Friday, October 17, 2008

How about Potpourri for $200, Alex?

Tom's Five for Friday was an interesting one, as it so often is; the official title was "Name Five Beautiful Comics Characters And The Artist That Depicts Them That Way, Including At Least One Of Each Gender, In The Exact Format: Artist's Character." If I take that at its face meaning, by "artist's character" he meant a character created by (at least visually) by the artist, and because I was rushing to get it in on deadline my answers, I suppose, fudged a bit- Doug Mahnke didn't create Wonder Woman, nor did Igor Kordey (had a hard time choosing between his version and actual creator, or at least first artist J.G. Jones') create the Yelena Belova Black Widow- but Tom put 'em up anyway so I guess it's cool. Be that as it may, there were several other characters that I considered (and even fit the exact criteria) but could only name five- so I thought I'd post 'em here. And they are:

Khari Evans' Misty Knight;

Jaime Hernandez' Maggie Chascarrillo (Love and Rockets), especially mid-90's style. Nothing against Hopey, heaven knows, but Maggie's closer to my temperament, I think. She looks a little careworn these days, which is a shame but that's the way it goes sometimes. I look that way too.

J.H. Williams III's Promethea and, of course, Chase.

P. Craig Russell's Volcana Ash (Amazing Adventures/War of the Worlds feat. Killraven; I also really liked his Mint Julep. Yeah, freaky names I know.);

Eisner's Plaster of Paris (The Toast of Montmarte! I can't find any page scans of her- all I can find is frigging pics of Paz Vega from Miller's movie. I'll keep looking);

Paul Pope's Kim from 100% (Daisy's pal, she of the teakettle symphony scene, as well as the great scene in issue one in which she gets the willies when a car approaches her from behind);

Jason Armstrong's Kinetix from Legion of Super Heroes (See above; even though a group of fine artists such as Jeff Moy, Lee Moder, and Alan Davis has drawn her, I liked this guy's version best- even though he only drew one or two issues);

Chris Sprouse's Andromeda from Legionnaires;

Adam Hughes', well, just about any character! Of course, I can't think of any he's actually created, so take that for what it's worth.

Adam Warren's Dirty Pair, especially the later ones, by which time he had refined his style to be less slavishly imitative of manga.

Bob Oksner and Wallace Wood's Angel O'Day;

Howard Chaykin's Medea Blitz from American: Flagg! and Shebaba O'Neil (left) from the Ironwolf series;

Mike Kaluta's Madame Xanadu (of course, i also like his lithe versions of the Shadow's Margo Lane and Starstruck's Erotica Ann);

Becky Cloonan's Cyndi from American Virgin;

And a host of others that don't come to mind immediately.

In other things that have popped up here and there lately, in the wonderful world of comics and its attendant blogosphere:

I see where the cultishly popular but sales-challenged Manhunter has once again been canceled with issue #38. That's too bad; it was an entertaining series with a well-rounded lead character, and enough time had gone by to allow writer Mark Andreyko to develop a clutch of interesting subplots and supporting characters, most notably (to me, anyway) Cameron Chase, which led me to pick up the book to begin with. I'm also seeing a lot of the usual wailing and gnashing of teeth among the cult at the news, and that's to be expected, plus I sympathize, really I do. I am and remain a faithful buyer and reader of the title; I like the often flinty and gruff Kate Spencer character, and Andreyko hasn't mishandled Chase all that badly, pregnancy aside. Oops, spoiler, sorry. Anyway, now I'm reading about another email campaign to save the book and so on and so forth and...people. Let it go. It had a 38 issue run, far more than a lot of titles of its ilk get. Chase? She only got 8, 9 if you count that 1,000,000 issue. Major Bummer? 15. Many, many good comics, better that Manhunter even got a lot less. As I said when I reviewed the first issue of this latest relaunch, this is never going to be anything more than a fringe title at best, admired and supported by a few rather than a majority...and these days, books that sell in the tens of thousands or less are just killing trees as far as DC is concerned. There was nothing new or different about this relaunch, or the second one for that matter, and I'm sure DC thought word of mouth might improve the numbers- but it didn't. I don't blame them for killing it, really, even though I will miss the book. I think we all need to move on. Perhaps go worry about Blue Beetle now.

Also, a tempest in a teapot popped up last week when Noah Berlatsky posted a negative review of the first trade collection of 100 Bullets, which fostered a hubbub in the comments section (and I was one of the initial shit-stirrers, it seems) that eventually spread, wildfire-like, onto message boards and Blog@Newsarama, even involving pros like Mark Waid, before eventually subsiding. Heck, it may be going strong still, I stopped paying attention not long after the first post, although I have skimmed subsequent posts and comments and have been seeing updates at the Beat. A small part of the outcry was caused by a mistake that I brought to Noah's attention (which I'm sure someone would have called him out on if I hadn't)- he panned a cover illustration that he credited to interior artist Ed Risso, but was actually done by longtime 100B cover guy Dave Johnson. That's fine, we all make mistakes and I know I've made more than my share. It's also fine that he didn't care for that first trade, even though I think he was premature in dismissing the entire series out of hand after that one book; kinda like giving up on Citizen Kane after his parents give him up for adoption. Heck, I have been critical of Azzarello's magnum opus myself; I think it's mutated into something that's perhaps a bit too elaborate for the reader's good, at least in terms of clarity and comprehension, even though I'm willing to hold out hope that he will bring it home in fine fashion at the end. But the problem is that he took a stance which came across to me like he didn't care, that it wasn't important that he didn't have his facts straight, and couldn't be bothered to do a little research to get it right. That's kinda troubling to me, especially since this guy gets published in the Comics Journal, which is supposed to be pretty much the apex of sequential storytelling criticism and commentary. Sure, life is short and there's a lot of stuff out there to keep up with, and I'm sure that he feels like he has more important things to do than make sure he knows what he's popping off about- but I think there's something to be said for plain old intellectual curiosity, the desire and/or urge to know more about something which has drawn one's attention, and I'd expect that from someone who apparently is held in high enough regard to write for the Journal. Oh well. When all is said and done, it's his blog, he can write what he wants, and in the end it's only to himself that he's accountable.

Also couldn't help but be annoyed at Rich Johnston, in his latest Lying in the Gutters column- he gives us a paragraph (headed "Blind Items") full of naughty gossip about some individuals in the comics biz, but by not naming names or at least making it possible for us to guess who these people are, he becomes the equivalent of one of those people, you know the ones, who come up to you and tell you that they know an incredible secret that would blow your mind if you knew it, then won't tell you what it is. It's not that I have a burning desire to know this, mind you- in fact, I could be quite content not knowing since my life is filled with enough unpleasantness and boorish behavior as it is. But if you're not gonna tell all, then I have to wonder what the point of putting that stuff out there is, anyway. Is it solely to remind everyone that he is an insider, and privy to knowledge that we mere mortals aren't meant to know? Are we supposed to be impressed, to think he's so cool? Was he having a little insecurity attack there, and decided to get a little ego-boo? Aah, who knows. Just struck me as curious, that's all. And it's not like he's the only "connected" blogger that does this sort of thing, for that matter.

Hm, let's see...I'd like to bring this to a close on a positive note. Ah, here. Looking at the Diamond shipping list for Wednesday, I see where DC is rereleasing Paul Pope's Heavy Liquid in a new hardcover edition. I bought a trade collection a couple of years ago, read it, and enjoyed it like I do most of Pope's work (especially in this vein)...but curiously had nothing really to say about it at the time, so it remains unreviewed by yours truly to this day. Anazingly enough, the world has continued to turn despite this, so that's good. Anyway, I liked it and I think you'd like it too if you have the cash. Also, Trevor Von Eeden's long-awaited Jack Johnson bio is now appearing online at; it's looking very good so far- he's beginning to flex some long-unused storytelling muscles, and when he gets his speed up I think it will be amazing. Finally, I had a large time reading this, which got put up yesterday at scans_daily- it's a Sub-Mariner story from Tales to Astonish, that Gene Colan started but couldn't finish and Jack Kirby (whatta pinch-hitter) had to complete, and it's pretty much a knock-down drag-out brawl from start to end between Subby and Iron Man, that just sings despite Roy Thomas' typically hamfisted dialogue. You should check it out, unless you just don't like fun.

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