I will link to you ASAP, Shawn, as soon as I can get in front of a PC. My Blogger template is allergic, apparently, to Mac IE5...

Monday, April 12, 2004

A peek into my comics buying future, according to the new Diamond shipping list...

H-E-R-O #15
1602 #8

And that be it, mateys. I should also be getting Swamp Thing 2 and Deep Sleeper 2, unless my comics shop pulls some more shenanigans on me, always a possibility. Looks like a solid, if not especially exceptional week, with Gotham Central and Fables, as usual, a highlight. And just for the hell of it, I'm gonna pick up Bite Club, despite the cringe inducing title. Maybe it was just the subliminal effect of seeing that Quitely cover, the one with the young girl vamp in her panties, over and over again. I'm so weak.
Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Y'know, I'm still enjoying the Kim Possible cartoon on Disney. It has remained clever, fun and smart, and not written down for its teenage audience. The reason I state this is that whilst clicking around this morning, I came upon the site of former Impulse (among other DC books) artist Craig Rousseau, who has apparently been doing some design work on KP for Disney, as well as some of the comics appearing in the Disney Adventures digest. He drew a slightly more "realistic" version of Kim on his site, and it is with the most noble of intentions that I stole it and now present it to you. He did Ron, Shego and Doc Drakken too, but if you want to see them you'll need to go here.
Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

OK, I went to see Hellboy yesterday. You know, some people say I look like him. They say "You look like hell, boy!" and I reply "Well, I feel like hell, boy!" Ba-da-boom, crash! Hey, just like comedy! Anyway. Oh, yes. Hellboy the movie. Right.

Anyway, did I love Hellboy the movie? No. Did I hate Hellboy the movie? Occasionally. So I'll narrow it down for you. Things I loved: the production design, where I feel "executive producer" Mike Mignola probably had his biggest influence. All the sets and monsters looked great, like pains were taken to mimic the heavy blackspotted world of Mignola. Casting was excellent. They did a good job of finding actors which resembled their fictional counterparts, and fortunately they could all act. There was an occasional quip or joke which was amusing. And the story moved along at a brisk pace, rarely slowing down with one glaring exception. I liked the scene with HB and Jeffrey Tambor's character, who was annoying at first but won me over with the "don't light a cigar with anything but a wood match" line. I thought Selma Blair had the right mix of detachment and fire, if you'll excuse the expression, as Liz Sherman. And of course, Perlman did a good job with the script he was given. He is really an underrated actor.

Things I didn't love: Hellboy. The character. The movie Hellboy character, that is. The Hellboy I've been reading since 1995 is not the Hellboy we get in this film. I can't say why, exactly, the changes were made- but about the only similarity, personality-wise, in this HB and that HB is the gruffness, and of course the big stone hand. The Hellboy I like in the comics is not a puppy-lovesick sap, who follows his girlfriend as she walks down the street with another man, and shares a little cutesy-time with a kid on a rooftop, a scene which brought the film to a grinding halt there for a while. The BPRD does not keep that Hellboy locked up in a maximum security cell, Hulk-like, nor is he relegated to the status of a sasquatch-like urban legend. The Hellboy I read in the comics is referred to (somewhat tongue-in-cheekly, true) as the "World's Greatest Paranormal Investigator", for chrissakes, and the BPRD is a fully recognized branch of the government, not covered up as a "library". I know, I know, The filmmakers felt they needed to "humanize" HB more, to make him into a more recognizable, humanish and palatable character, which the non-fans could identify with, relate to, and reference to other characters. But in doing that, they practically took everything that was unique, likeable, and charismatic about the comics' Hellboy, and it astounds me that they couldn't understand that. The movie gives us a juvenile, arrogant, chainsmoking, disagreeable hitting machine, and this portrayal did absolutely nothing for me. Moving along, while the opening scene with the Allied raid on the big Nazi summoning was done well, it still was tinkered with too much to be different from the perfectly logical comic story for my liking. Same goes with the resolution, in which the comics' death of Rasputin was far more impressive than the somewhat by-the-way demise he got in the film. I don't know what the hell they were trying to do with Kroenen, making him some sort of clockwork zombie, except to create the sort of Oddjob-like henchman-assassin that filmmakers seem to feel every film like this has to have. While he looked effective, I felt the character was absoultely unnecessary, plus this version eliminated the wit and menace that the comics' evil Nazi trio (which also included the homogonized Ilsa we got here) had.

So there you go. And I fully recognize that I probably should have seperated it more from the comics version as I watched; a film is a film, apparently, and a comic is what it is, and it is decreed that ne'er the twain shall meet. I understand that, really I do, and I knew that going in. I think I dislike Hellboy the movie more for what it isn't than what it is, and what it is is an above-average comic book horror slash action thriller. While it's pretty much structured like all the others, in terms of plot progression, it does have a varied and interesting cast of characters and the effects were nicely done. So go, see Hellboy the movie...it's diverting and doesn't insult the intelligence too much. You won't miss anything, though if you wait for it to come out on DVD and rent it then. If I had to stick a letter grade on it, I'd give it a B- and leave it at that- I just wish that the filmmakers hadn't felt the need to sand off all the rough edges and tinker with the source material so much.

*Grigori and his assistants have bad attitudes for wanting to help the Nazis win WWII using the occult and then for wanting to complete their supernatural takeover of the world.
* The Nazis have bad attitudes for being Nazis and trying to evoke occult powers to defeat the Allies.

Those bastard Nazis!

This is one of the entries in Screen-It! 's review of Hellboy. Screen-It is a site for concerned parents to check out reviews of films, music, etc., where they're screened for certain kinds of content. Got several chuckles out of it, thought you might, too.
The GREAT LOSERS GIVEAWAY has now concluded, and the lucky winners have been chosen. Hie thee to Fuckwood Ragering to readeth the list, which includeth some very funny entries. Yea verily.

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Seems like every time I check out the Pants Press Sketchblog, I get directed to another interesting site. Case in point: the most recent sketch posted was by the mega-talented Jen Wang, a birthday present for one Kazu Kibuishi of his character Daisy Kutter. A link led me to his site, featuring his webcomic Bolt City, and from there to a preview of the upcoming 4 issue miniseries featuring that character. It's pretty darn excellent. Go read!

Update: Duh. I know where I've heard of Kibuishi now...he's the fellow that's putting together the upcoming Flight anthology, featuring several of the Pants Pressers and others. Hope I can afford a copy when it finally does come out...
Image Hosted by ImageShack.us


What I bought and what I thought, week of April 7

Clever, cute, charming...all the usual positive C-words apply to this nice little mini, which didn't disappoint me at all. After her period of doubt and her dalliance with the devil, Frankie reclaims her faith and finds that her diety never lost his, as the title suggests. I also was pleasantly surprised with the oh-what-the-heck ending, giving us a resolution to the relationship issues that you don't see very often, to say the least. Mike Carey has shown that he's just as comfortable with the lighter side of theological fantasy as he is with the more serious side we get over in Lucifer, and hopefully he'll get the chance to revisit it someday. Also nicely done was the art of Sonny Liew, who along with inker Marc Hempel kept the proceedings lively and gave us a fun vision of Frankie's world. More, please. This issue: A-, entire series: A-.

What is perhaps the strongest Hellboy spinoff series yet continues in fine form, as Abe, Roger, and Co. investigate further into the menace of the frog creatures from the first HB series. The jury's still out, at least as far as I'm concerned, as to whether the rest of the BPRD can be as interesting on their own as they are when they provide a contrast to Hellboy's mostly anti-intellectual approach...but I will say that I am becoming more and more convinced that Guy Davis is really hitting his stride in the last couple of years, first with Nevermen and now this- his art here is sharp, tight, and dynamic, something it frequently wasn't back in his Sandman Mystery Theatre days. A-

Thessaly searches high and low for the way to defeat the supernatural doom which has been sicced on her petite ass, and finds a glimmer of hope in a most unlikely place. The first issue didn't excite me much, the second kicked in a little over halfway through, and I was drawn in early on in this one, with its solid dialogue and enjoyable fantasy aspects (hardly a stretch for writer Bill Willingham, since he's been doing it so well over at Fables, but still not always easy- witness the first Thessaly mini)...so it's anybody's guess whether the finale next month will live up to my expectations. My hunch is that it will. Artist Shawn McManus has gotten better, too, with many of the mannerisms and inconsistencies that had bugged me about both the first issue of this (and the previous mini as well) ceasing to be such a glaring problem, at least to my eyes. And, of course, another wonderful cover by Tara McPherson...marred only by some dubious indicia-placement by somebody in production or editorial. A-

If I go get my copy of Swamp Thing #2 before Wednesday, I'll probably update this and add a review of it as well...but I ain't got it so I cain't review it. Same goes for Deep Sleeper 2, which may have been the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Time now to dive back in to the AiT/PlanetLar pool.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usLAST OF THE INDEPENDENTS
Maybe it's just the assembled wiseguys on the back cover, straight outta Reservoir Dogs, but once again I'm reminded of Tarantino...this time crossing The Sopranos or Goodfellas and Of Mice And Men with a caper flick starring James Garner, Chris Penn, and oh, I don't know...Jennifer Lopez, maybe. Anyway, Independents is the story of a tough-guy cowboy type who owns a decrepit amusement park "somewhere out west", and lives with a tough-girl pilot and a somewhat intellectually challenged, good-natured fellow who's built like a linebacker. Tired of scraping along, they decide to knock off a local bank...which just happens to be a money-laundering facility for the Mob. Unwisely, they take the Mob money along with the ordinary money, and take pains to cover their tracks, but the Mob understandibly is not having any of this and sends a battalion or two of made men and their goons to get it back. And of course, our motley trio of bank robbers is up to the task of fending them off, until the mobsters finally manage to get the upper hand- but you just know our cowboy still has some tricks up his sleeve. Matt Fraction has crafted a lively and fast-paced script, marred only by some strained credibility (hardly a novel thing with this type of story) and a determined lack of surprises, although there is one death that I wasn't expecting, given the tone of the story to that point. Kieron Dwyer is an artist whose work I had seen once or twice before, mostly on superhero stuff, and thought it was OK. He shows a nice flair for down-to-earth dramatics and action, and his style reminds me a lot of John Buscema with Tony DeZuniga inks here and there, but a lot tighter. The art seems to have been done on parchment (or perhaps Photoshopped to look like it) with brown inks, which is eye-catching but becomes a little monotonous, kinda like Charlie Adlard's experiment with chalk-and-charcoal on grey paper on White Death. I'm all for experimentation, but I think perhaps there's a reason why this sort of multimedia work is still looked upon as experimental in a storytelling sense...B+

Continuing with the QT comparisons, now we have Jackie Brown meets The Question, or perhaps Rorschach. Lots of Ditko influence in writer Joe Casey's concept, methinks, and this book reminds me of a Charlton comic for some reason. Codeflesh chronicles the exploits of one Cameron Daltrey, a bail bondsman who couldn't control his temper with skips, and after one particularly brutal incident, was instructed by a judge that he could keep his business but was forbidden to hunt down the often super-powered skips himself. So he comes up with a handy solution: he dons a mask, decorated Rorschach-style with a bar code (to emphasize his status as a bought-and-sold commodity, I suppose, even though this is more implied than made explicit) and goes after them undercover, essentially working for himself in disguise. Problem is, he can't be in two places at once, and his suspicious girlfriend doesn't like being ignored. So in between chasing down and beating up freakish thugs, he argues with his girlfriend, she breaks up with him, he keeps trying to get her back, and so on. Kinda reminds me of the sort of thing that Spider-Man had to deal with back in the day. He also has a partner, name of "Staz", who really doesn't seem to do much except answer the phone and drive Daltrey here and there. All things considered, though, Codeflesh succeeds in being a fast-paced street-level actioner, full of brawls and seediness, despite the superheoric overtones. That Adlard fella does the art honors, and keeps things moving along briskly...but his work looks different here than I've seen previously, which may be due to a couple of things- I don't know when this was originally printed, so it may be some of his earliest stuff and therefore less polished, or perhaps he just consciously decided to ink with a fatter, sloppier line to compliment the tone of the story. Reminds me a bit of Ian (Halo Jones) Gibson in places, it does. I'd definitely like to read any further Codeflesh stories, just to find out where it's all going. Haven't heard of any new issues or graphic novels coming out anytime soon, so I won't hold my breath. A-

I'm lumping all these together, because they're essentially three chapters of the same story which deals with "Urban Mercenary Couriers" Moustafa, Special (I kept wanting to hum "Brass In Pocket" whenever someone called out her name), and Moustafa's girlfriend Olive, who's no UMC but can take care of herself for the most part, and has in nerve what she lacks in smarts. Moustafa and Special are couriers, just like the guys and gals you see on bikes and rollerblades every day, but they don't just deliver legal papers and takeout Chinese- oh no. They augment their income by carrying stuff of a decidedly more serious, and deadly, nature. Big money, data, weapons, protection services, and so on. Of course, they are young, hip, badass extreme fighting machines, deadly living weapons on roller skates and bicycles, able to do complicated stunts that would make Jackie Chan stare in amazement, and can shoot like Gunny Sergeant Hartman's wettest dream. In The Couriers, the trio mix it up with a sadistic Chinese general (you know he's a bad guy when he nonchalantly tosses a young girl's pet cat out the window) who has tracked the girl, who saw something in his house she shouldn't have, to NYC (she was sent there by her mother, presumably to keep her safe) where our duo has been hired to collect her and ensure her safety. Much high-tech and low-tech mayhem ensues, before the mostly satisfying resolution. Like Bill Sherman, one has to wonder where the authorities were while all this was going on, especially in the post-911 NYC climate. Oh well, there's that suspension of disbelief thing coming into play again, and even that gets stretched beyond recognition when Special (she's got to have some of your attention...sorry) does a flip onto a speeding motorcycle, sticks her shotgun in a guy's mouth, and shoots through his head and also through the helmet of the cycle's driver. Awesome, dude! Then she cracked open a cold Mountain Dew. Aw, I'm making that part up. Even the artist recognizes that it's most likely impossible, so ya gotta give him credit for that. Dirtbike Manifesto begins with a weapons delivery gone bad, and when one of the Courier group dies, Moustafa and Special head to upstate New York (for some reason portrayed like it's Kentucky or Tennessee, except with lots of snow) and mix it up with redneck militia types who were connected his death. Brian Wood gives this story an interesting spin with a pair of antagonists who function like counterparts to M and S, and most of the second half of the book is taken up with an extended fight scene between them, including a dirt bike chase through a snowy woods. Again, all fast-paced and full of action, and this tale isn't quite as hard on the old disbelief suspension, so I liked it a bit more. However, my favorite of the three was Couscous Express, in which we meet M's girlfriend Olive for the first time (I believe this was the first of the three novels), and are introduced to the Couriers via a conflict between Olive's family and "stylish and dangerous Turkish scooter enthusiast Mafioso", in which Olive enlists her boyfriend's aid. Another reason why I liked Express more was the Chris Bachalo-meets-Ted McKeever art of Brian Weldele, as opposed to the less satisfactory (to me, anyway) work of "Rob G", artist on the other two books. Weldele starts the story in heavy ink wash, then abruptly changes to a simplified, choppily inked and heavily zip-a-toned style for the bulk of the book before going back to wash at the end. He does both styles well (even though he has a tendency to get carried away with copying and pasting the same image several times on a page), fortunately, so it's not the annoyance you'd think. About Rob G., well, what can I say. I'm sure he's a cool guy, and a great skateboarder, and is a whiz on a computer (he certainly knows how to use a Photshop filter to suggest movement, as he does several times during his two stories)...but I found his work crude and unsatisfying, with especially poor figure drawings. He manages to provide an occasional pose or action scene with a little spark, and there are a couple of cityscapes which are as intricate as they are sloppy, and impressive in spite of themselves, but for my money I would hope a better artist could be found to illustrate the further adventures of our far-fetched, but still likeable, "Urban Mercenary Couriers". I like this concept and these characters a lot more than I like the execution (if you'll excuse the expression) so far. The Couriers: C+; Dirtbike Manifesto: B-; Couscous Express: A-.

More later, hopefully over the weekend, including Channel Zero, Jennie One, and Available Light.
Funny 'toonish stuff: Homestar Runner.
Been one of those days, cats and kittens. The Classified & Display Ad department people have been bringing in ads all day nonstop, just like John Lennon shoveling spaghetti to Ringo's Auntie in Magical Mystery Tour.

Right now the shelf is empty, so I'm gonna try and squeeze in a link or three and even some commentary, when nobody's looking.

That Larry Young fella is certainly doing right by us comics blogospheriverse types, that's for sure. He started a thread over at the Millarverse message boards, asking if anybody read any comics blogs, and which ones- then, in best money in mouth form, proceeded to post links to many of us including yours truly. I am honored.

The Eisner Award nominations have come out, and I'm probably the last person to link to them. Oh well. The most competitive category seems to be Best New Series, which not only includes The Losers, but Sleeper and The Walking Dead. Of course you know which one I'd vote for when push came to shove, but that's some strong competition. Also, I'm amazed at some of the names on the Hall of Fame ballot- not that they're there, but that they're not already in! People like Wayne Boring, Al Capp, Jules Feiffer, Lou Fine, Floyd Gottfredson, Graham Ingels, Don Martin, Gilbert Shelton, and Jerry Robinson! How can you have a "Hall of Fame" and not have these people in it? I'd have a hard time choosing the "Talent Deserving of Wider Recognition", as well...Derek K. Kim, Christine Norrie, Brian Wood, and Jeff Parker have all done some excellent work lately.

I'm reminded of the Yankees signing Alex Rodriguez when I read about Powers jumping from Image to Marvel. Oh yeah, Kabuki is going, too, but I don't read that one. I don't think that Powers will suffer in quality, and sales might actually go up, so it's a win-win situation for everyone but Image, no matter what Erik Larson says.

Congratiamulations to Kevin Melrose, who (as I'm sure most of you are aware, since everybody else has already posted about it) will be getting a story published in the 17th issue of Digital Webbing Presents. Also, Graeme McMillian, he of the rotating blog names, is anticipating doing some art for an upcoming anthology from Variance Press. My, arent we a talented bunch here in the ol' comics blogosphereiverse! Of course, hell is still hot, and I most certainly have no artwork appearing anywhere anytime anyplace anyhow, unless it's here on this blog. Don't see that changing anytime soon, either.

Guess this is all I have time for right now. Many reviews coming up, if I can get some computer time at home.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Well, I was moved earlier today to comment on the Darwyn Cooke/Mark Millar thing, but I didn't like what I wrote so it's gone. I'd rather point you to a great feature article on the Mike Sekowsky Emma Peel-ish Wonder Woman over at the Pulse.

Since DC apparently has no intention of releasing a collected volume of these in my lifetime, I'd love to buy some of the original singles...but they're very scarce and expensive when they do turn up. Such is my lot.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Just saw over at Franklin's where this humble blog has come in at #76 on Blogarama's 100 Cool Blogs list. Not to toot my own horn, you understand...I was just happy to be included. Franklin and Bill Sherman also are on the list, as is the lovely Agatha's Experience, to whom I've been proudly linked for quite some time now. On this blog. I've unfortunately never met her.

Of course, there's no mention of how exactly this list was determined, so don't worry, I won't get the big head.

I was gonna follow up on last night's AiT/Planet Lar reviews with more, but I got the new Mojo magazine and it's chock full of musical goodness including feature articles on Queen and Sparks, and even a "how to buy" article on an artist I've been very interested in lately, John Martyn. So tonight I read. Reviews later.

The ongoing saga of me vs. my comics shop continues, as for some reason they only ordered one copy of Deep Sleeper 2, which went to the other holds customer signed up for it. They tried to explain why this was so but the explanation, sadly, didn't make much sense. They assured me that another copy is on the way, but this is getting old. I also just plain old overlooked Swamp Thing 2, which I neglected to add to my pull list after picking up #1 on an impulse. I recently checked out MyComicsShop.com, which offers discounts and significantly lower shipping costs (if you consider $8 a month significant), even if you choose weekly shipping. I have until April 26 to decide whether I want to try them out. I haven't checked to see if they bag 'n' board their (or, actually your) comics.

Still haven't seen Hellboy yet, thanks for asking. Maybe this weekend.

FedEx made another delivery to my door today, but no one was at home to receive it. They're supposed to bring it back tomorrow, and someone should be here to sign for it. Could it be the long-awaited package from Trevor Von Eeden? Stay tuned...!

OK. Back to the easy chair and Mojo. Oyasumi Nasai.
I've just been over to Fred Hembeck's (no permalink, it's the entry dated April 6th) where he describes his first baseball game and how they tie in to Avengers 6 and X-Men 6. Sounds like something that would have happened to me, except I would have stuck my copies in the program rather than fold them over. But I digress. Fred also posts the covers some really nice Mets programs, which were illustrated by one Willard Mullin, who is one hell of a good illustrator. I was totally unaware of the guy, and his work blows me away. I encourage you guys to check it out at his website by clicking on his name in the last sentence. Only problem with that site is that there isn't enough of his work reproduced there!

My first baseball game? Sometime in July of 1970, forget the exact date but it was right after they opened Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati. Reds vs. Phillies, ball day, got to meet then-rookie from nearby Cave City, Kentucky, Dennis Doyle- Reds lost 4-3. Saw Oscar Gamble and his gigantic afro. Didn't buy any comics. I think I'll click around and see if I can't find any documentation of this game.

OK, all right, now it's three sports related posts this month.

Update Well, one of the worst things about being older than God is that your memory really suffers. I finally found the box score for my first major league game. I was right about it being the Reds and the Phillies, but that's about all I was right about! The Reds won 4-2, and it was in mid-to-late August, not July. Found at a really cool site which has a huge archive of Major League boxscores from the better part of the last two centuries.

Update Update: I've gone in and found some other significant boxscores in my life: a 1991 game between the White Sox and Red Sox in Chicago, the only time I've been up to the Windy City to see my team; a 14-inning game vs. the Braves in which the winning runs weren't scored until the top of the 14th (Reds pitcher Mario Soto went 10 innings! You sure don't see that these days!), and in which I would have seen a triple play if the second baseman for the Braves hadn't bobbled the throw to first; and a 1988 game, also with the Phillies (how's that for symmetry?) which was my son's first and also the last game I ever saw with my Dad.
OK, I'll admit that this will make two sports posts in one month, but I just found out that one of my favorite White Sox players from back in the day, Black Jack McDowell, is writing a regular column for the Sporting News which is also featured on Yahoo!, and I wanted to share.
Just wanted to mention that Ken Lowery has upped the ante, if you will, on the Great, I mean GREAT LOSERS GIVEAWAY. Now, I know he's been trying to been trying to soft pedal this and be discreet, but it must be told. Losers writer Andy Diggle has donated some autographed posters which sound hella sweet, and those are being included in the haul. So if you're on the fence about entering, or just plain old feel a bit reluctant to tell a complete stranger why you're a loser (if nothing else, say "I'm a loser because I haven't been buying The Losers!), then, well, just get over it, Bub! The end justifies the means!

By the way...I sure would like to get one of those posters, Ken- can ya hook me up...?

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us Time now to begin examination of the generous bounty which Mr. Planet Lar(ry) Young hath bestowed upon me.

First, though, indulge me in a brief digression. Back in my printing factory days, at good old R.R. Donnelley, we had a special designation for a correction or additional change order that was requested by a customer. Those were carboned sheets of paper called "additional instructions to..." sheets, or (as we referred to them) AIT's. So whenever I see the full name of this particular publisher, "AiT/PlanetLar", I always flash back to my Donnelley days. Which is often depressing.

But fortunately, it doesn't last long, and I had no qualms about diving into the contents of the FedEx box which I received back on Friday. I think that this is a wonderful gesture by Mr. Lar, I mean Mr. Young, and I sincerely hope more publishers follow in his footsteps. Hint hint. I've seen, already, a few reviews popping up here and there amongst my comics blogospheriverse brethren like shoots from the sowing of seeds, and I've tried not to read them yet, so as not to influence my judgement. I have noticed, though, that nearly everyone, save that rebel Mad Bill Sherman, has started out by reviewing what is probably the highest-profile AiT series yet, Demo...and I'm gonna get to that one real soon. But I think I'll start off with another instead:

If you've ever wondered what a pirate comic would be like that's written by Bob Burden, with Gilbert Hernandez on pencils and his brother Jaime on inks, well, seek help. Or buy this comic. Dogs is more of the Burdenesque straightfaced absurdity which has been making a bit of a comeback in the last couple of years, what with Street Angel, Sock Monkey, and others, and reminds me a bit of S. Clay Wilson's pirate stories back in the good old underground comics days. It's basically about a group of modern-day (sometimes, though the time frame often is blurred or thrown out entirely) misfit pirates who sail the Seven Seas in search of, well, mostly beer and plunder, it seems, and are never adverse to getting in a good scrap if necessary. They board a ship of lepers, believig them rich Portugeuse, then go out and try to get "real" jobs in issue one; run afoul of the King of the Hobo Mafia while hunting for Mike Nesmith (to avenge the Bosun on his birthday, who lost his hand thanks to Da Nez and his bandmates) in issue 3, and best of all brawl with monkeys, gloriously, hilariously so, in issue 2. Pirates are the new monkeys, the ad copy keeps telling us, and that may be true, but pirates and monkeys together- now that's something special! All seriousness aside, I thought Scurvy Dogs was a hoot and a half, and a worthy successor to such inspired Pirate opuses as Wilson's immortal Captain Pissgums. A

White Death is set in World War I, along the Italy and Austrio-Hungarian border, at the foot of the mountains. That's important, because the title refers to the occasional avalanches which sometimes occurred naturally, and sometimes with help from explosives. It's a grim tale of the conflict between two soldiers, one an Austrian named Pietro (I know, comics geek that I am, I couldn't help thinking about Quicksilver) who grew up in those mountains and chose to ally himself with the Italians- which causes him a great deal of inner conflict, especially when he kills one of his childhood friends who was on the other side at the beginning of the story. Another central character is a ruthless commanding officer who will let no one or nothing stop him in carrying out his orders and making sure he survives, no matter what the cost. Of course you know these two butt heads, but during the course of the relentless events of this story many other things happen that make it difficult to narrow it down to just that single plot device. Death is at its best when it gives us the camraderie (or lack of it) between the soldiers, and effectively garners our empathy for not only Pietro, but many of the other participants in what surely was a hellish experience. As I read Death I was also reminded often of Mark Helprin's novel A Soldier of the Great War, which dealt with similar subject matter...and darned if White Death wasn't nearly as effective. The art, by Charlie Adlard (boy, when I said I was unfamiliar with Adlard's work on the occasion of his taking over art chores on The Walking Dead, did I ever get a crash course- his work graces several of the AiT books I received) is unusual- it's done with charcoal and chalk on a grey paper surface, and the results are suitably murky and glum- but he doesn't take a lot of pains to distinguish between the rank and file soldiers, and often it causes a bit of confusion as to who's who and what's what. Not a constant problem, but there were several times I had to backtrack and sort it out. Adlard's style reminds me a lot here of Dan Spiegel, high praise in my book, and White Death would have made a nifty serial in Blazing Combat, that long-ago Warren war mag, or (dare I say) even Kurtzman's EC war comics. A-

JFK if Quentin Tarantino instead of Oliver Stone had directed. What we have here is another speculation on the lost-and-gone forever possible events leading to the assassination of John F. Kennedy. This sort of thing has been done to death, but damned if Steven Grant hasn't come up with a fresh (at least to me, anyway- I'm far from a JFK buff) twist on it by giving us a possible candidate for the man on the grassy knoll in the person of a ex-con named "Connie", who seems capable and tough enough but just can't stay out of trouble. Badlands is well-written enough, although the story has a couple of places where the events skip around and threw me off for a second or two...probably more my fault than his. My biggest problem with this, though, is the terrible art by one Vince Giarrano, which is just poor- awkward figure drawings, sloppy inks, static action scenes, you name it. He seems to be striving sometimes for a Kyle Baker circa '88 look, but more often as not ends up with an Al Milgrom-inked-by-Josef Rubenstein result instead. But those fellas could at least draw the human body convincingly...Giarrano fails at this nine times out of ten and made Badlands more of a slog than it should have been. B

And finally...

DEMO 1-5
This is the one AiT title that I had actually noticed, when it came out a few months ago. Most of the time when I hear it mentioned, though, it's to compare it (favorably, I might add) to Marvel's thematically similar Nyx. For those who don't already know, Demo, (and I'll admit right up front that I have no clue what the hell the title is referring to) is a series of self contained stories about young people, some teens, some in their early 20s apparently, who have special abilities...powers, if you will. One causes explosions with her mind, and is fleeing with her boyfriend from an abusive mother. Another, a young tattooed dude who works with his father in the same factory, has super strength, and gets tested when the gang he hangs out with enlists his help in breaking in and robbing the company. Another young woman can appear to others as they want to see her, sort of reverse wish fulfillment. And so on. I didn't want to reveal anything about the surprising revelation in issue 3. While the notion of kids with superpowers is hardly fresh, author Brian Wood at least wisely plays it low key and as a result keeps it interesting. The only real reservation I have is that by keeping this as a series of unrelated short stories, I don't really have any clear cut feeling of any of this having a point. God knows I don't want them all to band together and don costumes and fight evil or any of that bullshit, but a glimpse into some sort of overarching purpose to all of this, if there is any, would be real helpful. And if there is no connecting thread, no sense of all of this having any sort of grand purpose whatsoever, it's going to devolve into episodic formula (already a bit of a concern- these stories tend to have a pattern to them) real soon, and that won't be so good. The somewhat manga-influenced art, by Becky Cloonan, seemed tentative at first- like she just couldn't get comfortable with her style. But by issue 3, she settled in with an ink line that made her pages look almost like woodcuts, and it gets better every issue. Demo is a book that has my interest for now, but I really hope that it transcends its somewhat limited subject matter into something more soon. A-

And that's it for now, more later!
Little bit busier today at work, can't you tell?

Anyway, I wanted to pass this on to you: apparently someone at the Sci-Fi Network's greenlighted an animated version of Mike Mignola's delightfully absurd Amazing Screw-On Head! What next? Scurvy Dogs?
I know, I know. Losers this, Losers that. Here's a nice review of Ante Up. Resistance is futile, to coin a phrase.

Monday, April 05, 2004

Boy, I've been a posting demon today, haven't I?

Anyway, the new Diamond shipping list is now up, and it looks like I'll be getting


And that's it! Looks like I'll be picking up that new Mojo magazine that came out last week, so I won't be getting off that easily. Besides, I'm still not through that monster shipment of AiT/Planet Lar books yet...I will get around to reviewing them very soon, probably 3 or 4 at a time over the next month or so. This week? Well, the first issue of Plague of Frogs was the strongest Hellboy spinoff in a good long while, and I see no reason why that shouldn't continue; Frankie is winding up, and I'm eager to see how it all gets resolved; Thessaly grabbed me about halfway through last issue, so it's got my attention now, and Deep Sleeper's premiere issue was intriguing stuff. So quality, not quantity, is the order of the day on Wednesday.
I was, like many of my comics blogospheriverse peers, invited a while back to participate in a group comics blog, named Four Color Hell. However, it seems to have lately fallen into disuse, and after a while I kinda let it slide as well. It's become a haven for comments spammers, sad to say. So imagine my surprise when I received this legitimate comment:

To the 4 color hell guy: thanks for the kind words. I should like very much to bring back Timespirits, first as a reprint for the generation that has come since I left comics, and then as the continuing series I had always envisioned. The Timespirits graphic novel "Doot Lives" never was published, and the script remains in a drawer, along with many other adventures of Cusick. I've tried to contact Tom (Yeates) but this is only the third week I have entered into the world of the internet -- surprised anyone remembers. After whoring on Thundercats and Silverhawks, and losing a major motion picture deal, I bummed and, while writing all these years, have published nothing since 1991.

Wow! Steven Perry, the writer of one of my all-time favorite comics series, the Epic/Marvel mid-80s Timespirits, found the list of 12 comics everyone should read, and felt moved to comment! I'm geeked in that fanboy way, for sure. It's especially cool to get an update on what he's been up to lately...I had wondered. I would love with all my heart to see him get another shot at continuing Timespirits, that's for sure. If any of you enterprising indie publishers are reading this, check into it!
Finally, I'll get around to commenting on Jeff Parker's Interman graphic novel, which he graciously sent me a copy of a few weeks ago.

Interman is a spy/sci-fi/action-thriller type concept, which introduces us to one Van Meach, who was the result of a secret government project conducted during the early 60s, the goal being to create a human who could be instantly adaptable to any environment or threat. After Van was "born", however, the project was sabotaged, the other samples destroyed, and the project was closed down. Baby Meach was at first taken in by the Professor who was project head, but then he was given to someone else later with instructions to monitor his progress and report in. Eventually, though, after administrative changes and other distractions, the sole progeny of the project was forgotten about...until an accountant discovered that the Meach family government stipend was still being paid, and when he brings it to the head of the CIA (who just happens to be the former military head of the Interman project), he arranges to have Van killed for fear of what he might become as well as what he represents.

This is very much a nutshell version of the premise behind Interman 1, and to me represents both its strengths and its slight failing. There's just a lot of stuff crammed into this one issue. Interesting scenarios, intrigue, fascinating characters, lots of rough-and-tumble action, but it all goes by so quickly that I got a little overwhelmed, whichis to say that I barely got a good feel for this or that character before they were gone and another was here to take his or her place. Like master spy/professional killer Outcalt, for example. The clever conceit behind the killer quintet "The Compass" was something I would have liked to have seen more of; May, who would seem to be another result of the Interman project, and several of the others who make up the large tapestry of this book. And to make it worse, many of these characters die, some after a bit of background, and some right after we meet them! This is not so much a shortcoming, though, as it is frustrating. Hopefully, Parker has a lot more characters left where they came from, to be showcased and knocked off in subsequent issues of Interman.

Otherwise, no real complaints. Parker's art evokes fond memories of reading comics illustrated by Doug Wildey, although his style is a bit looser than Wildey's. Still, he has a definite knack for composing his pages, especially his action scenes. Once in a great while, there's a face or a pose that looks a little too loose or awkward, but it doesn't happen often.

The Interman is a engrossing, exciting read, even if it is sometimes a bit gnarly plot-wise, and left me wanting to see more. I understand there's a movie in the works, perhaps, and that could be interesting as well, despite my misgivings about comics adaptations of films. I would think that spy/action films like Bond movies or The Bourne Identity (both the original and the remake) are some of the sources Parker had in mind when conceiving this, so perhaps it will be all right. Either way, hopefully there will be more graphic novels in the meantime...

For a preview of The Interman, go here.
Slow day at work today, cant'cha tell?

Anyway, here's something neat-o keen-o:

Open a fortune cookie!
Do you like chinese food? 
Your fortune To be a man means constant revision, like correcting a writing.
Is luck on your side? (8)Signs point to yes. - (8)
This QuickQuiz by Confused_Pete - Taken 114 Times.

Fox once again displays its staggering idiocy: Wonderfalls has been cancelled, nipped in the bud before it had a chance to hit its stride. I had my problems with many of the aired episodes, but I liked the concept and some of the actors a lot and was willing to stick with it in hopes it would get better...but the empty suits at Fox didn't share my conviction. There's an online petition to try to encourage a DVD release, which sounds like a worthy enough cause to affix one's proper name. So go, already.
OK, I've heard from several who've seen Hellboy already and wish to let me know that my fears are ungrounded. Plus, after scanning the reviews section at Rotten Tomatoes, critical reaction hasn't been as uniformly negative as I believed. Of course, until I go and see the damned thing for myself, my own opinions will have to wait...but I know two things I've read right off the bat bug the crap out of me. First, the subtle rearrangement of Hellboy's origin. Instead of being an accidental summoning, who pops up not in the Nazi camp but instead in the Allies', and Rasputin left holding the bag but still not accepting that he screwed up, now we have the Allied forces breaking in on the Nazi summoning and engaging in a big battle, with rasputin being sucked into a dimensional portal of some sort. Why in the name of pamcakes was this necessary? To get a gun battle right off the bat? Were the actual events of the comics' origin so confusing to Joe Sixpack that someone felt the need for a change? I don't understand. Also, the romance between HB and Liz Sherman. NO! NO, NO! People! I admit it makes a certain sense that a pyrotechnic and a hell-spawned demon would hook up, but IT'S NOT IN THE COMICS! Mignola had a reason to not hook up HB and Liz, and I was fine with it. Was it so important to gove him a love interest for the lazy fools who expect such a thing in every fricking movie they see? HB, so far in the comics (unless you count the romantic interest in the Lost Army prose novel), has shunned romantic entanglements, although he seems to have a soft spot for fellow agent Kate, whose last name eludes me right now. In the comics, Liz and Abe have a sort of relationship, or at least a closer understanding. Why was this necessary?

Aren't you glad you won't be seeing this film with me?
Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Should have posted this yesterday, but I disremembered. Yesterday marked nine years since the death of Priscilla Lane. The above picture, from the film Silver Queen (which I've never seen) was stolen from the wonderful Priscilla Lane Picture Gallery. A tribute night on TCM would have been nice, but let's face it- she's not a big enough name to warrant such treatment. Still, I'm thinking about trying to launch a campaign to get something like that on her birthday June 12. A petition or something, maybe. Stay tuned.
Time now for the monthly sports post.

I won the Yahoo! Fantasy Hockey League I was participating in! On the very last day of the regular season! Now, let's face it- I am far from knowledgeable about pucks, but I know to pick up hot players and cut cold ones, so I managed to squeak by, despite being in second place for about three months. Almost makes up for losing the NBA league I was in on the last day last year.

Baseball season is now under way, and here are my preseason picks:

NL: Philadelphia, Houston, San Diego. Wild Card: Chicago.
AL: Boston, Minnesota, Anaheim. WC: New York.

World Series: Anaheim and Philadelphia, with the Angels winning in six.

Clip 'n' save!

My beloved White Sox? 83-79, 3rd place in the AL Central. Reds? 74-82, 5th place in the NL Central. If Griffey goes down again or gets traded, exchange ten games to the negative.

College basketball? Well, since the somewhat overrated-going-in Kentucky Wildcats got eliminated, my interest has waned. Plus, I was kinda rooting for Oklahoma State, because of former UK coach Eddie Sutton. However, at least Duke got beat, always a good thing as far as I'm concerned. My radio station is carrying the broadcast of the Final Four championship tonight, so since I'll be listening I'll predict a 73-69 Connecticut win.

And that concludes the monthly sports post.
The Bacardi Show Political Correspondent sent me this several days ago, and I keep forgetting to post it. Apparently Mojo Nixon has decided to call it quits, and gave a "farewell performance" back on March 20. Of course, one always reacts with, shall we say, skepticism when confronted with those words together. Mojo, on the other hand, is ornery enough to mean it. I suppose being a self-imposed fringe cult artist gets old after a while. Anyway, as of this writing the official announcement is the front page on www.mojonixon.com, so go check it out.

Then let's go out, crack open a cold Pabst Blue Ribbon, and sing a rousing chorus of "Debbie Gibson Is Pregnant With My Two Headed Love Child".
The Great Losers Giveaway. What is it, you may ask? No we're not giving away people with low self-esteem. I'll let the Master of Ceremonies, none other than Ken of Ringwood Ragefuck renown, tell it in his own imitable way:

The time has come. Enough hints, enough innuendo.


Here's the deal: the DC Vertigo book The Losers, as written by Andy Diggle and illustrated by Jock, is an absolutely fantastic title that sells abysmal numbers, even for a Vertigo title. Not enough people read the book, and if it were to fall under the cancellation knife, I would become so distraught that I'd be forced to massacre entire tax brackets.

And we can't have that. Hence, THE GREAT LOSERS GIVEAWAY is born.

Here's the deal: I, as well as Shane, Johnny, and Kevin, would very much like to get more people into this fantastic book. But screaming about it on our blogs is not going to be enough, is it? So the next step is logical: GIVE THE BOOK AWAY FOR FREE.

Which we'll be doing. Except just giving the books away is no fun, is it? No fun for the readers at home (you). So we've made a little contest of it.


Between now and 12AM CST, Saturday, April 10th, I want YOU (the reader at home) to send in a brief but colorful blurb telling me why YOU are the biggest loser in the universe. It shouldn't be hard. You read comic books and blogs. You're already halfway there, buddy.

That's right. I want you to humiliate yourself for our sick pleasure. You heard me. Give me anecdotes, give me general summaries of the worthlessness of your existence, give me graphic descriptions of that time your mother-in-law walked in on you shaving the dog, nude. (You're nude, not the dog.) Get as creative as you like, but DON'T JUST MAKE SHIT UP -- we have very potent bullshit detectors/anti-personnel mines. And we know you value your ability to walk upright.

But you won't be doing this for nothing, oh no. There will be prizes. Because this is THE GREAT LOSERS GIVEAWAY, remember? And just what are those prizes, you wonder?

Well, I'm glad you asked.

FIRST PRIZE receives a copy of The Losers: Ante Up, the TPB collecting the first six issues, AS WELL AS The Losers #7, #8, #9, and #10, all lovingly bagged and boarded. That's right. THE ENTIRE RUN OF THE LOSERS UP TO THE PRESENT DATE. Hey, you think you're excited? FEEL THESE NIPPLES!

SECOND AND THIRD PRIZE is a copy of The Losers: Ante Up, so you can get yourself a taste of what this fantabulous title has to offer, and (if you're sane) wander on over to your favorite piece of Direct Market to pick up the rest of the titles. That would be super.

FOURTH PRIZE will recieve the first two issues of another underappreciated gem, DC's The Monolith. That particular title is only two issues in, which, for those of you doing the math, means you'll be brought right up to date JUST FOR TELLING ME WHAT A LOSER YOU ARE! They're even bagged and boarded. Excuse me while I change my pants.

FIFTH PRIZE will receive the first two issues of yet another underappreciated title, Image's Sword of Dracula. That one's only three issues in, so you'd be damn near up to speed, wouldn't you? And GUESS WHAT! These are also bagged and boarded. Wow. Do I rock or what?

There's only THREE RULES for this contest, kiddies:

1) Losers virgins only, please. The idea of this giveaway is to snare NEW fans, whose lily-white genitalia have not yet experienced the pleasure.

2) Only one entry per person. Keep in the spirit of giving here, folks. Don't make me start breakin' kneecaps.

3) Be funny. If you win, your shit's going to be posted, so that the world may laugh at you. Make it worth our while.

So there you have it. DROP ME AN E-MAIL (link in the upper left corner, and be sure to put "LOSERS" somewhere in the subject line) and tell me why you are the biggest loser in the universe, and you may snag yourself some steamy, throbbing prizes.

You have your orders. MOVE, soldier!

(Once more, many thanks to Shane, Johnny, and Kevin. Give them some love, people. They're saints in sinner's clothing.)

You're more than welcome. Anything to #1, get sales up on that great comic, and #2, convert the infidel to our holy cause. Here's the link to click to go to Ken's site and enter.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us


What I bought and what I thought, week of March 31

Let's see. When last we were graced with an issue of this perpetually tardy title, I was annoyed at the jingoistic, boorish Captain America and appalled at the horrible treatment of Bruce Banner. And I'm pleased to report that none of this troubled me at all in this appropriately apocalyptic finale to the first "volume" of The Ultimates. As always, that would-be Straw That Stirs The Drink Mark Millar has crafted a terse, frequently amusing (especially the almost Stooge-ish Hulk interludes), and dramatically tight script which is, of course, derivative of many previous stories from many previous writers but taken on its own terms very exciting and satisfying. Kinda like in a "Beatles covering Chuck Berry and Larry Williams" way. There's a saying in creative circles that creativity is the art of disguising your sources, and in that sense Millar is a past master. Don't want to de-emphasize the Hitch and Neary team's excellent, expansive art, which definitely helps Millar get his pastiches across effectively. Bring on Vol.2, coming soon most likely in 2006, and since I'm not particularly geared to expect instant gratification, that's all right with me. A

The plot thickens, as the saying goes, as Courtney goes back to the Fairie world in order to get the kid who got changed into a "night thing" changed back, and foolishly allows his friends to come along...and you just know that it's not going to go smoothly. I can nit-pick- it seems like Courtney gets around a little too easily in the Kingdom, and again, she never should have allowed the others to go along...but none of that's important, since this is still clever and engaging fantasy of the highest order, and Naifeh the artist is in perfect sync with Naifeh the writer. Striking cover, too, even though Oberon looks like he's wishing he hadn't had that extra slice of pepperoni pizza... A-

The latest issue of yet another candidate for "best title you're probably not reading" expands the plot but doesn't really move it forward much, unless your primary interest is in their secretary slash tech person. I have a feeling that this particular arc will read better collected, and hopefully DC will see fit to release it that way. A-

Well, I guess we got lucky this time because I was really worried that having Ultimates and this come out on the same day might cause rifts in the spac-time continuum, earthquakes, floods, fire, real Old Testament-type wrath of God type stuff, dogs and cats...sleeping together, and all that. Anyway, judging by the title, I thought we might be in for some sort of Silver Age DC Sci-Fi tribute but that isn't the case. Instead, Warren Ellis channels 2001, among other things, and throws in some imaginative touches of his own- creating a story that's full of mood and cleverness, but unfortunately not much actually happens. That comes next issue. And as always, impeccably drawn by John Cassady, certainly one of the most elegant, style-wise, artists out there right now. Now if only the big revelation at the end didn't remind me of Bender in the Futurama episode "Godfellas". A-

Speaking of Warren E, here's his old Hellstorm and Druid compadre Leonardo Manco doing the guest artist honors on Mike Carey's "morning after" story. I wish I could say Manco was in fine form here, but I can't; his work is nowhere near as adventurous and unrestrained as it was back in the day when I was nuts about it, and his figure drawings are downright poor in places. Still, it's a good, if a tad grisly, opening chapter. Back when Ellis and Manco were killing me on Hellstorm, I used to wish that someday they could take a crack at John Constantine...another dream dies hard. B

Cutesy-poo story about microscopic "bugs" loose on Legion World, distinguished chiefly by the return of the master of the nine-panel page, Keith Giffen, on pencils and Al Milgrom, of all people, on inks. Given the lame duck status of writers Abnett and Lanning and the complete story inertia that's been going on for several months, I have to ask myself why people are still buying this comic- and more importantly, why am I still buying this comic? C+

Hoo boy. I can't decide whether writer Kurt Busiek, who is capable of better things (I seem to recall), is being cynical in a "I'll rewrite Justice League of America vol. 1, issues 46 & 47, (even to the point of having the Spectre physically seperate the two colliding worlds) and none of the fanboys buying this crap will notice, plus I'll pick up a nice paycheck" sense or if he's sincerely trying to write some sort of old school multi-issue multi-character throwdown, and is unconsciously channeling the comics he read as a youngster, just not as successfully. Either way, this is lazy, derivative hackwork, dialogued terribly (everyone is constantly asking each other questions so the reader can presumably identify characters they already know), full of tiresome expository dialogue and just plain old unnecessarily complicated. Gotta give George Perez a gold star or something for taking this task on, but he has not helped matters by cramming every tiny panel full of Kirby dots, flying debris, rays arcing everywhere, closeups of characters with mouths agape, distance shots of hundreds of obscure and not so obscure characters leaping, swinging, flying, punching, shouting, and so on over and over and over and...whew. Perez is still a fine illustrator, and his work here is as good as it was back in the 80s when he really did stand above most of the field, but let's face it. This whole series has been a tiresome, enervating, convoluted exercise in cosmic gobbeldygook and nostalgia for nostalgia's sake. Don't know what's worse- that this sort of thing is embraced by comics readers that either don't or should have known better, or that I am out $24 bucks for this shite myself. I have no excuse. Do you? D

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Hello again! I know, I promised comics reviews, and the weekend's not over yet, but it's gonna be tomorrow sometime. Between an extremely busy two days at the Snooze, my sister-in-law's wedding rehearsal last night and subsequent wedding today, and other distractions, I've had precious little time for composing my thoughts, let alone channeling through my fingers and into your head.

I wanted to note, however, that another reason I'm a bit behind in my personal journalistics is that I've been devouring the care package I received from Mr. Larry Young , he of AiT/Planetlar renown. He sent me a heapin' helping of the offerings from his publishing venture, and I am in the process of making my way through them. My impression so far? There's some extremely good stuff in them thar funnybooks. Edgy, thought-provoking stuff. I don't know why I haven't been moved to sample any of the offerings from this publisher before, but I'll tell you now that will change. I am eternally grateful...but I reserve the right to slam any books I don't like.

On to other topics- as you can probably infer, I haven't had the opportunity to go see Hellboy the movie yet either. Early reviews range from confused to unimpressed, and now I'm a little trepiditious about rushing out to see it. I was kinda afraid this would happen- Del Toro and Mignola said all the right stuff, but it's obvious there's been a significant amount of studio interference, as there always is, because (as I've said many times before) The suits and real decision makers have no respect for the source material. None. And Del Toro can make all the "Hellcar" jokes he wants, but his (and Mignola's) vision has apparently been compromised, and all I can do, I suppose, is hope for the best when I do see it.

Thursday night's Wonderfalls was better, with a clever premise and a not-too-credibility-stretching resolution...but still suffers from having its characters behave in ways that the writers apparently think is cute and interesting to the targeted demographic, and couldn't care less about how actual people would behave in those situations. Ratings haven't been spectacular, so it may not matter much longer. I just hope XTC puts out that theme song on an album someday.

That's all I got time for right now. Tomorrow, if the fates allow, comics reviews, including that gilded turd titled JLA/Avengers.