Saturday, June 28, 2008

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RIP Michael Turner, who passed away last night at age 37.

I'm not going to sit here and lie to you and tell you that I've been a fan of his work; generally, I've always found it the complete opposite of everything that I hold dear when it comes to sequential graphics. Somewhere in my collection I have the first couple of issues of his Fathom, but two issues was as far as I could go. That said, he seemed to be a dependable craftsman and enthusiastic entrepreneur, and seemed to be very well liked in the comics community in general- and who's to say his best work wasn't ahead of him? Plus, he did a hell of a lot more with his talent that I ever did, so what I think means nothing.

37 is too damn young to die, I do know that. So rest easy, Mr. Turner, and know that many have marked your passing with sadness.

Friday, June 27, 2008


Tonight's exercise in mayhem is from ANGEL AND THE APE #4, cover dated June of 1969. Here, Sam Simeon is invited to appear on a Dick Cavett-type talk show, and the usual communication problem ensures the breaking loose of Hell.

Writer unknown (I really think Arnold Drake had moved on by 1969, but I may be mistaken); art by the late great Bob Oksner, inked by Wally Wood.


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

This panel from (I think) Brave and the Bold #99, made me laugh for obvious reasons. At first, I thought it came from scans_daily, but not so, as RAB was quick to inform me- actually, it came from Every Day is Like Wednesday. The ol' memory, she ain't what she useta be.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

You may have noticed (at least I hope you've noticed) that I haven't had any comics reviews at all up here for two weeks now. The reason for that is simple: I haven't received any new comics! My DCBS shipment, which was shipped to me via DHL on the 10th of June, was lost in transit and it has been a protracted and somewhat annoying endeavor to get it straightened out. In fact, as of this writing it still has yet to be straightened out to my satisfaction, and I'm supposed to be getting a NEW shipment this Friday!

When Monday the 16th rolled around, and I still had no comics, and also after checking the DHL website tracking page (which showed my box was somewhere at the Memphis, TN hub), I called DHL and asked them to look for it. They agreed to, and said they'd call me by noon on Wednesday to inform me of what they found. Wednesday comes, no call. So, I call them back, talk to a different person, and get the same assurance. Finally, on Thursday, I get a callback on the first call I made, saying that yes indeed it certainly seems like they have lost my shipment, and I should call DCBS and notify them. They'll fill out a Loss/Damage Claim Form, and send me a new shipment; they even sent me a file to send in case they didn't have one. Groovy, said I. So I notify DCBS, and send along the file. Here's where the annoying part comes in. Even though I told them that I had already taken steps to locate the package, and was told, BY DHL, that it was indeed missing, they wouldn't or couldn't take my word for that and had to contact DHL themselves. This was on Wednesday the 18th. I emailed back, saying that I had already taken these steps, and I didn't want this to drag on for days more. Then I heard nothing until I emailed them on Friday, asking for an update. They replied

"We have not yet heard one way or the other. Our rep told us that they are looking for it now and if it does not turn up by Monday a loss claim on the package and we will pull together a replacement for you."

Monday comes and goes, and no word. I emailed today and as of this writing haven't heard anything. If they had only taken my word for it at first, and noticed that I sent a document FROM DHL to them, this would have been resolved by now, I'm sure!

Anyway, what I'm hoping is that they will put my order for the week of the 13th in with the new shipment (of which I have yet to receive confirmation that it has indeed shipped, naturally, but sometimes that happens with them), which seems to be ready to send according to the DCBS website.

So, short story long, I don't know if I'm gonna get ANY comics this month for sure...but if I do they should be these:

100 BULLETS #92

You remember these, I'm sure from my previous post on the


Some interesting stuff in that bunch, especially the Umbrella Academy trade, of which I've heard naught but good word-of-mouth.

This whole thing has me kinda put out with DCBS, with whom I've only really had one other incident (that was partly my fault). Someone recently made me aware of Heroes Corner's site...they offer substantial discounts, ship via FedEx, and best of all offer free bags and boards, as well as free shipping over $75, powerful incentives all. I've been pretty faithful to DCBS, after ending my longtime relationship with my Bowling Green comics shop...but HC is flirting hard with me and my admittedly weak nature is strongly tempted. We will see!

ETA: Got an email later this afternoon from DCBS, and they were indeed sufficiently satisfied that I wasn't lying or trying to scam them for more comics or something, so they will box my replacement shipment together with my new one, which I should be getting this weekend- if fortune smiles, and DHL does their job.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The 2008 Harvey Awards nominations were announced earlier last week. Not-so-fashionably late for the party as always, I thought I'd post 'em here with a little commentary after each, as if I was a real pundit or something. Shall we?

* Ed Brubaker, Captain America, Marvel Comics
* Jeff Kinney, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Amulet Books
* Grant Morrison, All Star Superman, DC Comics
* William Van Horn, Walt Disney's Comics and Stories, Gemstone
* Brian K. Vaughan, Y: The Last Man, Vertigo/DC Comics

It's hard to disagree with the names on this list; while I don't read Brubaker's Cap I did read his Immortal Iron Fist with Matt Fraction and Daredevil, not to mention Criminal, which has to be at least as good as the title he is nominated for. I've not read Diary or the Disney collection, and I've never really understood the appeal of Vaughan's writing (Dr. Strange: The Oath notwithstanding, and that should have been nominated before Y). Morrison is Morrison, of course, but to me All-Star Superman was inconsistent in 2007. I'm thinking Jason Aaron should be on this list for Scalped, as well as Andy Diggle. I'm sure a lot of Casanova fans are wondering where the aforementioned Fraction's name is. Anyways, I'd give it to Brubaker, based on his body of work and not necessarily his Cap, which I'm sure is quite good but doesn't interest me in the slightest.

* Gabriel Ba, Umbrella Academy, Dark Horse Comics
* John Cassaday, Astonishing X-Men, Marvel Comics
* Guy Davis, BPRD, Dark Horse Comics
* Frank Quitely, All Star Superman, DC Comics
* William Van Horn, Walt Disney's Comics and Stories, Gemstone

Who is this Van Horn fella, and why is he being so acclaimed for doing what I'm sure is just a patch on Barks, Rosa, and those who have come before? I mean, I realize I'm saying this sight unseen, and for all I know I would be blown away by the scope and complexity of his take on the Ducks...but I seriously doubt that Disney is going to allow much in the way of groundbreaking interpretation. So what the hell? Assuming DCBS and DHL don't lose another of my comics shipments, I'll soon be reading Umbrella Academy, so I can see what Ba's been up to. As with Brubaker, I know it's of high quality regardless. Anyway, these are worthy artists all, and while if it was up to me I'd give it to Guy Davis, I'll bet it goes to Cassaday or Quitely, probably the latter.

* Darwyn Cooke, The Spirit, DC Comics
* Matt Kindt, Super Spy, Top Shelf
* Jeff Kinney, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Amulet Books
* Bryan Lee O'Malley, Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together, Oni Press
* Vasilis Lolos, Last Call, Oni Press
* William Van Horn, Walt Disney's Comics and Stories, Gemstone

Oh, so cartoonists aren't artists? And there's that Van Horn guy again! Kindt is great but his style works against him more often as not when it comes to storytelling, and I haven't seen Wimpy Kid. I think Lolos is a dark horse- Last Call was quite evocative- but this will probably be between Cooke, who shouldn't win because his 2007 Spirit issues were a muddle and the art didn't save them, and O'Malley, who is riding high right now. I'm thinking Mr. O'Malley.

* The Arrival, Scholastic Books
* Donald Duck: The Case of the Missing Mummy, Gemstone
* Exit Wounds, Drawn & Quarterly
* Laika, First Second
* Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together, Oni Press

Sadly, the only one of these nominees I've read is Gets It Together, so I'm hardly qualified to pick one here. I know that Exit Wounds was on all the cool critics' lists, and I've seen a lot of type devoted to Laika and The Arrival as well. The Duck book? I think it's mandatory for it to be nominated in every category, it or its creator. Publishers or interested parties, feel free to send me copies of the others so I can opine upon them here in this mostly public forum.

* The Annotated Northwest Passage, Oni Press
* Antiques, Volume 1, Gemstone
* Captain America Omnibus, Volume 1, Marvel Comics
* Damned, Volume 1, Oni Press
* Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born, Marvel Comics

I actually own approximately none of these collections, but I can unequivocally state my high regard and extreme admiration for both Northwest Passage and The Damned V1.

* Complete Peanuts, Fantagraphics Books
* Complete Terry and the Pirates, IDW
* EC Archives, Gemstone
* Popeye, Fantagraphics Books
* Walt and Skeezix, Drawn & Quarterly

Wait- where's the Gemstone selection? Thanks to the sainted Mrs. B, I do own the first two Peanuts collections, but that was some time ago. I'm sure, knowing what I know about all of these collected strips and comics, that you can't go wrong with any of them. If I had a vote, I'd be tempted to go with the Popeye collection, for entertainment value if nothing else. Again, publishers, feel free to send me any of these- as we all know, it hasn't truly been a success until Johnny Bacardi reviews it! (snort snort)

* Eduardo Risso's Tales of Terror, Dynamite Entertainment
* Exit Wounds, Drawn & Quarterly
* Manga Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet, Abrams
* Moomin, Volume 2, Drawn & Quarterly
* Witchblade Manga, Top Cow/Image

Ah, here's Comics Blogospehereiverse darling Moomin, its presumed delights still unsampled by yours truly. Yep, don't own any of these either. Why am I doing this again? I do know that Risso is aces, and again, everybody but me has read Exit Wounds and cited it on their "best of" lists.

* Chris Eliopoulos, Franklin Richards series, Marvel Comics
* Nicholas Gurewitch, Perry Bible Fellowship
* Jeff Kinney, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Amulet Books
* Bryan Lee O'Malley, Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together, Oni Press
* William Van Horn, Walt Disney's Comics and Stories, Gemstone

As opposed to the usual award for humor, eh? Anyway, Gurewitch is gonna be hard to beat, even by O'Malley. The faux-Watterson stylings of Eliopoulous on Franklin Richards has tempted me once in a great while, but no soap, and it's great to see order restored to the Harveyverse with another Van Horn nomination.

* Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Jeff Kinney
* EZ Street, Robert Tinnell and Mark Wheatley
* Penny Arcade, Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik
* Perry Bible Fellowship, Nicholas Gurewitch
* Surreal Adventures of Edgar Allan Poo, Dwight L. Macpherson, Thomas Boatwright and Thomas Mauer

Is there a best Off-line comic? Anyway, I'd bet on Gurewitch here, but never underestimate the Penny Arcade guys. Conspicuous by their absences: Girls With Slingshots, Wonderella, Brat-Halla, Lackadaisy Cats, Scary-Go-Round, Sinfest, Achewood, and Overcompensating.

* The Annotated Northwest Passage, Scott Chantler, Oni Press
* Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Jeff Kinney, Amulet Books
* EC Archives, Various, edited by John Clark, Gemstone
* Postcards: True Stories That Never Happened, edited by Jason Rodriguez, Villard
* Super Spy, Matt Kindt, Top Shelf

I suppose this is a package design category; I own Super Spy, and have laid eyes on that Northwest Passage collection although I have yet to be able to afford to buy, so I guess I'll pass on passing judgment here.

* Alice in Sunderland, Dark Horse Comics
* All Star Superman #8, DC Comics
* Captain America #25, Marvel Comics
* Donald Duck: The Case of the Missing Mummy, Gemstone
* I Killed Adolf Hitler, Fantagraphics Books
* Immortal Iron Fist #7, Marvel Comics
* Stephen Colbert's Tek Jansen #1, Oni Press

I guess this is further proof of how far out of step I am with the current comics cognoscenti; I was underwhelmed by All-Star Superman #8, as well as Iron Fist #7. I flat-out didn't like Tek Jansen, although the art was fine. I've seen Sunderland discussed favorably here and there, as well as the Hitler book. The avalanche of Duck nominations continues, closely followed by noms for Cap.

* Blah Blah Blog, Tom Brevoort
* The Comics Journal, edited by Gary Groth and Michael Dean Fantagraphics Books
* Meanwhile…Comics!, John, Jason and Scott
* The Naked Artist: Comic Book Legends, Bryan Talbot and Hunt Emerson, Moonstone Books
* Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide, edited by J.C. Vaughn, Gemstone
* Reading Comics: How Graphic Albums Work and What They Mean, Douglas Wolk, Da Capo Press

I defy you to see that nom for the Overprice Street Guide and not snort in derision, although I do seem to recall (although it's been perhaps a decade since I've picked one up) that there are a fair amount of historical articles in every edition. Brevoort's blog is often interesting, although I must confess that I don't always click through to read it when it pops up on my Google Reader. The Journal keeps on keeping on, always readable I'm sure but never affordable for one of such meager means as I (and no, it's not because every time Deppey refuses to link to my reviews baby Jesus- well, actually baby Johnny B- cries). I am absolutely unfamiliar with the other two. No Duck or Cap noms!

* John Cassaday, Astonishing X-Men, Marvel Comics
* Marko Djurdjevic, Daredevil, Marvel Comics
* James Jean, Fables, Vertigo/DC Comics
* Mike Mignola, Hellboy, Dark Horse Comics
* William Van Horn, Walt Disney's Comics and Stories, Gemstone

All outstanding artists, although in Van Horn's case I'll just take their word he belongs; regardless, it's hard to beat Jean, who should just get an honorary award and be retired. Maybe they could name it the James Jean Best Cover Artist Award.

* Chris Eliopoulos, Daredevil, Marvel Comics
* Jared K. Fletcher, The Spirit, DC Comics
* Willie Schubert, Walt Disney's Comics and Stories, Gemstone
* Douglas E. Sherwood, Local, Oni Books
* Chris Ware, Acme Novelty Library, Acme Novelty

I'm curious- do all of these letterers hand letter, or do they just set type in InDesign or Photoshop (hope not- typesetting in PS is of the devil)? If not, doesn't that tarnish this award just a little? All of these fellows, at least the ones whose books I read, are excellent I suppose. Readable, anyway, and isn't that the true test of a letterer? Another Duck nom!

* Susan Daigle-Leach, Uncle Scrooge, Gemstone
* Jamie Grant, All Star Superman, DC Comics
* Matt Hollingsworth, Daredevil, Marvel Comics
* Matt Kindt, Super Spy, Top Shelf
* Laura Martin, Thor, Marvel Comics

God, did Gemstone underwrite these awards? Anyway, of the non-Duck books I've read here, the only one in which the colors strike me as memorable is not the muddy imitation-Loughridge Vertigo-lite pallete of Hollingsworth or the sepia tones of Kindt, but Grant, who does more than color, unless I'm mistaken. Don't buy Thor, so I can't say for sure about Martin, who doesn't color any books that I buy, I don't think.

* Stefano Gaudiano, Daredevil, Marvel Comics
* Jeff Kinney, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Amulet Books
* Steve Leialoha, Fables, DC Comics
* Mark Morales, Thor, Marvel Comics
* Kevin Nowlan, Witchblade, Top Cow/Image

This list seems incomplete for some reason; if I thought hard about it I could probably name five that probably belong here instead of the workmanlike Leialoha, who is a far better illustrator (i.e., penciller, colorist, inker, on his own work) than he is tracing Buckingham's adequate pencils on Fables; Gaudiano, who is solid but unspectacular in his sloppy renderings over Mike Lark's pencils, and Nowlan, who's also thought of even more of a total illustrator, mostly on covers. I don't know Morales' work, and I've been remiss in noting how Kinney keeps popping up in many of these categories...someone must really have been impressed with Diary of a Wimpy Kid, probably those who think of themselves as former wimpy kids themselves. After having taken a look at the online strip, all I can say is Mike Esposito, Tom Palmer, Joe Sinnott, even good old Vince Colletta must be spinning in their graves or beds, whichever is applicable.

* Doonesbury, Garry Trudeau, Universal Press Syndicate
* Get Fuzzy, Darby Conley, United Feature Syndicate
* The K Chronicles, Keith Knight, Self-Syndicated
* The Mighty Motor-Sapiens, Mark Wheatley, Daniel Krall, Robert Tinnell, MJ Butler, Craig Taillerfer, Matthew Plog, and Jerry Carr, Self-Syndicated
* Mutts, Patrick McDonnell, King Features Syndicate

I've got a book somewhere of collected K Chronicles strips, I believe, the Lousville Courier-Journal carries Doonesbury, and the Bowling Green Daily News carries Fuzzy, and that's all I've seen of this bunch, although I think I've seen, and was unimpressed by, Mutts. Syndicated strips are mostly a dire bunch, for sure, as any glance at the Comics Curmudgeon site will prove...but is this the best they could come up with? Fuzzy is rarely as clever as it strives to be, and I was unimpressed by K, so I guess that leaves Trudeau's perennial, which at least has been on a minor uptick when it's not been on hiatus.

* All Star Superman, DC Comics
* Captain America, Marvel Comics
* Damned, Oni Press
* Daredevil, Marvel Comics
* Umbrella Academy, Dark Horse Comics
* Uncle Scrooge, Gemstone Comics

Same old same old here. Haven't read Cap or the last two, although like I said earlier I do have the Umbrella Academy trade coming, assuming DHL doesn't lose my box again. ASS was inconsistent, Daredevil is a well-executed slog...that leaves the outstanding Damned, which successfully mixes the crime and supernatural genres and entertained me thoroughly. I'm trying to get it in trades, so I haven't read the follow-up yet.

* Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Amulet Books
* The Order, Marvel Comics
* Resurrection, Oni Press
* Thor, Marvel Comics
* Umbrella Academy, Dark Horse Comics

I'll probably spend some time going back through the Diary website, to read the pages and see what the fuss is about. The only one of these I've read was Resurrection, which I thought was just awful.

* Jeff Kinney, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Amulet Books
* Jeff Lemire, Essex County, Top Shelf
* Vasilis Lolos, Last Call, Oni Press
* Robbi Rodriguez, Maintenance, Oni Press
* Christian Slade, Korgi #1: Sprouting Wings, Top Shelf

Rodriguez is a sleeper, I enjoyed Maintenance. Slade is an excellent illustrator working on what seemed to me to be a pointless book. I liked Lemire's GN, but not necessarily because if its somewhat crude art. I think I'd give the nod to Lolos here; Last Call had mood and atmosphere in spades and the art made it a lot more intriguing than its slightly used premise.

* Flight Volume 4, edited by Kazu Kibuishi, Ballantine Books
* Mome Volume 8, edited by Gary Groth and Eric Reynolds, Fantagraphics Books
* Popgun Volume 1, edited by Joe Keatinge and Mark Andrew Smith, Image Books
* Postcards: True Stories That Never Happened, edited by Jason Rodriquez, Villard
* Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories, edited by John Clark, Gemstone

I got the first two Flight collections, but the combination of price point and lack of Vera Brosgol and Jen Wang art persuaded me to pass on the last two. Someday, when I hit the lottery, I'll buy every issue of Mome, Moomin, and Kramer's Ergot that I've passed up in my apparent ignorance and Philistinism. Until then, I guess I'll just observe that every other one of my comics criticism peers holds them in high regard, and be content in that knowledge. Guess what I'm trying to say in my roundabout way is that I haven't experienced the joys and delights of any of these nominees, unworthy infidel that I am.

And that, friends, concludes this little piece of comics blogging. Maybe I'll do more sooner rather than later!

Friday, June 20, 2008


Tonight's Friday night fist fight is from CREEPY #7, from a story titled "Hot Spell"- a little "fiery tale of a warlock's curse" as presented by the late greats Archie Goodwin and Reed Crandall. In the prologue, a group of villagers burns a warlock at the stake, he of course curses the village. Flash forward to modern times, and the village still worries...and a couple of deaths by fire leads them to conclude that a new resident, an artist, is responsible for reviving the spell. So when he unwittingly comes to town to buy groceries, he gets less than a warm, no pun intended, reception. But fortunately the artist is as good at punching as he is at painting, and the scene above ensues. As always, click to see biggerer.

Oh, and don't was so often the case with Goodwin's Warren stories from this period, justice of a kind is enacted by story's end.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I would be remiss if I didn't interrupt the deafening silence around here and let the day expire without passing on a Bacardi Show Birthday Greeting to the old master chef himself, SIR JAMES PAUL McCARTNEY, looking every bit his 66 years these days...and that's all right.

Here's my now three-year-old list of favorite McCartney and Wings tracks. I don't think I'd add anything from albums released since, although I did like "Fine Line" from Chaos and Creation and "Dance Tonight" from Memory Almost Full. In fact, I thought the latter was a pleasantly surprising, strong collection of songs.

You'd think that people would have had enough of Paul McCartney; I look around me and I see it isn't so. Oh no. (I never get tired of that joke. "We KNOW", I hear you all say.)

Picture ganked from the outstanding BEATLE PHOTO BLOG, your source for unique, interesting Fabs snaps and fart jokes.

Friday, June 13, 2008


Tonight's Frigg's Day Evening Altercation comes from Atlas Comics' SCORPION #1, which hit the spinner racks sometime in early 1975. This early Howard Chaykin creation shows that not only could Moro Frost (Scorpion's real name) lay down a beatdown, but his Girl Friday Ruby could kick badguy bootay quite capably as well. The Alex Toth influence shines through in these pages, I do believe. As always, click to see these grayscaled pages mo' bigger.

I wish Chaykin could see his way clear to once more doing some 30's pulp-style graphic novels, based on characters like the Scorpion, and his later revamp Dominic Fortune...or dare I say even more Times Squared. Guess nobody's interested, at least no one with money. Pity.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Thanks to a Twitter post by B. Clay Moore, writer of fine funnybooks of distinction, I discovered the website of one CHRIS SAMNEE, whose name makes him sound like a Hobbit but is in reality one of the best newish artists I've seen lately. He draws the best Batman this side of Dave Mazzuchelli, and does right by Daredevil too. DC really missed the boat by not letting this guy draw Grant Morrison's recent run on the Caped Crusader, and when Mike Lark decides to move on to less depressing pastures, it sure wouldn't break my heart to see him take over art chores on Daredevil as well!

In other tidbits from hither and thither:

Right now, if you move quickly, you can download the pilot episode of the new ABC Family series based on THE MIDDLE MAN comic and graphic novel series from iTunes. I did so, and I'm pleased to report that I found it to be much better than this sort of thing tends to be; TV, unlike movies, hasn't learned not to screw around with comics properties just for the sake of screwing around- but no doubt due to the presence of series co-creator Javier Grillo-Marxuach, who aided in the development, this doesn't seem to be the case here. If you're familiar with the comics, it's a wacky mix of superhero, martial arts and spy-movie genres, and that what-the-hell feel remains intact. The cast is agreeable, less so Matt Keeslar as the Middleman than Natalie Morales, who plays Wendy, his assistant. While not a redhead with glasses, she still is very fetching and has a nice way with a quip, and together they have good chemistry. The show is, as is so often the case these days, full of clever little asides and pop culture references, even to the point of devoting a few minutes to an Avengers-style (Steed and Mrs. Peel, not Tony Stark, Cap & Co.) montage in which the pair mug and pose just like MacNee and Rigg in their heyday, appropriately enough, this episode's director is Jeremiah Chechik, who helmed that misbegotten Avengers film with Fiennes and Thurman...but he does have National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation on his resume, so he's all right in my book. Morales reminds me more than a little here of Studio 60's Amanda Peet, firing off clever quips right and left as fast as she can...and as with Studio 60, that's my biggest problem with this. Nearly every character is quirky to the point of preciousness, from Mary Lynn Rajskub's chatty monotonistic simian research center head, to Wendy's animal-rights activist roommate, to the leads themselves, as if they're just a group of characteristics instead of real characters. Morales in particular succeeds in fleshing hers out, but her sidekick Keeslar's not so fortunate, which is passable because he's pretty much a one-note character anyway, even in the comics. Anyway, as with Aaron Sorkin's folly, it gets wearing to see the characters being constantly on, rapid-firing quips in a rushed monotone to everyone and everything, seemingly to show how clever the writers are more than anything. That's really my biggest complaint, and even on top of this I still found myself laughing at some of the bon mots more often as not. As low-budget comic-book TV adaptations go, The Middle Man seems to be a winner. You can go here , to comic artist/co-creator Les McClaine's LJ, to get a link to download it. I gotta say, too, that I enjoyed watching it on my Mother Box, I mean my iPod Nano...the screen's tiny, sure, but the resolution was good, the picture was crisp, and the sound was very good. Of course, you can watch it anywhere you want, I guess, including TV- it airs June 16th at 8 and 9 PM EST on ABC Family. I might just watch it then, too.

They tell me I'm getting new comics tomorrow, and this be them:


MANHUNTER #31: They keep killing it, and it keeps coming back! Who says Marvel has the monopoly on zombie comics? New artist this time out, Michael Gaydos, whose work reminds me a little of Shawn Martinbrough in places, and I like Martinbrough's work very much. Not "buy Ayre Force much", mind you (Angeltown was the last straw there), but I like it a lot on the right project.

BOYS #19 (MR)

WONDER WOMAN #21: I know- "Johnny B! What the hell! A Wonder Woman comic? By Gail Simone?" Yes, yes and yes because it is my understanding that none other than my old buddy Beowulf: Dragon Slayer is making an appearance in this one, which means I wanna see it!

100 BULLETS #92

Go HERE to read the first fifty or so pages of THE APOCALIPSTIX, a new Oni series from artist Cam (Catwoman, Seaguy) Stewart and writer Ray Fawkes. It looks hellasweet, as the kids used to say. I hope I get a copy, I somehow neglected to preorder it!

Go here to read "Thrill Kill", an unforgettable mid-late 70's Archie Goodwin/Neal Adams Warren Magazine (was it in The Rook? I forget) collaboration and probably the last worthwhile thing Adams has done to date in the sequential storytelling area. Well, there's Skateman, as Kevin Church reminds me, but really that was in a league of its own.

OK, that's all I got for now. Tom Spurgeon I ain't.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


It's time once more for another Spinner Rack Junkie- that more-or-less ongoing and often overdue feature in which I write capsule reviews of various works of sequential fiction that I have perused in the interval since the last time I inflicted such reviews upon one and all, or to be specific, the period from approximately May 24th to June 6th, some of which may even still be on sale at finer comics selling establishments worldwide if you're lucky. Or not, as the case may be.

ALL STAR SUPERMAN #11: The big guy continues to prepare for his imminent demise, even as Luthor pulls an Indestructible Man, contriving to give himself 24-hour super powers to boot, then sics our old friend Solaris the Living Sun on him- a nice example of successfully returning to the scene of former storylines by Mr. Morrison. Also along is Luthor's villainous niece, of whom I've previously been unaware, and I can't say that I regret my ignorance even though she's part of a nicely cynical scene involving Lois and Jimmy, aka the Press. All in all, another very good issue; if Grant's spreading himself too thin, and more on that a few reviews down, it's not immediately apparent as this is fast-paced, full of stuff both overt and covert, and as much fun as can be managed, considering the downbeat tone of the whole thing. Quitely, with a lot of help from Photoshop inker Jamie Grant, brings his usual dry, static layout style (and also, once again, Supes' ill-fitting costume) to the proceedings, but by emphasizing the small things, such as the bullet crushing itself against Luthor's palm, it enhances and suggests action just as successfully as all the speed lines and force bursts you can muster, and of course brings out all the connections intended to be made by the dialogue. A

CATWOMAN #79: As nice as it is to have Selina back on the real Earth and free of all the sci-fi bullshit, it seems that we've returned to overfamiliar territory as she is once more involved with Slam Bradley and all the other dangling plot threads (including a couple that I thought had been resolved already) that have been around for what seems like years now. Well, we do get a different villain of sorts, and there's nothing wrong with at least letting us see how CW gets payback for being shipped off to the Salvation Run planet...but it's just a little played-out feeling, that's all. Still, the character interaction is great as always, and the Lopezes once more turn in a good art job. I can't wait to see what Pfiefer has up his sleeve next for Sel- oh. Wait. B+

DAREDEVIL #107: This is still non-stop wigged-out DD, and thus verging on the tedious, and on top of that we have yet another plotline in which a convict is accused of something he apparently didn't do, and it's up to our boy to set things straight. This works more as a Dakota North spotlight than it does as a Daredevil story, and that's OK with me...I just wish that someone could make this book fresh again. Until then, it's either bail or accompany Matt through the wilderness of his soul, it seems, because I don't see this glum direction shifting anytime soon. B

FABLES #73: More war maneuvers, and the first signs of the other shoe dropping that I've been concerned with for so long. Otherwise, without lapsing into my 100 Bullets-type can't-think-of-anything-new-to-say review style, I'll just say that this is another solid issue, and am steadfastly along for the ride, as long as it lasts. A-

FINAL CRISIS #1: Dear Comics Blogosphere: you DO realize that we still have six issues of this to go, right? Everybody and their great-grandmother are analyzing this like it was a Watchmen omnibus or something, when it's merely one chapter of a much bigger story and not really even as dense in its way as Seven Soldiers #0 was. I think everyone needs to step back and breathe a little. As someone who has pretty much ignored DC's prior multi-issue crossover folderol so far and doesn't feel even slightly poorer for doing so, I don't really care if what Morrison lays out here doesn't jibe with certain plot points in some other comic that I couldn't care less about. I can see others' point about this issue, but it certainly seems to me that at this stage in Big Two history, continuity is out the freaking window and running down the highway by now anyway, so caring about it is an exercise in futility and takes up energies that could be best devoted to something worthwhile. Morrison's low-key approach suits the material, I think; I believe an objective tone is the best way to go. Under- rather than overstate, which does fly in the face of a lot of superhero books these days, I know. Sometimes this tone is self-defeating; the petty, offputtingly undignified death of J'onn J'onzz follows a really nice scene in which villains sit around and verbally bitch-slap each other, thus canceling themselves out. Even though I honestly feel like he's spread himself too thin over the last couple of years, I have observed that he generally plans this stuff out well enough to where I think that he has not given us the final word on that subject. The operative phrase here, I think, is WAIT and SEE. If he still comes across as flying by the seat of his pants after #7, as he did with Seven Soldiers #1, then it's open season as far as I'm concerned...and even then I will give him the benefit of the doubt because I, for one, would like to see him just take at least a year off and recharge his batteries. Right now, he's as close as he's ever been to churning out product, complete with the DC de rigueur Batman/Wonder Woman/Superman sitting at a table and...discussing much a current fixture in their books, it seems, as apes on covers once was- and that is not good. Anyway, it helps that he has a talented, proven collaborator not named Quitely do bring this to life; Jones is such a talented illustrator that he's capable of adding nuance and feeling even when none is there. Sure, he's on the static side when depicting mayhem, but when it comes to action art, as with Quitely, J.G. Jones is more concerned with showing us the still-life moments that make up the act, rather than trying to somehow simulate the action itself sequentially; sort of a Peckinpah-like approach, I'd imagine. Maybe it's just blind allegiance due to his much-loved-by-me art stints on the first Yelena Belova Black Widow miniseries, or Marvel Boy...but I always enjoy his work, and I'm not so sure I would be buying this if he weren't illustrating it. So, to sum, pretty much love the art, found more to like than to dislike about the story (and while I'm thinking about it, "muk-muks" doesn't sound any less idiotic when Grant's doing it than when Kirby did it, as much as I like the Dan Turpin character) and am willing to be patient with it. I hope my confidence is not misplaced. B+

HAWAIIAN DICK: SCREAMING BLACK THUNDER #4: With only one issue left to go, I'm pleased to report that I've gotten used to Scott Chantler's take on Byrd and Co.. I love Northwest Passage, as I'm always taking pains to point out, but until this issue I've always thought he was awkward fit here. He hasn't changed, it seems, I have...and that's good because while this would still be an enjoyable chapter, in which more seems to happen than the first four put together, it's always more pleasurable when I can enjoy both working in tandem. A-

JOHN CONSTANTINE: HELLBLAZER #244: Finale of the two-part Vatican-baiting adventure, and it's well done with a left-field twist at the end which, when the big picture is considered, is no less satisfying. The Giuseppe Camuncoli/Stefano Landini fill-in art is OK, no more no less, possessed of a willfully angular look which sometimes reminds me of primo Richard Case. That said, any artist team that makes me wish to see Leo Manco back has two strikes against it already in my scorebook. B+

NORTHLANDERS #6: Well, I don't really like protagonist Sven any better now that I know more about him, but I do certainly admire his courage in his convictions, whatever the hell they are. Nice character work, especially dialogue, plus the desire to see where Wood is taking this is the impetus that's keeping me laying down my three bucks. Well, that and the grubby but quietly outstanding art that David Gianfelice brings to the table- he's under the radar now, but I look at his art and seriously think he's a star in the making, or at least an heir to that Frank Frazetta-type historical fantasy adventure artist throne that no one seems to be willing to take up. Gianfelice is my nominee. A-

NUMBER OF THE BEAST #4: Beautifully drawn, as always- in my book, Sprouse is as good as it gets these days, especially when inked by Karl Story. But four issues in, they're giving us leftovers, and even worse putting on airs about it as if this is a SIGNIFICANT EVENT IN COMICS HISTORY, when really all it is is yet another multi-character Crisis-style sci-fi spandex melodrama. It's far from unreadable, especially now that they've stopped introducing everybody and everything in the dialogue, and I suspect that this would be a decent rainy-day read when collected. But one issue at a time, I'm just not feeling it much despite the fact that it looks real purty. B-

SCALPED #17: By sticking to the big picture here, Jason Aaron may have whiffed on the chance to deliver an emotionally charged home run in the course of this ongoing series...but as is, it's still plenty deep and dramatic, and I derive particular pleasure from seeing how he's setting up nominal villain Lincoln Red Crow to be instead in the great tradition of the honorable cad a la Deadwood's Al Swearengen, a man who's willing to do whatever it takes to advance his goals, but has an internal code of ethics that he will not willingly violate. I look forward to seeing his story unfold even more than I do the lead character Dash Bad Horse, who certainly gets his share of the spotlight as well. And then, we get a curve thrown at us via an ending that I certainly didn't see coming, and which raises questions that I'm not sure I want answered in that fashion. Guera is solid as always on art; I wish he could curb his tendency to get cartoonish in his faces, but that's nitpicking- he more than makes up for it with his composition and his good sense of blackspotting. Another excellent issue, and the third trade's coming out in a month or two... A

Monday, June 09, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to present to you, courtesy of Tim Buckley: the Theme Song of the Johnny Bacardi Show, also known by the title "Peanut Man", from his 1973 release Sefronia. Just listen and you'll see what I mean.

Truth be told, however, I'm not fond of sweet potatoes, and while perspiration sometimes has its charms, I generally don't get into that either.

Those of you reading this via feed readers, such as Google Reader or Bloglines, you'll have to click through.

Friday, June 06, 2008


Bahlactus hath called and I hath answered! Usually I try to find weird, obscure and/or unusual fight scenes, operative word being try, and it's twice as difficult since I still don't have use of my scanner and am limited to stuff I can scavenge off scans_daily and other venues hither and yon. Anyway, tonight's black and white throwdown is the exact opposite of weird, obscure and/or unusual- it's your basic Batman/Joker beatdown, which we've all seen thousands of times in thousands of places. At least it's one which is illustrated by the redoubtable Neal Adams, who by the time of this issue (#251, cover-dated September of 1973) was at the end of his seminal run with Dennis O'Neil, only doing art for two more issues before turning his attention to drawing Grand Funk album covers and such. Anyway, this is from the well-known and dare I say classic of its kind "Joker's Five-Way Revenge". Bad joke by Bats there at the end.


Thursday, June 05, 2008

Got tagged by the estimable Plok for a meme that I've seen making the rounds lately, and since I'm not really coming up with anything to put here lately (in fact, still haven't read all the comics I got last Friday!), I think this will do.

List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they’re not any good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying now, shaping your spring. Post these instructions in your blog along with your 7 songs. Then tag 7 other people to see what they’re listening to.

I listen to five times that in the course of a normal day; that really makes it hard to pick tracks that really stand out...but these are some that came to mind when I pondered the criteria. This is going to be less of a "songs that shape my Spring/Summer" list and more of a "songs that I remember digging lately" list. And yep, don't worry, it's all boring old fart 70's music, or music made by boring old farts that came to prominence in that decade in which I grew up in most ways.

1. I COME TUMBLIN' by Grand Funk Railroad (E Pluribus Funk)
As I've stated on many occasions, when I was 11-12 yrs of age GFR was the band all the cool older kids listened to. Pluribus was the last album they did before expanding into a four-man group, firing their manager/producer, and enlisting Todd Rundgren to make them pop stars via We're an American Band. Anyway, I used to have this album on 8-track many years ago, and gave it a good proper listening to in its time, but it had been many years since I'd had the opportunity to do so again until recently acquiring this album via download. I had forgotten what a non-stop hard-rocking album this was, with the bass up front in the mix, and "Tumblin' " is a great example that also sports good group harmonies.

2. DOLPHINS by Tim Buckley (Sefronia)
I've been an absolute fiend for Buckley lately; acquiring nearly all his albums in the last few months. He started out as a gentle folkie type, but soon metamorphosed into a restless stylistic chameleon whose subsequent albums ran the gamut from Miles Davis-influenced experimental to Van Morrison/Ray Charles/Rolling Stones style R&B, but never sounded mawkish or imitative. And his voice- oh my god, the man could sing like no one on this Earth. Problem is, the more he tried to break new ground and keep his restless muse happy, the farther into obscurity he sank, each album selling poorer than the previous until his premature drug-related death in 1975. This is a cover of a song by New York folk hero Fred Neil, whose greatest claim to fame was as writer of "Everybody's Talkin'", which Harry Nilsson took to the bank via the Midnight Cowboy soundtrack- Buckley performed it from his early days, and had long intended to record it. Finally, he got around to doing it on 1973's Sefronia, his penultimate release, and I think he really did it justice. To see him performing this live from this period, go here, and prepare to be amazed.

3. BYE BYE BLACKBIRD by Ringo Starr from Sentimental Journey
Paul released a home-crafted set of pop songs, John his highly personal and abrasive kiss off to his former group, and George bided his time, delivering a mammoth set of finely crafted songs that he'd been sitting on, in some cases, for three years. What did Ringo do in the wake of the breakup? Why, he put out an album's worth of standards, "for me Mum" as he put it at the time, probably the most non-rockish thing he could have possibly done. If you ever wanted to hear what Richie sounded like singing "Love is a Many Splendored Thing" and "Stardust", with appropriate accompaniment that was arranged by a clutch of celebrity arrangers such as George Martin, Paul McCartney, Richard Perry, and Quincy Jones, well, here you go. This is the second cut and probably the catchiest, arranged by Maurice Gibb using a big band arrangement with banjo. Tra la la. I think he could do worse than to revisit this type of music, even though it's a bit late for the Harry Connick, Jr./Brian Setzer-led Big Band and Swing revival. Anything's better than the last four or so half-assed mediocre-sounding pop records he's done.

4. DAUGHTERS OF THE SEA/FLYING CLOUD by the Doobie Brothers from What Were Once Vices are Now Habits
Song one is a rock/folk exercise with a nautical theme, sung and written by Patrick Simmons. You remember, the guitarist with the really long hair that wrote "Black Water", which is also on this album. Song two is an lovely synth/acoustic guitar-driven instrumental. When I was a teen and in my early 20's I loved the good-time hippie-vibe summertime keg party rock/folk boogie-band stylings of the Bros., before Mike McDonald joined up and changed them (for the worse) into a poor man's Steely Dan. These two tracks always remind me of listening to them in the back seat of my parent's car at 4 AM one summer, on my old portable 8-track player with the sound down low, as we drove to Florida for a vacation when I was (I think) 15.

5. NOBODY LOVES YOU LIKE I DO by Emerson, Lake and Palmer from Works Vol. 1
Toldja this was a bunch of old boring fart music, didn't I? Anyway, after shooting their collective wad with 1973's excellent (well, I think so anyway) Brain Salad Surgery album, they preceeded to fart around with live albums and such for four years, even planning to do the "simultaneous release of solo albums" thing that Yes beat them to by a year because they apparently had lost all patience with each other, until finally deciding to put them all together as one big double album extravaganza called Works Vol.1, which makes it sound a lot more impressive than it really was- Emerson's side was exciting for piano enthusiasts and precious few others; drummer Palmer's side was a collection of melody-challenged percussive-themed pop songs with all-star accompaniment, and the two-song side that featured the trio reunited in the studio for as long as they could tolerate each other contained a tuneful, but overlong instrumental Copland cover and a really overlong and melody free song about Pirates, which at least had the saving grace of Pete Sinfield lyrics. But Greg Lake's side was a whole 'nother thing- collaborating with Sinfield, he presented five grandiose acoustic-guitar based and orchestra-driven ballads, three of which are effectively romantic, one of which is quite cynical and features Sinfield's best wordsmithery, and then there's this one, which seems to be a love letter to ELP fans. It's bighearted and sports another great melody, with a atmospheric, muted guitar solo in the middle. I rarely listen to the other three sides, but lately I've been in the mood to hear Lake's, and this song, in particular.

6. BIRDS FLY SOUTH by Maria Muldaur from Open Your Eyes
Eyes was Maria's last release for Warners, where she found her greatest success only six years earlier with "Midnight at the Oasis". By 1979, she was trying to stay current by working some contemproary disco rhythms and R&B into her folk/jazz/country mix, and it was sometimes an awkward fit. Still, especially if you're a fan, there's a lot to like about this album, which often reminds one of contemporaneous Little Feat in places and still features a couple of tracks that remind of past glories, like this one. It's a sweetly cheerful little old-fashioned sounding soulish shuffle in which Maria informes her beau that when he's down she'll fuck him and make him feel all better. Honestly, that little scamp. I don't have the album credits handy, but someone contributes some sassy/sprightly harmonica at the beginning that is somewhat annoying early on but adds a lot in the middle solo break.

7. DOWN ON RODEO by Lindsey Buckingham from Under the Skin
This is from Lindsay's long-delayed 2006 follow-up to his last solo album, 1992's Out of the Cradle. It's mostly acoustic and sparsely arranged, with Buckingham playing most of the instruments, save for Mick Fleetwood and John McVie providing a rhythm section for a couple of cuts...and this is one of them. I actually enjoy this album a lot more than I expected- I like Lindsey more when he's in full-on studio wonk Brian Wilson wannabe mode and often find his manic acoustic playing hard to take. The lead cut is the worst offender, but it's actually not that bad once one gets acclimated. Anyway, in this case "Rodeo" refers to Rodeo Drive of course, and it's kind of a melancholy look back at days gone by in later years with a dynamite melodic hook in the chorus.

And that's only a few- if I had done this a couple of days later, there would be a different set of songs, of that I've no doubt. I'm not going to tag anybody else, but if you think you'd like to give it a whirl, please let me know because I've enjoyed reading many of the others I've seen around the 'Sphere.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Taking a break to recharge the old batteries, hence the lack of posts lately. With any luck, I'll get back in the saddle later this week.