Friday, April 30, 2004

It's late, and I'm tired, and I'm not gonna attempt anything substantial tonight. But I did see something interesting over at Shane's joint: the newly formed (well, new to me...but I tend to be behind the curve of this sort of thing) International Comic Arts Association, or ICAA for short, "dedicated to the strengthening and further advancement of the industry as a whole". I'm sure the cynics, critics and the do-nothing brigade will soon be out in force- but me, I think this bears watching, and should at the very least provide a lot of blogfodder for the burgeoning comics blogosphereiverse.

Tomorrow, I have a 25% off sale at my comics shop to attend, then my neglected yard will need to be dealt with, weather permitting. Sometime soon, comics reviews. And who knows, I might even try to draw some more- panels even, and in some sort of sequential order! This should be interesting...
Hello, everybody...been busy busy busy today.

All I got for now is this link to (you know, those little color sample books that fan out and no designer or printer can live without) and their Colorstrology Page. Click on your birth month, then the date, and go from there. Mine is "sunburn" and "burlwood". Wearing these colors is supposed to portend all kinds of good stuff for me, but those colors just make me look kinda silly. Anyway, hopefully I'll post something more substantial later.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Once in a while I'll go over to Wilson & Alroy's record review site; even though I often disagree with them on this review or that, they have a nice, no-frills style and they're fun to read. Clicking on their "new additions" link, I was greeted with a review of something called Wing Sings the Songs You Love, and curiosity provoked, I checked it out. Apparently there's this expatriate Chinese lady named Wing, now a resident of New Zealand, who has released at least seven albums of covers of songs both old and new...and Wilson is evidently an admirer of her work. At least I think he is...all those reviews are written with eyebrow firmly cocked. Anyway, he points to her official web site, where you can get Quicktime samples of many of her songs- and let me tell you, once you've experienced the stylings of Wing, well, let's just say you won't ever forget them. Go check 'em out, I double dog dare ya...hee hee hee...
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Because she seemed to go over well when I posted a sketch of her yesterday, here's another, as recent as you can get...'cause I did it a few minutes ago. It's been kinda slow this afternoon. Anyway, here she is- the Princess of Arrika, daughter of Nikolas and Vulnavia Arcana, goddaughter of Ravyr Zevon, and her world's only hope...if she can only get back there.

I was gonna put some snazzy text graphics on it, but we got busy again...
Ooh! Ooh! A Music Meme!

1. Grab the nearest CD.
2. Put it in your CD-Player (or start your mp3-player, I-tunes, etc.).
3. Skip to Song 3 (or load the 3rd song in your 3rd playlist)
4. Post the first verse in your journal along with these instructions. Don’t name the band, nor the album-title.

Ain't no people on the old dirt road
No more weather on the old dirt road
It's better than a mudslide mamma when the dry spell come, yeah
Oh oh oh old dirt road

Via Brendan.
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You know what? I love me some NRBQ.

I caught an airing of the Mountain Stage concert show last night on one of our local PBS stations, and it featured the Q along with Loudon Wainwright III (another subject for further research-I've heard his stuff on and off for years but have never been moved to buy, something I intend to remedy some day). For some reason, I was thinking that this was an older show, but a glance at the Mountain Stage website gives its air date as September 2003, so...hey, it looks like they haven't lost a step over the years. I hate to admit it, but it's been a long, long time since I last picked up one of their albums- 1994's strangely uninvolving Message For the Mess Age, which was also Big Al Anderson's last record with the group...and, I think, caused me to mentally write them off as well thereafter. Judging from their show last night, though, they're as quirky and fun as ever, mixing covers of country, show tunes, and R&B with likeable originals, and doing them all with style and class. Bassist Joey Spampinato is cool and smooth, and sings wonderfully; brother Johnny, who replaced Big Al, is a fine addition and bashes his guitar quite nicely, and Terry Adams (native Kentuckian he) is his usual inimitable self, playing the piano in his Chico Marx-meets-Jerry Lee Lewis style; and drummer Tom Ardolino is solid as a rock in his knit hat. I never got to see NRBQ when Big Al was with them, and I've always regretted that...but I think I'll try and keep an eye out to see if they'll be playing nearby (as it seems like they always are), and take care of that once and for all. My son watched a large part of the show with me, but I don't think he was impressed much. Afterwards, I dug out their great 1977 album At Yankee Stadium, sporting one of my favorite album covers (by the way), and gave it a spin. Man, I love their trombone-accented cover of "Shake, Rattle & Roll".

And this concludes my rambling little appreciation of the New Rhythm and Blues Quartet. If you've never heard anything of theirs, please do so immediately. Start with the 2-CD set Peek-A-Boo, and go from there. It probably won't change your life or anything, but you'll have a damn good time for a while.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Have you ever felt like doing something crazy-nutty-insane? Well, I'm kinda in that sort of mood. So I'm gonna post more sketches from the last few years, since I've had a pretty positive reaction to what i've posted so far. Lest you fear I'll turn this into a sketchblog, I will tell you that there isn't much more that I care to present for public perusal, even when I'm throwing my better judgement to the wind. So here goes!

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I did this one of Lady Pendragon, a character I know absolutely nothing about nor have I ever read a single issue of her exploits, for a Wizard cover contest I was thinking about entering. Swiped from Mucha.

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This is Volcana Ash, from the McGregor/Russell 1970's War of the Worlds featuring Killraven series. Drawn from memory one slow afternoon at Camping World, and it shows.

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Another Wizard contest entry, the difference being that I actually sent this one in. Of course, I didn't win. Guess I should have drawn Wolverine.

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Finally, this one's all mine. Her name is Pandora Arcana, and she's a cross between the mysterious Russian princess Anastasia, Pat Savage, and Johanna Constantine. She's a character I've had kicking around in my head for years upon years now, and I have a whole backstory and cast of characters to go along with her. Occasionally I toy with the idea of creating a website for her...but I wouldn't hold my breath.

Hope you like 'em, and I hope they didn't take too long to load. I tried to create the files at 72 dpi, but you never know. Will I post more? Stay tuned...
That Melrose fella points to a Time magazine review of Derek Kirk Kim's Same Difference and Other Stories, which is mostly positive, as well it should be. It also makes me think that I really, really need to get some trades of Optic Nerve one of these days. Stray Bullets, too. So much to read, so little time.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Two quick things that I felt like sharing:

One, I've been listening to Mott The Hoople Live, a 1974 stopgap record, the sort that Christgau refers to as a "profit-taking throwaway"...but this ragged little record kicks ass. Ian Hunter had to skip the subtlety and baroque touches that he used on the last studio album, The Hoople, and it makes the album sloppy but fun. One half was recorded in New York, and the other half in London. Ariel Bender was the guitarist, replacing Mick Ralphs, who had joined Bad Company. Bender was the type of guitarist whose reach exceeded his grasp, and what he lacked in skills he made up for with sheer howling noise...and he gets several opportunities to make noisy solos on several great songs. I bought this new back in '74 when I was 14, and I think I've always kinda overlooked it because it wasn't as sophisticated and laden with studio gimmickery as its immediate predecessors, but here 30 years later, on this evening anyway, it sounds pretty darn good.

I also want to note that the Official Hockey Team of the Johnny Bacardi Show is now the Calgary Flames. I like those guys. They play gutty and hard. Plus they have pretty cool unis, ironically enough for a team called the "Flames". As I write, they lead the Red Wings 3-2, and I hope to hell I haven't jinxed them. Go Flames!

And that is your sports mention of the week.

Update! It seems that there will be a reissue of MTH Live, a 2-disc set which promises more of the two shows represented on the vinyl and current CD version. I've been clicking around on a pretty thorough MTH site, and that's where I saw the announcement. I looked on Amazon, but found nothing...stay tuned!
Just when you think you've seen it all, something comes along like a bolt out of the blue and knocks you for a loop.

There is apparently going to be an American Gothic motion picture! You heard me. A movie revival of the excellent TV series from the late 90s. Sheriff Buck must have pulled a few strings. I'm quite sure that they're passing out fur parkas and snow boots in hell even as I type this. Go here to read the article.

Thanks to Mik Cary for the heads-up!
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Not that I'm trying to be a comics news source or anything, but as you may know I really like the art of Jason Pearson, and now I read in Markisan Naso's column (via Popp'd) about an upcoming collaboration with Ed Brubaker called Redbird. Now, questions of political correctness aside, and I know it's always dodgy when creators deal with Native American characters...this looks incredibly sweet! It cracks me up, paleface that I am, that she's wearing a t-shirt with the Cleveland Indians' Chief just know the Native American PC patrol's gonna love that. Just based on the preliminary sketches, I'm sold. I understand that it will run in an as-yet-unnamed anthology book from Wildstorm, which is not especially encouraging given WS's recent history, but we shall see (as the saying goes) what we shall see.

Anybody out there remember Tim Truman's Scout ?
I see where, over at his CBR column, Augie DeBlieck has critiqued The Losers, and comes to completely opposite conclusions about artist Jock and colorist Lee Loughridge (Is Loughridge a woman? I didn't know that!) than I hold. I will admit that I didn't care for Jock's style at all when I first saw it, not only on the preview that appeared in 100 Bullets but also on his fill-in stint on Hellblazer as well, but I think he has definitely progressed with his Simonson-meets-Sean Phillips style, and I wouldn't want to see anyone else (well, maybe Shawn Martinbrough) drawing the book. And I generally despise Loughridge's glum, monotonous palette on nearly everything else she's done, but she uses a much wider range on Losers, and has come up with some beautiful effects several times.

Still, interesting column, especially the sales figures analysis.
I honestly think that the new Catwoman flick is going to make Batman and Robin look like Spider-Man. Or maybe even Citizen Kane.

Check out this poster and explain to me who the hell would think that open-toed shiny vinyl high heel boots would be appropriate footwear for anyone, let alone cat burglars, or whatever the hell this character is supposed to be? Ay caramba.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Most of you reading this may already be aware of it, but if not you can go here for a video interview with Losers writer Andy Diggle!
Image Hosted by Dipping once again into the Ait/PlanetLar box o'goodness, I now present the following:

I went through a phase, oh some 10-15 years ago, of being obsessed with the books of William Gibson (or at least strongly interested...I mean, how far can you take that particular obsession living in rural Kentucky and not even owning a home computer until 1993?) and other "cyberpunk" authors, and I have surely not been the only one because there have been a ton of imitations since...not only in prose novels, but films and especially in comics, and (to be kind) many of them have been (shall we say) less than successful in mining the same vein that Gibson and his peers. Heck, even Gibson is having difficulty these days, as his newest novels have been greeted with mixed reviews. Fortunately for our purposes, however, Brian Wood's Channel Zero is one of the good ones. The tale of former performance artist-turned-"Infoterrorist" Jennie 2.5, who lives in a Orwellian not-so-distant future (actually, "right now" according to the notes at the beginning) dominated by special interest groups and the corrupt government (did I say "future"?). She attempts to wrest freedom of expression back from the Evil Empire by hacking into the regulated, sanitized airwaves and bringing the truth back to the people in order to wake them up from their media-imposed slumber. Problem is, Jennie becomes a celebrity for doing this, and the government turns her fame inwards against her, leading to unforeseen complications and a somewhat draconian resolution. Wood is giving us a lot of stuff here- adventure story, media commentary along with subtle and not-so-subtle satire of same, and compelling personal drama as well. Wood the artist is also on top of his game, augmenting his McKeever-ish drawing style with daring layouts and effectively minimalist inks, as well as collage both pictoral and also in the form of tiny slogans stripped in at all angles on nearly every page, serving to disorient sometimes, amuse sometimes, and often enlighten along the way. It could have easily devolved into chaos, but Wood's instincts keep him honest every time. Channel Zero is sharp and smart, and more than a little prescient given that Wood started this in 1997! Zero is by far the best thing I've read from AiT to date, and I hope that Wood can find time (between issues of Demo) to give us further looks into the life and times of Jennie 2.5. A

Which, in a way, he does with the follow-up

In which we meet the pre-upgrade Jennie 2.5 when she was just struggling art school student Jennifer Havel, and we get a little insight into why she became what she became plus a glimpse of the events that led to the "Clean Act" which has made life so stifling for the free-thinkers in Jennie's world. Biggest difference here is the artist, Demo's Becky Cloonan, and while she's not the daredevil Wood is, she's still pretty damned good- reminsicent of Paul Pope in a lot of places, and she gives the story a lot of vitality along with a more...aesthetically pleasing, shall we say, Jennie. I want more, I do. A

Basically a collection of Warren Ellis' online columns from Comic Book Resources that appeared from 1999 to 2001, how interesting you'll find this depends on how you feel about Ellis and his opinions. If you're an admirer, chances are you've probably got many of these pieces memorized anyway. If you're not, you probably won't want to read...but I think that would be a terrible mistake because much of what Ellis says here is as true in 2004 as it was five years ago, maybe more so, and if your preconceptions are so easily shaken perhaps they're not worth holding in the first place. Me, I'm somewhere in between. Often I think Ellis snipes just for the sake of sniping, and can be a bit of a contratrian- but he has a very low bullshit tolerance factor, always a good thing, and sees to the heart of much that the average comics reader just doesn't want to see...and I admire the heck out of that. I read many of these columns the first time around, so a lot of this was familiar to me, but I can recommend this book to anyone that wants a serious examination and discourse about many of the problems which the comics industry faced, and still faces, now. A-

Well, here's where I go from the comp list to the shit list in one fell swoop. As I've said many times before, I just don't care for super-hero satire. It's not that I don't think the spandex set shouldn't be made fun of, God knows- quite the opposite, in fact. But frankly, in my opinion, the best super hero satire is over fifty years old- Kurtzman & Wood's Superduperman. While there have been other worthy attempts- Marvel's Not Brand Echh comes to mind- there's nothing that the legions of would-be satirists, both in cartoons and in comics, can say or show that wasn't said or shown quite effectively four decades ago. But wait, you say- PotC isn't exactly satire! It has its serious side as well! And that's true...but the humorous stuff and the serious stuff are all written with the same straightfaced tone, and the result is neither here nor there, and is often baffling as in the case of the gargantuan Hulk-type character, who carries a child in one of his deformed arms while going on a destruction spree, and whose frightened parent is told by another of the "heroes" that "He just wants to show you a good time...he just wants you to care", and the parent, along with the onlookers, just accept this and go along, after the Schaff gives the child back unharmed. It's not funny, and you can't take it seriously because we don't get any further with the situation, so one doesn't know what to think. Do these beings, apparently the only super-folks on this world, simply think they're above concern for the lesser, ordinary people they presumably protect? That's certainly the case with this "Grand" fellow, who's a sort of not-so-true blue Superman type. When the super-group gets transported to another world, and encounter powerless Fantastic Four-ish types, all the Grand wants to do is take over, because he doesn't think anyone there can stop him. The Batman/Captain America-amalgam Justice Hall disagrees, and they battle, in a homage or satire or something of Miller's Dark Knight books. This book is full of neither-this-nor-that moments that left me frankly unsure what to think about them...I didn't think it was successful as social commentary, or satire, or even as straight superhero adventure since it seems to be made up of a thousand different elements of superhero comics I've read for 40 years now, and none of them are topped, enhanced or re-examined at all. Allegory? If that's the case, then I just didn't get what it was an allegory for. Creative hubris, perhaps? Regardless, PotC just didn't work for me. It just read like a collection of the clichés that satirists and revisionists use to lampoon the original superhero clichés. Perhaps I am just slow on the uptake, who knows. The art, by Brandon McKinney, was just as inconsistent as the script, which makes it well matched, I suppose. Obviously, he's trying to give us a Perez/Starlin inspired look, and while he wasn't completely unsuccessful, it's just not an art style that excites me much. C-

Still to go- Astronauts In Trouble: Master Flight Plan, the Making of AiT, and True Facts. I'm not done with you yet, Larry...heh heh heh...
I'm sure many of you woke up this morning wondering "Hm. I wonder what comics Johnny B is going to buy on Wednesday?". And thanks to the nice peoples at Diamond, I can tell you!


And that appears to be that. Batman: Harley & Ivy looks to be a lot of fun, and I expect no less from the Dini/Timm team. I was a bit sobered after I read the early review from one of the fellas at The Fourth Rail, in which he points out that with the imminent demise of the Batman Adventures comic, and a new-style Batman animated series on the way, that this might be the last hurrah for the animated Timm-style Batman we've all come to know and love. Well, I've known and loved it, anyway. Also looking forward to the ending of Ultimate Six, and you can take that any way you like; also any week with The Losers is a great comics week even if it was the only one I was getting.
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Our phone wasn't ringing in over the weekend, and we had been thinking about getting a new one for quite some time now (our old phone's handset had died, so we were using another one that didn't have an answering machine, so I had jury rigged both phones together so I could receive messages), so I bought a new phone Saturday night. Well, actually, I put it on a credit card. And because I put it on a credit card, the little "spend money" devil on my shoulder said "Hey, there's the CD by that Joss Stone chickie that you saw on VH1 the other night! And it's only $8.95! Why don't you throw that in, too!" So I did. I thought, well, this might be interesting if she (or her people, anyway) is/are as faithful on record to the retro-soul leanings as she was on the VH1 Divas show I saw the other night. And on that score, she succeeds 100%. Most of the songs on her Soul Sessions CD are very much influenced by Aretha Franklin and Miami Soul, not to mention early Bonnie Raitt, an apparent influence that doesn't get mentioned in the hype. There are some impressive, nicely done tracks like "Fell in Love With a Boy" (A funked-up, gender-corrected cover of the White Stripes song, by far the best thing on the record) opener "The Chokin' Kind", "I've Fallen In Love With You"; a ballsy Carla Thomas cover blessed with a nice string arrangement, and a cover of that chestnut "Some Kind of Wonderful", which is given a laid-back but driving arrangment which pleases. On the negative side, "Dirty Man" is a would-be showcase for Stone's pipes, but has a bare-bones blues arrangement which bores me to tears, and a couple of cuts towards the end are would-be soulful, but just come across to me as dull and lifeless, with her band tinkling around in the background while Joss wails and coos and Janises around ("I Had A Dream Last Night", "For The Love Of You"), and these do nothing for me either. Will our 17-year-old wannabe LaVern Baker have staying power? Will she go on and have a long career, or will she be the next Joan Osborne or Macy Gray? Will she stick to her Stax guns, or will she go all Britney & Christina on us? When will Madonna enter the picture? Who knows. But right here right now, this is a fine little early 70s-style recording- nothing world-changing or anything, but a heck of an accomplishment for a young lady her age and well worth a listen on your part.

The other newish album I've been listening to lately is from Dublin's The Thrills, titled So Much For The City. Even though they're from Auld Eire, they have an affinity for Americana, in the Van Dyke Parks/Beach Boys circa 68/Monkees/Byrds/Neil Young tradition and their debut album is full of it- every song cobbled together from this group or another. And fortunately, these fellows know how to borrow with style. Every song is listenable and often very clever and tuneful- for example, the song "Old Friends, New Lovers" borrows liberally from Nilsson and the Midnight Cowboy soundtrack, and opener "Santa Cruz" sounds like the Old 97's performing songs from Parks & Brian Wilson's Orange Crate Art collaboration of a few years ago. Not a bad album overall, but I'd like to hear a bit less creative borrowing next time and a little more originality before I become an acolyte.

Finally, I really like the song from that ESPN commercial, in which the Black Eyed Peas redo their "Let's Get Retarded" into a more PC-friendly "Lets Get It Started". Catchy as hell, it is.

More later, hopefully.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

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Here's a snapshot of the page from Thriller#5 I got the other day. It's a bit fuzzy because there's a vellum overlay on it, where they used a special red (as I recall) for a couple of effects. I don't have my comics here at home so I can't check it out. Anyway, I'll try to scan it one of these days.
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What I bought and what I thought, week of April 21

Detractors will no doubt find more of what bugs them in this issue: lots of talk talk talk, panel after panel of nothing but dark, static, passive art, and for chrissakes nobody dresses up in spandex and throws a punch until the very end! What's a fanboy to do? Well, for starters realize that this is the thinking man's Marvel comic, and the usual rules don't apply...and then appreciate another issue of this smart, sharp, and deeply resonant superhero drama for what it is, and not what conventional "wisdom" says it should be. And, yes, there are some disappointing, but hardly out of character, sexist remarks on the part of Luke Cage, but I've heard and read worse, believe me...and the wary-yet-easy relationship between Cage and our protagonist is one of the most interesting things in this particular issue. I think we should appreciate Bendis' remarkable Daredevil while we can...I'm pretty sure, given the direction Marvel seems to be headed in, he'll be throwing his billy club at the Mandrill and wearing armored shoulder pads again soon enough. A

This title keeps getting better and better, thank goodness, as Kirkman and Moore tug on the heart strings a little, then throw a curveball right at you with a sudden and shocking death that I frankly didn't see coming, and makes the objections I had about the supposed spoilers I saw in the previews of the first Charlie Adlard-illo'ed issue completely irrelevant. It's pretty much established that this title's more about the people than it is about the zombies, kinda like if we really got to know Duane Jones and the people in that house in Night of the Living Dead...and that's OK by far as I'm concened the main appeal is finding out what the heck they're gonna do next. These people are in deep shit, and I don't see a way out for any of them. A

The focus is still on Mazikeen, Elaine Belloc and company, but this one is a lot better because of a newish character they encounter and the resultant spanner that Maz & EB may throw in the works, plus the introduction of another unexpected character at the very end. And just in case we forget who the title character is, we get a brief but interesting interlude which maps out the problem that they all will face in upcoming issues. A solid chapter. A-

All the intriguing ideas presented in issue 1 are developed further in issue 2, and this is promising to be an interesting, imaginative series. Mike Huddleston's art jumps from style to style all over the place, and it's to his credit that he can keep it all consistent. Nice cover, too. I wish I could say more, but I get the feeling that Deep Sleeper's just getting started, and I don't have a good feel for where it's going just yet. A-

All the usual objections apply once again, but after all is said and done Pete Milligan's crafed a nice little thriller here in the last three issues. The ending, once again, threw me for a loop (I think the underlying theme of my comics reading this week was "I didn't see the ending coming"), but all the dramatics ring true, and the action (such as there was) was fast-paced and worked well. As unexpected as this ending was, however, it was equally as unsatisfying- and while I realize life's like that sometimes I still feel that it kinda invalidated everything that set it up. Oh well. Cliff Chiang has made a believer out of me with an outstanding art job, the best I've seen from him yet. So why am I not more enthusiastic about this otherwise fine comics series? Don't know...but I hope to figure it out in the next few issues. A-

Pretty good week for comics, all things considered.

I also got the Love Fights trade, but I'm waiting until next weekend, when my shop has a storewide 25% off sale, to pick it up. Heh heh.

Friday, April 23, 2004

Over at Susan's, I found a link to a website with a feature on a toy that I had when I was, oh, 8 or 9: Ka-Bala, "The Mysterious Game That Fortells The Future!".

That game was a perfect example of the tactics that the insidious covert agenda of the forces of evil used to foster interest in the occult in children of my generation, thereby helping, in a small but no less significant way, to bring about the excesses of the 60s, 70s and 80s and fomenting the moral decay and sinful degradation so prevalent today in our society.

Actually, all seriousness aside, this goofball glow-in-the-dark toy fostered in me a lifelong fascination with the imagery associated with the Tarot deck. So check it out for yo'self.
I'm sure many of you are aware of this already, because news travels fast in the ol' comics blogosphereiverse, but Johanna Draper Carlson of Comics Worth Reading fame has started her own blog, with its high-falutin' title of "Cognitive Dissonance" and it promises to be a good 'un.

As soon as I can sit down at a PC (still have that summabitchin' template-Mac-IE5 problem with Blogger), I shall provide a link, surely and swiftly. This....THE JACKAL SWEARS!
Rodrigo Baeza points us to a revealing interview with Stan Lee, in which he (Unca Stan, not Rodrigo) makes a few remarks about Jack Kirby which do not dispute any of my long-held beliefs about who did what.

Again, Neilalien was where I saw it foist.
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Back on the 10th, my family on my Mom's side got together for an Easter lunch, and my grandson, along with my cousin's young son, sat for several minutes (a long time for those two), watching a new-to-me cartoon on Nickelodeon, a super-hero/sci-fi-ish thing called Danny Phantom. So, naturally, I said "Move over, kids" and watched several episodes in what was apparently a marathon that afternoon. And you know- it's hardly the most original thing to come down the pike, but it was energetic and fun and wasn't written down to kids (in other words, the grownups can appreciate it too), and I kinda enjoyed it. The animation was of the style that's currently all the rage in TV animation these days, which is that Powerpuff-Kim Possible-FairlyOddParents-Samurai Jack semi-retro semi-anime look, and frankly, that's OK with me...I'd reather see a thousand cartoons like this than any of that barely-animated 70s Hanna-Barbera style junk we got for so long. Unless it's Sealab 2021...that's a whole 'nother cup of gravy. With a hair in it.

Pop quiz: where'd that reference come from?

Anyway, I dug it. And I'll watch it again. And you might want to, as well- what the heck!

Also on the animation tip (ooh-"tip"! I'm so with-it!), I see where there will be a new Mucha Lucha! tonight on Cartoon Network. ML! was my favorite new cartoon last year, and while I was happy to see it find a new home on CN, I figured there would be no new episodes. Glad to see I was wrong!
Interesting- apparently Dark Horse wasn't prepared for the reaction to the Hellboy movie, and people are going to bookstores and are leaving empty-handed.

I've done my share of bitching and complaining about my comics shop lately, but I will say this for them- they had a nice Hellboy display, stocked with multiple copies of all the trades and available single issues. I haven't asked how sales are- I'll try to remember to do that Wednesday.

First spotted this at Neilalien's, BTW.
Busy busy busy lately, and haven't had a lot of time to write. Hell, haven't even been able to formulate many thoughts to translate to words! I do have some news, though- my long-awaited package from Thriller artist Trevor Von Eeden arrived yesterday, and man was it a nice one!

Last summer, in response to my query about Thriller original art, Trevor told me that he thought he knew where some pages from that much-revered-by-me failed masterpiece were, and he would check in on it. He later found them in the posession of none other than Dick Giordano, and arranged through his art dealer to buy some. He cut me a sweet deal on a page, and I sent him payment. Actually getting the page proved to be a bit problematic (for various reasons) plus Trevor was working on an all-new original piece for me as well, so he wanted to send it at the same time. Then he decided to start school, and as we all know that kinda takes priority in your life (if you do it right, that is), so time went by, with the occasional apologetic phone call or email from TVE, until everything finally got sent a few days ago. Of course, I was more than happy to let him take his time, and I wasn't worried about it...but the anticipation was definitely there. I am pleased to report that it was worth the wait. In addition to the page of original art, which was page 7 from Thriller 5, a wonderful scene with Tony Salvotini and his Mom, in which she uses her newfound coercion powers to induce Salvo to eat two helpings of pasta, the new piece, a poster-size group shot of Thriller's Seven Seconds, was outstanding as well. I'll try to scan it and post it soon. He also sent along a Xeroxed copy of a commissioned piece that he did a few years ago for a movie producer, he said, of Batman and the Thriller awesome piece. Plus, he also enclosed the November 2003 issue of Heavy Metal, which contained his most recent published pre-college work. I have wanted, for nigh 20 years, an original Thriller page, and now I have one. I am enormously geeked about it. Thriller is one of my all-time, if not my absolute all-time, favorite comics series, and to possess a small, material part of it is wonderful.

Trevor has been unbelieveably generous and kind, and I'll never be able to adequately express my gratitude for all he's done for me. He's a class act and a great guy.

I have got to get started re-doing my Thriller web page...

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Former Pogues singer Shane McGowan was assaulted in a pub Monday. And this is news because...?
Hello, boys and girls, how's it going? I'd love to be filling your heads with bloggy goodness, but I got nothin'. More so than usual, even. Or to be more precise nothin' that others haven't already posted and posted better, including that f**king c*cks*cker Ken's excellent review of Johnny Dynamite, in which he said everything I meant to, and said it much better to boot, or at least better than I would have said it if it had occurred to me to say those things. Or something like that. Anyway, gosh darn it, everybody else is updating, so I'm gonna post something, and hope that my drunken crack whore muse returns long enough to whack me upside the head with her bottle of Night Train.

I was sorry to read about the demise of Four Color Hell, which I participated in there towards the end, but it seems like no one else but Bill Sherman cared to post anything there after its relaunch so I stopped too. It had become a magnet for spam bloggers, so I'm not surprised Michele decided to knock it in the head. If she's reading this, I sincerely thank her for the opportunity, and it's a shame it didn't fly. The idea was a sound one.

Got an email from Jill Sobule (well, not a personal one-I'm on her mailing list) in which she lets us know that her new album is recorded, and gives us the opportunity to preview the tracks and vote for our favorites. I'd post a link, but the email was read through my Outlook Express at home, and I can't get it here at work. Fie. I'll try to get that link posted later.

Watched parts of VH1's Divas 2004 special last night, in between innings of the Braves-Reds ballgame. I was a bit surprised to find myself tapping my foot to the new Blondie song, which was pretty darn catchy and rocked a bit too. The guys (and Debbie, too) didn't look all that comfortable on the humongous Vegas-style stage. Caught enough of the Patti LaBelle-Cyndi Lauper wail-a-thon to know I didn't want to expose myself to that...I love Cyndi, heaven knows, but I've never had any use for LaBelle (although I like me some Nona Hendryx) I kept managing to catch some young singer, who had long wavy brownish hair sing several times-a forgettable bluesy-poppish thing and duets with Gladys Knight (still in fine voice) and Debbie Harry (on "One Way or Another") as well. Oh. I went to VH1 and saw the lineup- it was "Young British Soul Thrush" Joss Stone, who kinda comes across as a cross between Michelle Branch, Sheryl Crow and Janis and does, all snark aside, have a fine voice. She's not too hard on the eyes either. But is it me or does every so often one of these wannabe Janises come along? Nikka Costa, we hardly knew ye. Also saw Jessica Simpson, who looked like a Barbie doll come to life wailing in that patented Mariah style, tottering around the circular stage in high heels. That's about it, although I might try to tune in again to catch Lauper's set.

All right, that's all I got for now. Hopefully more later, but I wouldn't hold my breath if I were you.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

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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

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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 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 here's a funny page on 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 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.
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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.
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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'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...
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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) 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.