Friday, April 29, 2005

It's been another light week from me, I know. Lotsa plates spinning right now, I'm afraid, and little time or energy to bloginate. Heck, I haven't even gone to the comics shop to buy new books yet! But fear not- I'm off work all weekend, and I hope to make a little bloghay before Tuesday. I also plan to buy my new comics tomorrow- since I didn't make it Wednesday, I decided to wait until Saturday, when they'll be having a storewide 25% off sale. Hee hee. Why they're not doing this on Free Comic Book Day I don't know, but who am I to question?

I also plan to get my mix CDs burned and sent out on Monday, God willing.

That's all I got for now. Time to stare at the TV for the rest of the night.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

I have completed my Mix CD tracklist for "Lefty" Brown's Mixed Bag, and if you declined to participate, but are still curious about what I put on it, please go visit my LJ where I have posted my list, with comments!

If you're a participant, you can go too- but only if you don't want to be surprised!

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Good news: The shiny new trailer for Serenity is up, and it looks like it's gonna be great.

Bad news: The text in the trailer informs us that there are "Six rebels on the run", however, in the shot early on in the pilot's area of Serenity there are seven people shown. Even worse, Shepherd Book (Ron Glass), arguably one of the most interesting characters on the whole show, is nowhere to be found, even though his name is in the credits at IMDb.

Anyway, check it out if you haven't already. But Book better be in there.
Image Hosted by"It's filler, filler night..."

Well, you knew somebody was gonna use that joke eventually, so why not me?

Anyway, the latest offering from AiT/PlanetLar is called FILLER, and it's a noirish tale of a fellow named John Dough (ouch) who passes the time and makes a living by standing in police lineups, selling plasma, and generally plugging up one of the many cracks in the cold, hard city. Then, one evening his life changes forever when he encounters a hooker with a black widow spider tattooed on her belly. Of course, the most obvious comparison to make, especially at this moment in time, is that this is just a knockoff of Sin City or even 100 Bullets- but that's both true and not true. Sure, this occupies the same territory, but writer Rick Spears and artist Rob (Couriers) G don't give us the pervasive cynical negativism that Frank Miller brings to nearly everything he does, and that's a big plus for me. Still, John's situation ends up reminding us of Marv and Goldie, and the events depicted certainly do follow that bloody-noir template.

Story-wise, Spears does pretty well with dialogue, and he doesn't succumb to the temptation of trying to give us that standard overheated Spillane-ish narration. Everything is pretty much to the point, and I liked that. Even though the story itself isn't the freshest thing in the world, it only gets a little out-of-control at the end (I'm sorry, but any plan that involves self-mutilation is just not a viable option) and is exactly one page too long. And that last page is the biggest problem I had- the events it suggests are unclear, and in attempting to give us a clever little twist at the end, takes a character that we'd only known for a couple of pages and expects us to find whatever scam he pulled off amusing, but unfortunately it just comes off confusing and unnecessary.

I was most impressed with Rob G's art here- he goes for a less detailed and more reckless style here, sloppily inked (reminsicent of Steven Guadiano over Mike Lark on Gotham Central) and using spot color a la Miller (but more liberally), and damned if he doesn't pull it off for the most part. Of course, his figure drawings are still sometimes amateurish and awkward, but not so much that it becomes an annoyance, and I am happy to see that he's finally made himself lay off the Photoshop "blur" filter. This less refined approach serves this type of story very well, and I was drawn in because of it. All in all, the best job I've seen yet from Mister G.

From the description, I was kinda expecting Zelig meets Sin City, but that turns out to not be the case. Filler is an enjoyable- if not especially innovative or fresh- down-on-his-luck-lug-meets-hooker-with-a-heart-of-tarnished-gold tale that is a good read despite the tacked-on epilogue. Won't knock your socks off, but is worth a look just the same.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Diamond shipping list time, let's see what I'll be getting:


and hopefully, LIVEWIRES #3, whichI didn't get last week. As always, any week with Sleeper and the Losers is a good one.

Also, in a completely unrelated subject, ADD is running a Project: Superior contest over at Comic Book Galaxy, and all ya gotta do is break him off an email. Think I'll enter myself, even though I'm strongly thinking about getting that book next time my shop has a 25% off sale (probably on Free Comic Book Day).

And in the better late than never category, if you shoot him an email THIS VERY MINUTE, you could probably get in on the big Lefty's Corner CD exchange project! But don't wait too long, the cutoff time is 7 eastern, 6 central if I read it correctly.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

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What I bought and what I thought, week of April 20

100 BULLETS 60
More players, many of which we haven't seen for quite some time now, converge on Miami for more Minutemen/Trust hijinx- and things don't look so good for one of them right off the bat. Myself, I hope he makes it because I kinda liked that character, Mr. Branch, who's been living in exile in Paris for some time now since running afoul of the Trust. Or was it the Minutemen? That's really the only problem I have with this series- sometimes it's a challenge to tell the players without a scorecard, and I don't always have my earlier issues on hand to refer to and refresh my memory. I've read where some will accumulate several issues in a row and read them like that, which makes sense but I'm an impatient sort. Anyway, none of this is Azzurello's problem- he seems to have gotten his second wind and things are really humming right now. And, as always, artist Ed Risso is amazing. This time out, he throws in a whole bunch of cameos by people that I don't recognize...but they look like someone beside generic comic book bystanders which is puzzling but not bothersome. A

Once again, we have The Grant in straightforward storytelling mode, where he sets up the characters and the situation...and while I don't exactly remember the backstory Jack Kirby gave his witchboy way back in 1973, I don't think he would have been too upset by what he's given us. As with We3, Grant steps back and lets his artist show his stuff, and while the Corbenisms of Frazer Irving aren't quite as complimentary as Frank Quitely is, he still does a fine job of showing us Klarion's dank, gloomy world and conveys his fey sense of detached menace very well. I especially got a kick out of the doe-eyed insouciance on page eight, panel four. I think we can all agree that Morrison and Co. are giving us a lot more bang for our bucks, and doing it with a whole lot less angst and hype, than his associates who are busy dragging the rest of the company through the mud. A-

Which is a nice segue, I suppose, to this- by far the biggest victim of the new "Death Wish" DC Comics' approach to superheroics. If you clear your mind and deliberately forget all the Identity Fiasco bullshit, you can have a good time with this. It's just as breezy and fun as the old series was when it was in full vigor- and the Guy Gardner-Power Girl scenes were a hoot. In fact, this issue is probably the most enjoyable one yet, with another great job by the Maguire/Rubenstein team, especially in their portrayal of Etrigan and his little corner of Hell. But my biggest problem is that I can't get all the Identity Fiasco bullshit out of my mind, and I'll bet you can't either. A-

Jill Presto finally has her baby, as the forces of the Lilim hook up with a bunch of renegade angels for one big assault on the gates of the Jehovah-less Heaven...and we don't get to see the titular character until the very last page. Which is not necessarily a problem per se...but I buy this comic because I'm interested in Mike Carey's take on Gaiman's Lucifer Morningstar character, and not all his supporting cast who are not an especially charismatic lot, compared to him. Oh well. Right now, Lucifer is one of those titles, and we all have them, that I've invested a lot of time and interest in, and know that it will eventually come to an end at a predetermined time, and am reasonably intrigued at all the storylines involving all these characters, some of which I like more than others-so I'm enjoying it just enough to stay interested in how it all turns out. It's kinda late to bail now, even if I wanted to. Whether or not this is a good thing I'll leave up to you. B+

Hoo boy, I don't know what to think about this. Everything gets resolved, and credibility remains unstrained, but geez Louise, does this require a lot of talking and shouting and explaining to the reader, and some nice character stuff at the end involving the Q, Superman and Lois doesn't quite compensate for the rambling, ramshackle finale we get before. The way I understand it, this was originally intended to be one of a group of miniseries involving the satellite characters in the current Superman storylines, and editorial complications made this unworkable, and that's why this seems (to me, anyway) Frankensteined together with a lot of stitches showing. Whichis not to say that this is Tommy Lee Edwards' fault... he's done a spectacular job of illustrating all these goings-on. Wish he could be consigned to do a regular title. Anyway, this was good, not great, the changes Veitch made to the character didn't bother me all that much- but if we should get a sequel, and Edwards doesn't draw it, I won't buy. Guess we should all be glad that someone didn't decide to put a bullet in Vic Sage's head. B+

Amusing first story, which features Buddy Bradley, no big surprise there. Can't figure out, like Lisa, why he wanted to sport the Popeye look, since Popeye didn't have an eyepatch, but it was amusing just the same. Next up is a text feature with illos that would probably have been more interesting if I had ever lived in Seattle. Bagge sounds cranky and judgmental here, and I didn't dig it. Then we get reprinted Bat Boy strips from the Weekly World News, which I had already read- yes, that's right, first thing I do when standing in line at the grocery is grab the latest WWN and look for "Bat Boy". One gets the funniest looks when he laughs out loud. Anyway, those strips are fun, but are way too reliant on topical and celebrity jokes which date quickly and don't always hit home, and eventually read like a bad Saturday Night Live sketch. I was kinda hoping Fantagraphics might put all these out in their own trade collection, but I guess this is the next best thing. Finally, we get a "Lovey" strip which isn't especially funny, but is at least brief so that's a virtue. I'm beginning to get a little disenchanted with our boy Pete...his Buddy Bradley stories are still entertaining, but his recent work for Marvel and DC was just bland and hokey, and while his Reason strips have been at least interesting, they're rarely anything to get excited about. He's beginning to remind me of Dale Murphy a bit- the former Atlanta Braves slugger who was as good as it got for a good ten year span, but when he lost it, he lost it fast and never got it back...struggling for almost five years before giving it up for good. I'm not saying that Bagge should give it up, but I really wish he could get his mojo back somehow. C+

MIA: LIVEWIRES 3. Hopefully it will drag its sorry ass in next week.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

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No comics reviews tonight, and it's all Robert Mitchum's fault. Well, Kirk Douglas shares the blame, too. I just finished watching the great 1947 noir Out of the Past, in which private detective Mitchum gets hired by crooked gambler Douglas to find his girlfriend, who shot him in the stomach and ran off to points south with $40,000 of his money. Of course, she's drop-dead gorgeous and of course Mitchum, like all good noir saps, falls in love with her. He cooks up a plan to throw Douglas off the trail so they could escape, but it all goes south and Mitchum gets away from the whole thing by taking up residence in a small California town, running a gas station. Unfortunately, Douglas' right hand man finds him and has him brought back, to do some dirty work for him and serve as his patsy. And, of course complications ensue before the downbeat ending.

This is justifiably hailed as a classic, and arguably as the best noir film of them all, and I can't argue with either assertion- even though as a film genre, noir just doesn't excite me as it does many others. There's only so much you can do with the dame, the dick, the criminal, and the night-dark rainy city streets- and this limited palette just doesn't yank my crank generally. But I still enjoyed this for its many strengths- Mitchum, in one of his signature tough-guy soft-heart roles; Douglas, slick, sharp and mean, and Jane Greer as the femme fatale who just can't be trusted. Lots of witty dialogue and one-liners, and the photography was beautiful- especially the scenes that took place out in the mountains where Mitchum's character liked to fish.

If this sounds a little familiar, you're probably remembering 1984's Against All Odds, the Miami Vice-d remake of this film which had its moments, none less than the great (but brief) cameo by Kid Creole and the Coconuts in their mid-80's "Tropical Gangsta" glory. I had never seen OotP, though, and I'm glad I got the's a small slice of cinema history. Funny thing- I kept flashing on several of Will Eisner's Spirit stories, especially one which (to the best of my recollection) was kinda based on this, in which the Spirit goes looking for Sand Saref or one of Eisner's many female protagonists on a tropical island and a hurricane strikes. It's amazing how Eisner channeled all this cinema noir stuff to use in his stories.

No time to finish new comics reviews, though. I'll try to get them done tomorrow.
Well hello there! No, I'm not dead, nor have I stopped blogging. Sorry to disappoint. But I've been spinning a lot of plates lately, and just haven't been able to summon up the ol' blogging mojo. Baby. The blogforce has not been strong within me lately. Between job interviews and the incessant waiting for one to make their decision, to the usual do-nothing-Monday-thru-Wednesday-then-pile-everything-on-us-on-Thursday-and-Friday workflow we have in place here at the Snooze, money woes, family issues, et cetera, et's been wearying. And when Dave is weary, not much bloggage issues forth. Rest assured that I have indeed been reading, listening, and watching as much if not more than usual (when one is weary, one tends to stare at the tube for hours on end), and I'll try to get around to writing about some of it ASAP. I've got comics reviews coming later today, after I get home from work and watch the NFL draft for a while. Atlanta picks #27.

TV? I've been loving recent episodes of Deadwood...they've been Machiavellian in their multiple twists and turns and amazing character development. I've kinda-sorta been watching Gray's Anatomy, to see the sexy Sandra Oh. I don't generally care for medical shows as a rule, but this one is watchable, even when Oh's not onscreen. To change gears slightly, Avatar, The Last Airbender has been outstanding- lots of nice character stuff and action there, even though it's written for pre-and-now-teens.

Movies? Well, I haven't watched very many at all, especially new-to-me ones. I'd love to rent House of Flying Daggers, but I really can't afford to visit Blockbuster right now. I miss Netflix, but hell, I can't afford that either which is why I dropped it. I sat through Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind last night, and liked it more this time than when I watched it initially. Perhaps knowing more about the story the second time around helped. I will say this- Jim Carrey (and I never thought I'd type these words) was great. Hell of a performance.

Comics? You'll see.

May I deliver a quick shot before I'm done? My respect for Alan David Doane knows no bounds, and when he says "look", I look nine times out of ten. But I disagree with his dismissive take on Flight. Sometimes it's OK for stories not to be heavily laden with substance and significance, especially when they're rendered with (in most cases) a wealth of visual elan. Perhaps it's my admitted bias towards the visual at the expense of the cerebral, who knows, and he's certainly entitled to his opinion- but I feel he has underrated these collections.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usGot my copy of Flight Volume Two from DCBS today, and while I haven't finished it yet, it's a very impressive collection. Many of the Vol.1 contributors are back, specifically Pants Pressers Vera Brosgol (her story's excellent, but I wish there had been more), Jen Wang (beautiful job- her art reminds me so much of Marc Hempel, but with a warmer feel), and a typically outstanding story from Clio Chiang, in her marvelously fluid and charming style. Hope Larson's story is AMAZING- so innovative and clever in its use of color and her imaginative layouts. As a baseball fan, I really liked Richard Pose's tale of a young Cuban boy who wants to play in the Major Leagues (despite a printing error-a page got bound in twice!). I'm not really prepared to go into more depth just yet (ooh, irony- "depth" in Flight!), but I have every intention of doing just that ASAP.

Seeing collections like these, and so much great art and storytelling both in print and on the web, is a double edged sword- I am, of course, fascinated and enjoy seeing it, but it also makes me feel a lot like Ryan Leaf must feel when he watches NFL games. Coulda-woulda-shoulda. Everybody: "Awwwww..."

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usOne other thing: at right is one of the coolest album covers I've seen in ages, the British version (apparently there was a different compilation in the US) of a 1970's collection of tracks by U.K. guitarists, called, appropriately enough, The Guitar Album. Click on the picture to see it in more detail. What a great idea- each axeman that appears on the album is drawn as ifthey appear on old-fashioned tobacco cards. If you'd like to know more, I'll refer you to the place where I first read about it: Brendan's.

Oh well, that's all I got for right now. Been a long day. Hopefully more tomorrow.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usFrom Marvel's July solicits:

Remember the Martian invasion of 2001? No? Not to worry, some of Marvel's top talents have preserved it for you! Relive the sequel to H.G. Wells's masterpiece as a sword-wielding slave leads a band of fearless freedom fighters against Earth's alien overlords! Featuring mutants, madmen, metal monsters and more! Guest-starring (who else?) Spider-Man! Free Earth! Collects AMAZING ADVENTURES (Vol. 2) #18-39, MARVEL TEAM-UP #45, MARVEL GRAPHIC NOVEL #7, and KILLRAVEN #1 (Marvel Knights).
ISBN: 0-7851-1777-6

Well, here it is. Even though I've already got every single issue that's reprinted here, I still think I'd like to have this. Mostly because those original issues of mine aren't getting any newer, y'know, and this way I could dig 'em out and read them more often, even though they'll be in black and white- hardly an improvement over yellowed pages and 1970s rubylith coloring flats.

This is a collection of the entire 70's Killraven opus, with Joe Linsner's better-than-I-expected one-shot tacked on to the end. At the beginning, you'll get the tentative Roy Thomas/Neal Adams/Gerry Conway/Howard Chaykin version which appeared in the first two issues, then they gave way to Marv Wolfman (who wrote every single comic published in the 1970's, I think) who in turn gave the disappointing, sales-wise title to unproven fan-turned-pro Don McGregor, and McGregor took the thing and ran with it. McGregor's style tended to be overwritten and florid; but one thing you couldn't deny about the man's work was that he had a distinctive, singular voice- and once you got accustomed to its rhythms it grabbed your brain with every hook and wouldn't let go. Because while it seemed that Mcgregor was in love with his own verbosity, the truth was that he loved each of his characters very much, and wanted to tell you so, along with every nuance of what each character was dealing with in the given situation. And that, in turn, caused me to feel a bond with his characters, and the way he described them and their world. So while there were certainly more than a few panels that were three-quarters captioned text and one-quarter art, it was OK because you knew what McGregor was trying to do. His first few issues were fine, illustrated by the steady, if unexceptional, Herb Trimpe, one especially (Grape)nutty story by Gene Colan and another by the team of Rich Buckler and Klaus Janson (there's that man again!)- but when one of Marvel's never-ending rotation of editors assigned P. Craig Russell, an artist with a rapidly developing, innovative style, to provide pictures, everything clicked and resulted in eleven issues (there were also a couple of issues inked by others, and a couple of fill-ins) of high adventure and imaginative drama, and mid-teenager me loved those books like few others. Of course, I'll freely admit that much of what went into these issues hasn't aged all that well- the costumes are very 70s, and those of a cynical bent can have a snarky field day with not only that but McGregor's hyperbolic prose. I well remember reading a rejected Warren Ellis proposal from the early 90s which intended to recast KR as a black-leather wearing, grim-and-gritty type because he regarded the original issues as campy. Glad that never got off the ground, but Alan Davis' recent miniseries did and while many liked it, for me it paled in comparison to the sheer chutzpah and verve of McGregor and Russell when they were hitting on all cylinders, instead giving us formulaic Mad Max-isms. And naturally, the proposed film will be based on Davis' mini, so I'm not looking forward. It's just as well- McGregor & Russell's take will always be the definitive one because it had heart and soul.

The series ended abruptly with issue #39; there was a one-shot Marvel Graphic Novel from the mid-80s which reteamed McGregor and Russell to tie up at least one long-running plot thread left from the regular series. It was fine, but also pointed out how much the two co-creators had grown and gone beyond comic-book sci-fi superheroics...more so Russell than McGregor. There was even the intention of letting them do another 12-issue series, in which they would wind up the saga of KR's battle against the forces of Mars once and for all, but the creators couldn't see eye-to-eye with the Shooter Regime, so it came to naught. What a shame.

Anyway, if you break down and pick this up when it comes out, remember what I've been trying to explain and keep an open mind- these stories are products of a different era and a different mindset than the comics of today. Let yourself get acquainted with KR, M'Shulla his "mud-brother", Old Skull, Volcana Ash, Mint Julep, and all the other bizarre denizens of McGregor's post-Martian occupation future, and you may be surprised.

Most of the rest of the solicits are given to Marvel's latest company-wide gimmick, "House of M"-does that sound like porn, or what?- which I intend to strenuously ignore. But a few titles stood out:

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usLooks like Giffen, Dematteis and Maguire are going to try to rekindle that Bwah-ha-ha over at the competition with their take on THE DEFENDERS in a five-issue mini. As you all know, I liked their JL-whatever, so I'll check this out for sure.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usLooks like more bwah-ha-ha here on the cover of MARVEL TEAM-UP #10. It makes me chuckle. But I won't be buying.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usAnother excellent James Jean cover from AMAZING FANTASY #10. I looked through #7 last Wednesday, but the interior art left me cold so I passed. I wish someone would issue a collection of Jean's cover art...

LIVEWIRES #6 is the final issue; I hope I'm still as interested in it by then as I am now.

I guess that's it- you know I'm not much of a Marvel reader, so this will be all I'd be interested in picking up, besides the usual Ultimates 2, Daredevil, and Powers.
100 BULLETS #60

Here's what I'll presumably be getting on Wednesday, per the new Diamond shipping list. In case you're interested.
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usI received one of my periodic "care packages" the other day from the most excellent Mr. Mark Anthony, and two of the CD's sent were the recent reissues of two David Bowie live albums, 1974's David Live and 1978's Stage...and I'm really digging the former a lot.

I used to have David Live on 8-track (I know, I know) as a teenager, and frankly didn't like it all. I wasn't down with Bowie's impending soul music leanings, and the sound of the album was muddy and dull. So, even though I eventually came to appreciate Bowie's R&B infatuation I never bought it on vinyl, nor did I get the CD when Rykodisc put out all their Bowie reissues in the early 90s. So it's been a while since I heard it, and I was pleasantly surprised. It's been remastered by original producer Tony Visconti (one of the many heroes behind most of Bowie's creative successes), the accompaniment (especially the bass) and BV's have been punched up, the original concert song sequence has been restored, and it makes a world of difference from what I remember back in the day. Most of the material is from Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane and Diamond Dogs- the tour started out as a highly theatrical presentation of the rock-ish Dogs album, but DB grew bored with it and more and more enamored of Philly-style soul music, so they took a break and came back as a different band all together. The conflicting approaches make for some interesting song textures, with lots of sax and some funkier rhythms throughout. The Diamond Dogs songs, in particular, benefit from this treatment; I've always thought that studio album sounded conflicted and patched-together, and these renditions are a little more cohesive to my ears.

Stage, on the other hand, is from four years later and features many of the groundbreaking songs DB recorded with Brian Eno and, you guessed it, Tony Visconti in the latter half of the 70s. It's much slicker and more polished, and suffers a bit for it despite some stellar backing by the likes of Adrian Belew and Todd Rundgren's Utopia keyboard guy Roger Powell. The band sprints through these songs in breakneck fashion, like they have a plane to catch, and it becomes wearing after a while. Still, it's not bad at all, especially for a live album.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

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What I bought and what I thought, week of April 13!

Is Thor a deluded ecoterrorist, who stole high tech gear and thinks he brother is his evil adversary Loki, out to cause global calamity? Nick Fury thinks so, and dispatches our less-than-likeable superteam along with the Captains to apprehend him, and a brutal throwdown ensues. Appropriately epic and weighty, typically well drawn by Bryan Hitch and Paul Neary with a lot of fine dramatics and action, unleavened by the snideness Millar often brings to his projects that aren't The Ultimates. It may very well be that this comic and its ilk are a major symptom of everything that's wrong with the industry these days, but for my part I am unmoved by these assertations when confronted by books as solid as this one is. A

Samuel L. Jackson is a busy fella these days. Not only is he appearing in at least three films a year, he's also got a thriving comic-book career going on as well- not only as Nick Fury in The Ultimates and Nathan Kane in Ocean, but now as Antoine Sharpe, an "independent contractor" who functions as a cross between Dana Scully, John Shaft and the Amazing Randi, a supernatural debunker who troubleshoots for the government (or the highest bidder) whenever extraordinary circumstances present themselves. Hitman's John McCrea doesn't draw him to look exactly like Sam Jack, but the attitude and vibe is definitely there. And while this is very X-Filesish, I liked this character, who's a no-nonsense brotha with abnormally good "perception" ability...and the situation we're given for him to deal with is a clever enough one, in which spirits of the dead possess the living and converge on Winnipeg, Canada- and one just happens to be a launch control commander at a Minuteman missle silo in Wyoming. Tight script by Phil Hester, if a little talky, and McCrea does a fine job although his work here looks less detailed and more rushed than his Hitman days. A good beginning, and I'm hoping it gets better from here. A-

I read somewhere where this was compared to an old-time cliffhanger movie serial, and that's certainly appropriate. Many ongoing series are paced that way, but they don't all deliver the goods, and so far Diggle and Ferry have done it with this series. After a lull of about an issue or so, this is picking up steam again with sharp characterization and rarely a dull moment, and I don't mind the "DC Space Stars on Parade" affection as long as they are worked into the story as neatly as the likes of Vril Dox and the Big Bad, "Starbreaker", a character I managed to miss when he appeared before. Maybe I've been equally negligent when it comes to Pascal Ferry's ink line, which appears to be sketchier and rougher than in issues past, almost giving it a not inappropriate Infantino-esque look. I don't really have any intention of following this to the next step of the Rann-Thanagar War series, but I've enjoyed this ride so far. A-

The unfortunate choice to recast old Flash bad guy Dr. Alchemy as Hannibal Lecter mars this otherwise fine continuation of the "Keystone Central" storyline. It's not that it's done poorly, it's just been done to death in a lot of different places and it's no fresher here for appearing in supervillain clothes. Still, the dramatics and dialogue are fine, and so is the art although I'm a bit disappointed in inker Kano for aping penciller Steve Gaudiano's sloppy style- I've seen him do much better in his stint on the late H-E-R-O. I guess that he was expected to maintain the "look", but it's a shame nonetheless. B+

Pretty solid denouement of the whole "Murder of the Blackguard" storyline, with Calista's (the new Retro Girl, apparently) participation an exciting highlight. Bogs down a bit after that, with a low-key and talky confession scene, then we get a somewhat surprising cliffhanger at the end. Another solid chapter in what I still maintain is Bendis' best ongoing. B+

We get a whole issue of the Black Knight neé Boy Blue snicker-snacking his way through hosts of the Adversary's best orcs, I mean goblins and trolls, with his straight-outta-Carroll Vorpal sword to confront the adversary and perhaps learn the fate of Red Riding Hood. Yeah, it sounds silly, I know- but it's quite involving if you've been with the book this far. I spend a fair amount of time criticizing artists Mark Buckingham and Steve Leialoha, but I thought they did a fine job here, with some clever page layouts and even a Kirbyesque pose here or there. Good beginning to a promising arc, and what more could we ask? B+

Bob Burden still hasn't shaken off the rust- this is clunky as all get out more often as not, and his art hasn't gotten any better in the last 20-something years. But I still got laughs from page one on, and it slowly builds up a head of steam to the point where there was a nice flow of free-form insanity about the time we got to the two-headed princess performing Shakespeare with our hero. Not quite there yet, but damn close. Or is this just my rose-colored memories telling me that FC was better back in the day? B
Well, it's been a week now since I saw Sin City, and in the spirit of better late than never, here's my take.

Actually, let me preface this by recounting my impressions of Frank Miller and his work. I was right there, back in the day, when Frank Miller came along and breathed fresh air into the stale and boring Daredevil title. After years of "villain of the month" blandness, suddenly we had something vital, something different for, especially for a Marvel book. Even though, thinking back on those books (which I no longer own, sad to say) years later, I remember that I thought Miller's figure drawing was often awkward and clumsy-looking, and wasn't helped a bit by the inks of Klaus Janson, who might just by my least favorite inker the stories often read like superhero soap operatics as written by Mickey Spillane. Still, those comics left you with the impression that something worthwhile was actually happening...that there was gravity to these events, and cause-and-effect. It got a lot better when he later returned to DD with Dave Mazzuchelli, an artist whose infrequent work I loved at first sight. Ronin was Miller stretching out a bit, but I think his reach exceeded his grasp and it was a jumbled mess, mostly forgotten now. Then of course, there was the series with which he really made his rep, The Dark Knight Returns, which pretty much set the tone for everything he's done since. I liked DKR, thought it was clever and involving if heavy-handed and cynical, and innovatively drawn despite Janson's hamfisted inks. Which brings us to Sin City the comics series (I know, I've left out a couple of things), which I was a little late in picking up on. I started getting SC with the "Yellow Bastard" arc; at first I just wasn't interested. In all the samples I'd seen and the few times I'd picked up a copy of the first three limited series, it simply looked like Miller was coasting; minimal scripting with a surfeit of one-page splashes and a veritable ocean of black ink, and a very nasty and cynical tone. Plus, I just wasn't interested in the Noir genre that was its inspiration. However, by the time of Bastard, I had begun to get a bit curious after reading praise in different places so I took the plunge and did get caught up in Detective Hartigan's quest to protect Nancy Callahan, and the struggle with a truly loathsome adversary. Yeah, the tone was glum and cynical as could be, but for me it worked on a soap opera-style level. After that, I went back and picked up issues I had missed, along with the trade that collected the first series, and had pretty much the same reaction- despite the tone, I liked the concepts and characters that he had come up with to populate his City, but after a while the bleakness became wearing and the most recent SC limited series, "Hell and Back" was a grotesque mess, so I had pretty much decided to pass on any further issues in the series. Then, we got the movie.

And you know what? Sin City the movie pretty much left me with the same feeling, after I'd watched it, that the comics did- I was engaged by the sheer visual spectacle of it all, as I am with Miller's SC comic book art, which I find interesting in its extreme use of lights and darks and its composition...but after a while the brutality and cynicism became wearing and I wasn't unhappy when it was finally over. They do a great job of reproducing the comics visuals, sometimes to great effect in many instances, but sometimes it was also unintentionally funny in situations where you have cop cars literally jumping over roads or when a man jumps out of a window that seems to be at least five stories up, and lands on his feet, then bounds into a car. Some of the BDSM gear and hairstyles that the Deadly Hooker Revenge Squad were sporting (especially Rosario Dawson) just screamed 1985. At times, it's almost like watching a Roadrunner cartoon, when Marv takes clip after clip, gets hit by cars, and other assorted calamities and just needs a bunch of whited-out band-aids, or the weird silent assassin, played by Elijah Wood, gets dismembered and never screams. Stuff like this, for some reason, I can tolerate (but not all the time) in a comic...but having it shown to us in moving pictures really points out how preposterous it all is. And if I recall correctly, those old Film Noir classics of old always had their feet firmly placed on the rainy concrete sidewalks of reality. Miller's script is a mile wide and an inch deep; it's Spillane as written by a unusually intelligent 12-year-old. I'm not asking for or expecting Charlie Kaufman, mind you; but if you, like me, enjoy a little wit or subtlety in your film scripts you will be sadly disappointed. This movie is big, loud and dumb as they come.

But y'know what? Even after all that I've said, I was still entertained, visually, if not mentally. Given the fact that they're all asked to play cardboard cutouts, the actors give fine performances. Bruce Willis gives a typical low key Willis performance, Mickey Rourke plays Marv well, with a jaundiced sense of humor, under a ton of makeup, and Brittany Murphy gets to emote a little and doesn't blow it. Every one of these stories hinge on events which are compelling, no matter how far-fetched they get, and you can kinda turn off your brain and let the part of it which goes "Oooh, cool!" at explosions and fistfights and sexy girls have a blast. So to speak. And of course, again, it's visually incredible- director Robert Rodriguez manages to ape Miller's art style almost perfectly, a dubious achievement if there ever was one. Sin City is certainly an success, a new standard in comic book movies, and hopefully will lead to bigger and better things down the road- but taken on its own merits, it bludgeons you with gloom and blood and melodrama, is way too long, appeals to the baser side of people, and while I can't say that I would recommend it to just anybody, if you are disposed to be a fan of Miller, or crime noir, or brutality in general, you'll probably eat it up and ask for seconds.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Submitted for your approval, one of my favorite kids' books: 13 Ghosts by Dorothy Gladys Spicer. I'd link to something on the Net about it, but I couldn't find a gosh darn thing. So it's entirely possible that this may become the top referral for future searches for 13 Ghosts and Ms. Spicer. This would make a nice Halloween post, I guess, but I'm an impatient sort so here's a brief look at the book, with some illustrations. As always, click on the thumbnails to see a bigger image...

Anyway, this was one of several books that really grabbed me hard when I was in grade school; in fact, my copy is from that very same school library. When they moved the grade schools at Horse Cave and neighboring Cave City together, creating Caverna Elementary School in a nice new building back in 1973, they decided not to take every book from the two libraries, leaving those that were beat up or in not-so-great condition. One of the teachers remembered that I was fond of this one and a couple others, and put them aside for me and now I get to share with you!

Published in 1965 by Coward-McCann of New York, Ghosts is essentially a collection of supernatural folk tales from several different countries, including the Netherlands, Ireland, England, Russia and Japan, and is illustrated by someone named Sofia, about who I could find nothing on the Net, either. I seem to recall that she(?) is from Bulgaria, but I can't even verify that. Her "about the artist" section inside the book just says "SOFIA, who has illustrated many fine books for children (Oh yeah? Name some!), adds excitement and shivery fun to 13 Ghosts". Anyway, I've helpfully provided some scans of her interior art. Her work here is all in charcoal or pencil, and she has a loosey-goosey style that conjures an effective mood, even if sometimes her figure drawings are a bit off.

As you can probably gather from the title, there are 13 stories in this tome; what little info I could get about Spicer tells me that she apparently was a folklorist of some sort and published other collections like this with the "13" theme- 13 Goblins and the like. I've never had the pleasure of reading any of the others. The stories contained therein are "The Phantom Ship", kind of a Flying Dutchman tale from the Netherlands; "The Ghostly Hand of Spital House" (featuring a hand of glory), from England; "The Spider Specter of the Pool", from Japan; "Jack O'Leary's Plow", from Ireland; "The Hopping Lights of Devil's Hill", from the Netherlands, and one of my favorite stories about two ghosts that cause trouble in a small village; "The Weeping Lady of Llyn Glasfryn" a Welsh tale of a tragic young lady and a supernatural flood; "The Coffin That Moved Itself", again from Netherlands (lots of spooks over there, I guess); "Old Nanny's Ghost" (England); "The White Lady of Pumphul", about one of a number of ghostly apparitions- this one a weaving lady- that sometimes lead to treasure, again from Netherlands; "Vania and the Vampire", a corking good and somewhat creepy Vamp story from Russia; "The Black Bearded Brownies of Boneburg" (Netherlands, apparently the nexus of all supernatural activity); "Timothy and the Buggane Ghost", (Isle of Man), about a tailor and a monster in an old church- no idea what "buggane" is; and lastly "The Ghost Goblins' Gold", another Welsh tale about ghostly goblins. And gold.

I was about 6 or 7 when I first started reading this book, and I was already interested in tales of ghosts and monsters- this added fuel to the fire. I remember drawing characters from these stories, and trying to come up with variations on them of my own. Of course, looking at them now as a theoretical adult, I can see that they're written in a simple fashion, but Spicer's language is evocative and they still grab the imagination. As far as I can tell, this collection has been out of print for many years; I saw one or two copies on sale at eBay and places like that. I'm glad that I was able to get a copy- it's nice to refer to from time to time.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Late for the party as usual, I think I'll run through the Eisner Awards nominations, just in case somebody gives a damn what I think. List copied from The Beat. Merci, Heidi.

MASTER NOMINEE LIST, 2005 Eisner Awards

Best Short Story
"Eve O' Twins," by Craig Thompson, in Rosetta 2 (Alternative)
"Glenn Ganges: Jeepers Jacobs," by Kevin Huizenga, in Kramer's Ergot 5 (Gingko Press)
"God" (story on wrap-around dust jacket) by Chris Ware, in McSweeney's Quarterly #13 (McSweeney's)
"The Price," by Neil Gaiman and Michael Zulli, in Creatures of the Night (Dark Horse Books)
"Unfamiliar," by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson, in The Dark Horse Book of Witchcraft (Dark Horse Books)
"Where Monsters Dine," by Troy Hickman, Angel Medina, and Jon Holdredge, in Common Grounds #5 (Top Cow/Image)

Hate to say it, but the only one of these I've read is the Dorkin/Thompson Dark Horse Book of Witchcraft offering, and it was charming but slight. Maybe this isn't such a good idea...

Best Single Issue (or One-Shot)
Demo #7: "One Shot, Don't Miss," by Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan (AiT/Planet Lar)
Eightball #23: "The Death Ray," by Dan Clowes (Fantagraphics)
Ex Machina #1: "The Pilot," by Brian K. Vaughan, Tony Harris, and Tom Feister (WildStorm/DC)
Global Frequency #12: "Harpoon," by Warren Ellis and Gene Ha (WildStorm/DC)
The Goon #6: "Ilagarto Hombre!," by Eric Powell (Dark Horse)

I overrated Demo 7 at first, and consider it one of the lesser issues now, although I still think it was involving and well drawn. That Eightball story didn't impress me as much as it did some, but it was still excellent and is clearly the best in an inferior field. I didn't care for Ex Machina at all, and still marvel at how overrated Brian Vaughn's work is among fandom, in my opinion of course. That Global Frequency was fine, but the issue before it was better and there were others I would have chosen before #12. Perhaps it was the only one that came out in the past year, I forget. I don't read The Goon, although it looks interesting...I may take the plunge one of these days, but it just doesn't compel me and I can't really figure out why it was included on the list. Party crasher.

Best Serialized Story
Astonishing X-Men #1-6: "Gifted," by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday (Marvel)
Ex Machina #2-5: "State of Emergency," by Brian K. Vaughan, Tony Harris, and Tom Feister (WildStorm/DC)
Fables #19-27: "March of the Wooden Soldiers," by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, and Steve Leialoha (Vertigo/DC)
Planetary #19-20: "Mystery in Space/Rendezvous," by Warren Ellis and John Cassaday (WildStorm/DC)
Y: The Last Man #18-20: "Safeword," by Brian K. Vaughan, Pia Guerra, and José Marzan Jr. (Vertigo/DC)

About Vaughan, see my comments above. It completely befuddles me why he's receiving such praise and recognition. The Fables arc was fine, but nothing to get excited about, I was totally underwhelmed by Whedon's X-Men, and really, I thought that the nominated issues of Planetary were great, but not that great. I'm wondering- did the people that chose these draw names out of a hat?

Best Continuing Series
Astonishing X-Men, by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday (Marvel)
Ex Machina, by Brian K. Vaughan, Tony Harris, and Tom Feister (WildStorm/DC)
The Goon, by Eric Powell (Dark Horse)
Stray Bullets, by David Lapham (El Capitan)
Y: The Last Man, by Brian K. Vaughan, Pia Guerra, and José Marzan Jr. (Vertigo/DC)

No, no, maybe, don't know-haven't read, and hell no.

Best Limited Series
DC: The New Frontier, by Darwyn Cooke (DC)
Demo, by Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan (AiT/Planet Lar)
30 Days of Night: Return to Barrow, by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith (IDW)
WE3, by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely (Vertigo/DC)
Wanted, by Mark Millar and J. G. Jones (Top Cow/Image)

The inclusion of Wanted is a joke. I can understand the inclusion of New Frontier, but it was a flawed work most notable for the art. Demo was quality stuff and an interesting approach to storytelling, but to me it was so up-and-down I couldn't give it the nod. Haven't read 30 Days. But fortunately, there is a worthy nominee on this list: Grant Morrison's scary/amusing/touching We3. It should have been in stronger company, though.

Best New Series
Astonishing X-Men, by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday (Marvel)
Doc Frankenstein, by the Wachowski Brothers and Steve Scroce (Burlyman)
Ex Machina, by Brian K. Vaughan, Tony Harris, and Tom Feister (WildStorm/DC)
The Shaolin Cowboy, by Geof Darrow (Burlyman)

I liked Shaolin Cowboy, but by now I'm beginning to think these nominations are a late April Fool's joke.

Best Publication for a Younger Audience
Amelia Rules!, (Renaissance Press) and Amelia Rules! What Makes You Happy (iBooks) by Jimmy Gownley
Courtney Crumrin in the Twilight Kingdom, by Ted Naifeh (Oni)
Owly, by Andy Runton (Top Shelf)
Plastic Man, by Kyle Baker and Scott Morse (DC)
Tommysaurus Rex, by Doug TenNapel (Image)

Is it me, or does Plastic Man look odd here? It's juvenile, but that doesn't mean it's for kids. Still, it comes down to to series listed here that I liked a LOT: Owly and Courtney Crumrin, and I'd give Owly the nod since the CC story was just a hair less involving than its predecessors.

Best Humor Publication
Angry Youth Comix, by Johnny Ryan (Fantagraphics)
Birth of a Nation, by Aaron McGruder, Reginald Hudlin, and Kyle Baker (Crown)
The Goon, by Eric Powell (Dark Horse)
Kyle Baker, Cartoonist, by Kyle Baker (Kyle Baker Publishing)
Plastic Man, by Kyle Baker and Scott Morse (DC)

The only one of these I've read is, again, Plastic Man, but there's no way it deserves an award. Where's Scurvy Dogs?

Best Anthology
Common Grounds, by Troy Hickman and others, edited by Jim McLauchlin (Top Cow/Image)
The Dark Horse Book of Witchcraft, edited by Scott Allie (Dark Horse Books)
The Matrix Comics, vol. 2, edited by Spencer Lamm (Burlyman)
McSweeney's Quarterly #13, edited by Chris Ware (McSweeney's)
Michael Chabon Presents The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist, edited by Diana Schutz and David Land (Dark Horse)

The Dark Horse Book of Witchcraft is the only one of these I've read, so I'll have to defer criticism again. The DHBoW was a fine book, but I don't know if it deserves to win anything.

Best Digital Comic
Athena Voltaire, by Steve Bryant
Bento & Starchky, by zer0 (Peter Branting)
Copper, by Kazu
Jonny Crossbones, by Les McClaine
Mom's Cancer, by Brian Fies
ojingogo, by matt forsythe

Ive seen, but haven't read, Athena Voltaire, but am totally ignorant of the other again, I pass. Boy, some hotshot media pundit I am, huh!

Best Graphic Album-New
Blacksad Book 2: Arctic Nation, by Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido (iBooks)
It' a Bird . . ., by Steven T. Seagle and Teddy Kristiansen (Vertigo/DC)
The Originals, by Dave Gibbons (Vertigo/DC)
Suspended in Language, by Jim Ottaviani and Leland Purvis (GT Labs)
Tommysaurus Rex, by Doug TenNapel (Image)

Again, haven't sampled any of these. Gibbons' Originals looked good, but I couldn't afford it. Doug TenNapel is an artist whose work I've liked when I've seen it, so I'd like to check that one out. Don't have any desire whatsoever to read It's A Bird; I tolerated Seagle and Kristiansen on House of Secrets for the longest time, and it was OK, but they're not creators I'll go out of my way to keep up with.

Best Graphic Album/Reprint
Age of Bronze: Sacrifice, by Eric Shanower (Image)
Bone One Volume Edition, by Jeff Smith (Cartoon Books)
The Book of Ballads, by Charles Vess and others (Tor)
Clyde Fans, by Seth (Drawn & Quarterly)
In the Shadow of No Towers, by art spiegelman (Pantheon)
Locas, by Jaime Hernandez (Fantagraphics)

Uh...haven't read any of these either. I have read most of the Locas stories, by Jaime Hernandez, and liked them a lot, so I can't quibble with that nomination.

Best Archival Collection/Project
The Complete Cartoons of the New Yorker, edited by Robert Mankoff (Black Dog & Leventhal)
The Complete Peanuts, edited by Gary Groth (Fantagraphics)
DC Comics Rarities Archives, vol. 1, edited by Dale Crain (DC)
Krazy and Ignatz, edited by Bill Blackbeard and Derya Ataker (Fantagraphics)
Russ Manning's Magnus, Robot Fighter, vol. 1, edited by Katie Moody, Mike Carriglitto, and David Land (Dark Horse Books)

LOVE those Peanuts reprints, got them both (so far) for Christmas. haven't written about them, though. I have always enjoyed reading Krazy Kat whenever possible, but haven't read this particular collection. I'd love to have that Magnus collection; I read a ton of those as a kid. And so it goes.

Best U.S. Edition of Foreign Material
Barefoot Gen: A Cartoon Story of Hiroshima, vols. 1-2, by Keiji Nahazawa (Last Gasp)
Blacksad Book 2: Arctic Nation, by Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido (iBooks)
Buddha, vols. 3-4 by Osamu Tezuka (Vertical)
Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return, by Marjane Satrapi (Pantheon)
Tokyo Tribes, by Santa Inoue (TOKYOPOP)

Uh...pass. Don't know nuttin' about any of these. Well, I've heard of Tezuka and I've heard of Buddha, so there ya go.

Best Writer
Steve Niles, 30 Days of Night: Return to Barrow; 30Days of Night: Bloodsucker Tales; Aleister Arcane (IDW); Freaks of the Heartland; Last Train to Deadsville (Dark Horse)
Greg Rucka, Queen & Country (Oni); Gotham Central (DC)
Brian K. Vaughan, Y: The Last Man (Vertigo/DC); Ex Machina (WildStorm/DC); Runaways (Marvel)
Joss Whedon, Astonishing X-Men (Marvel)
Bill Willingham, Fables (Vertigo/DC)

I was extrememly unimpressed with Aleister Arcane. Rucka is fine, but Brubaker was the star of Gotham Central. Willingham has done some clever work on Fables, but I wouldn't exactly call it Eisnerworthy. You all know what I think about Vaughan, and regarding Whedon...only a few more months before Serenity! Right? This whole category, like most of them so far, is more notable for who's NOT there than who is...

Best Writer/Artist
Paul Chadwick, Concrete: The Human Dilemma (Dark Horse)
Dan Clowes, Eightball #23 (Fantagraphics)
David Lapham, Stray Bullets (El Capitan)
Stan Sakai, Usagi Yojimbo (Dark Horse)
Adrian Tomine, Optic Nerve #9 (Drawn & Quarterly)

Again, is this the best list they could come up with? Chadwick is adequate, nothing more, although his own characters like his work better than real people do; Clowes is brilliant, but hardly the best there is; Sakai is a steady, talented veteran, but is he really that much "better" than anybody else in the field? And I can't really comment on Tomine and Lapham, since I don't read their respective works. The samples I've seen have not been impressive, and I'm more interested in Lapham as a writer/artist than solely as an artist.

Best Writer/Artist-Humor
Kyle Baker, Plastic Man (DC); Kyle Baker, Cartoonist (Kyle Baker Publishing)
Phil Foglio, Girl Genius (Airship Entertainment)
Scott Kurtz, PvP (Image)
Eric Powell, The Goon (Dark Horse)
Johnny Ryan, Angry Youth Comix (Fantagraphics)

Baker sometimes elicits a chuckle in Plas. I don't read the other nominees, so I pass. I'm wondering by now- did someone submit an incomplete list for the panelists to choose from?

Best Penciller/Inker or Penciller/Inker Team
Charles Adlard, The Walking Dead (Image)
John Cassaday, Astonishing X-Men (Marvel); Planetary (WildStorm/DC); I Am Legion: The Dancing Faun (Humanoids/DC)
Geof Darrow, Shaolin Cowboy (Burlyman)
Cary Nord/Thomas Yeates, Conan (Dark Horse)
Frank Quitely, WE3 (Vertigo/DC)

For me this comes down to Cassaday vs. Quitely, and I'd have to give it to the Q for We3. Darrow does outstanding work in service of a slight story. Good to see Adlard get some recognition, although I think his best work last year was on Marvel's Warlock, for which he's not nominated.

Best Painter/Multimedia Artist (interior art)
Juanjo Guarnido, Blacksad, Book 2: Arctic Nation (iBooks)
Teddy Kristiansen, It's a Bird . . . (Vertigo/DC)
David Mack, Kabuki (Marvel)
Ben Templesmith, 30 Days of Night: Return to Barrow (IDW)
Michael Zulli, Creatures of the Night (Dark Horse Books)

Mack, I guess. Yawn.

Best Coloring
Peter Doherty, Shaolin Cowboy (Burlyman)
Steven Griffen, Hawaiian Dick: The Last Resort (Image)
Laura Martin, Astonishing X-Men (Marvel); Ministry of Space (Image); Planetary (WildStorm/DC); I Am Legion: The Dancing Faun (Humanoids/DC)
J. D. Mettler, Ex Machina (WildStorm/DC)
Dave Stewart, Daredevil, Ultimate X-Men, Ultimate Six, Captain America (Marvel); Conan, BPRD (Dark Horse)l DC: The New Frontier (DC)

Hm. As long as Lee Loughridge isn't on this list, I can live with it.

Best Lettering
Todd Klein, Promethea; Tom Strong; Tom Strong's Terrific Tales (ABC); Wonder Woman (DC); Books of Magick: Life During Wartime; Fables; WE3 (Vertigo/DC); Creatures of the Night (Dark Horse)
Stan Sakai, Usagi Yojimbo (Dark Horse)
Dave Sim, Cerebus (Aardvark Vanaheim)
Craig Thompson, Carnet de Voyage (Top Shelf); "Eve O'Twins" in Rosetta 2 (Alternative)

Dave Sim. In this category. Puh-leeze. Klein is probably the best there is these days, in this rapidly shrinking field. Has John Workman's name been permanently retired in a hall of fame or something?

Best Cover Artist
Kieron Dwyer, Remains (IDW)
James Jean, Fables (Vertigo/DC); Green Arrow, Batgirl (DC)
Tony Moore, The Walking Dead (Image)
Frank Quitely, Bite Club; WE3 (Vertigo/DC)
Michael Turner, Identity Crisis (DC)

Michael Turner. Jesus wept. The consistently excellent Jean gets my vote. Where's Dave Johnson?

Talent Deserving of Wider Recognition
Frank Cammuso (Max Hamm, Fairy Tale Detective)
Bosch Fawstin (Table for One)
Matt Kindt (Two Sisters; Pistolwhip)
Sean McKeever (A Waiting Place; Mary Jane; Inhumans; Sentinels)
Raina Telgemeier ("Smile," Takeout)

I am sadly unfamiliar with most of these (which is why they're probably nominated, come to think of it). I am familiar only with McKeever, and I fail to see why he's on this far I've found his work bland and unremarkable.

Best Comics-Related Periodical
Comic Art, edited by M. Todd Hignite (Comic Art)
Comic Book Artist, edited by Jon B. Cooke (Top Shelf)
Draw!, edited by Mike Manley (TwoMorrows)
Indy Magazine online (, edited by Bill Kartalopoulos (Alternative)

THE. COMICS. JOURNAL. Although Comic Book Artist isn't bad, and I wish I could afford to buy them all regularly.

Best Comics-Related Book
The Art of Usagi Yojimbo, by Stan Sakai (Dark Horse Books)
Chris Ware, by Daniel Raeburn (Monographics/Yale University Press)
Give Our Regards to the Atom Smashers, edited by Sean Howe (Pantheon)
Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters, and the Birth of the Comic Book, by Gerard Jones (Basic Books)
Strangers in Paradise Treasury Edition, by Terry Moore (HarperCollins Perennial)

Unless there's an award for "Most Pretentious", Terry Moore should never be nominated for anything. Haven't read any of the others. Again, is this the best they could come up with?

Best Publication Design
The Art of Usagi Yojimbo, designed by Cary Grazzini (Dark Horse Books)
Clyde's Fans, designed by Seth (Drawn & Quarterly)
The Complete Peanuts, designed by Seth (Fantagraphics)
In the Shadow of No Towers, designed by art spiegelman (Pantheon)
McSweeney's Quarterly #13, designed by Chris Ware (McSweeney?s)

I don't know which one of these should win, but those Peanuts books are mighty handsomely packaged.

Hall of Fame
Judges' Choices: Lou Fine; René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo

Four will be selected from:

Matt Baker
Wayne Boring
Nick Cardy
Yves Chaland
Gene Colan
Johnny Craig
Reed Crandall
Floyd Gottfredson
Frank Hampson
Graham Ingels
Robert Kanigher
William Moulton Marston
Hugo Pratt
Frank Robbins

My choices are bold. I'm wondering- since these are all legendary, outstanding creators, WHY is it necessary to have this baseball-like voting process? Don't they all DESERVE to be in? Haven't they all paid their dues and then some? And it's not even like baseball, where anybody who's been retired for five years is eligible, ensuring that there will be a bunch of second-stringers mixed in with the all-timers. Put 'em ALL in, I say! Then nominate another dozen to put in next year!

And there you have it. Seems like the choosers were trying to please everyone, and in turn have pleased no one.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Yeah, I know, I've been slack lately. I've got a lot of stuff going on, distractions, decisions to make, junk like that- and I just plain old haven't been in the mood to concentrate on providing you, my treasured readers, with bloggy goodness. That includes my thoughts on Sin City. I will get back on that horse soon, believe me. In the meantime, I link, therefore I am.

A page at which features Bambi and Her Pink Gun artist Kaneko Atsuishi. The more I see his work, the more I like it. DMP release date for Vol. 2, which sports a very cool cover: October 2005.

Alan David Doane emails to inform me that Chris Allen is doing his Breakdowns column again. Go look!

Hey! I drew something the other day! Whaddaya think?

And just because, The Official Homepage of Kelly Clarkson! Isn't she a cutie?

The website of Guy Davis! Brilliant!

Over at the Pants Press Sketchblog, the amazing Vera Brosgol has posted a link to where you can download a bittorrent file of an animated short that she collaborated on. I'd check it out, but since I'm still on my Flintstones-like OS 9 I can't use the Bittorrent client. Feh. Tell me how it is, willya?

That's all I got for now. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Pavlov, in the form of DC Comics, has rung his July solicitations bell, and like a gud dogblogger, I salivate. And comment on the covers, and list things that interest me.

Like Dorian, I'm not crazy at all about the Jim Lee covers shown for ALL STAR BATMAN AND ROBIN, THE BOY WONDER #1- they're just too hyperdetailed, hypermuscled, and just too too much. I wasn't planning on picking this up anyway- Miller and Lee are not a pairing that gets me all hot and bothered.

Now, this, on the other hand, I like. Even though the signature is that of The Losers' Jock, BATMAN #642's cover is the best Simonson cover I've seen in ages, and much better than what the real Simonson is doing these days- as those covers for the Elric books and the Day of Vengeance miniseries bear out.

I wanna know- why is a Bill Sienkiewicz Batman fondling (or at least scaring the kitty litter out of) an Adam Hughes Selina Kyle on the cover of CATWOMAN #45? Oh well, no matter- this is the first issue of the new Pfiefer/Woods regime and I, like the cat, am curious. Hope I don't get killed.

I'm finding myself thinking that perhaps I should have dropped Trigger and kept on getting Breach. Hopefully, they'll collect it, because I still like that Marcos Martin/Alvaro Lopez art team, even though they seemed to be phoning it in on #1. Anyways, here's the cover to the July issue, BREACH #7. I'm a little surprised that it's going to last that long.

There's no way in hell that this cover we're given for GREEN ARROW #52 is by James Jean, no matter what it says.

I'm not really a Green Lantern fan; never have been, although I read and enjoyed a lot of the classic Broome/Kane (and later, the O'Neil-Adams) stories as a kid. So, naturally, I've avoided this, the umpteenth GL revival attempt. But I see where the book's drawn by Carlos Pacheco and Jesus Merino, a team I like, and the cover for GREEN LANTERN #3 looks kinda kewl. So while I'm tempted, merely from a comics-art-lover's viewpoint, I think I'll continue to pass.

JLA CLASSIFIED #10 gives us Warren Ellis in an intriguing-sounding 4-parter drawn by Butch Guice, an artist I've not had much use for in the past. Who says I don't buy series for the writing? This is an odd cover, looks like it's completely computer-drawn.

JLA/CYBERFORCE is a six-dollar one shot crossover with some Top Cow superteam ("Cyberforce". Ugh. Whatta name.) that I'm totally unfamiliar with and don't want to be familiar with. But, it's written by Joe Kelly and drawn by Doug Mahnke, damn it, but with an inker that I don't know anything about. I love me that Mahnke art, but this will be a game time decision. I can't just drop six bucks on anything, you know...

JSA CLASSIFIED #1, a spinoff series of a book I dropped two years ago, debuts with what they say (this time, we mean it, I hear them saying) is the definitive origin of Power Girl, which elicits a big ol' shrug from me. But it sports two covers by artists I like, Adam Hughes and Amanda Connor. I think I like the Hughes cover best, it's a likeable and inviting image. I'd like Connor's a lot more (and like it I do, just the same) if the figure poses weren't so awkward and the expression on Power Girl's face wasn't so odd.

LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #8 looks like a continuation of the trend I noticed in my review of #4 the other day- looks like this incarnation of the team is going to spend more time fighting among themselves than fighting 30th Century evildoers. Dramatically valid, for sure, but I'm not so sure that this is a Legion I want to read for any length of time.

The cover for SEVEN SOLDIERS: GUARDIAN #3 is not exactly the best thing Cam Stewart's ever done, but the story, which is stuffed with Kirbyisms (and yes, I can tell by the synopsis), still sounds good. The cover for SEVEN SOLDIERS: ZATANNA #3 begs the question, though- while Zee was drunk, casting magic spells in her fishnets and nothing else, did she at some point blurt out "ssa raeppasid"?

I don't buy any Johnny DC titles, so forgive me if I snark a little, but what the hell is up with the eyes on Stargirl on the cover of JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED #11? I bet she can see in the dark and hundreds of miles in any direction with those distorted peepers!

Love this cover for TENRYU: THE DRAGON CYCLE VOL. 2. Very appealing, and I like the color choices. Is this any good? Help a brutha out, whydoncha?

I'm curious about ALBION #2, but that's about it. I know nothing about the artist, and I learned a long time ago that when it comes to Alan Moore-attached projects, accept no substitutes. If the Man himself don't write it, don't bother. And that goes for his daughter too.

ASTRO CITY: THE DARK AGE #2: nice cover. I'm sure that the interiors will be of the exact same quality as all the issues that have preceded it. You know, I'm getting the sneaky feeling that even though I signed up for this, I've grown bored and disenchanted with Kurt Busiek's pet project. The fact that I've always grudgingly tolerated the Brent Anderson art doesn't help.

There's no way I'm NOT buying DESOLATION JONES #2, but I've been incredibly underwhelmed by the two covers I've seen so far. Maybe I'm spoiled after all those amazing Promethea covers, but dag! Ugly color choices, haphazard composition- these look like sketchbook samples or working files that someone's pasted together. Disappointing.

SILENT DRAGON #1: A futuristic Yakuza story, written by Andy Diggle? I am so there! I am not exactly sent into paroxysms of delight by the art, but I'm sure it will suffice. I wasn't so crazy about Jock's art at first, either.

Speaking of those J.H. Williams III Promethea covers, the PROMETHEA COVERS BOOK looks like the latest attempt to squeeze one more fanboy dollar out of that recently ended series, and as profit-taking throwaways go, this one doesn't look too bad; those are some mighty sweet covers, the notes accompanying each could be very interesting, and the price point ($6) isn't prohibitive, either. I kinda wish DC would do the same thing with all those Adam Hughes Wonder Woman covers...

Is it me, or are these Dave Johnson covers for 100 BULLETS, like this one for issue #62, getting sketchier and sketchier? Dave. Take your time, man. Is your work load that great, or is this a "stylistic choice"? The book itself seems to be on a definite upswing lately after some recent doldrums, so I'm looking forward.

DEATH: AT DEATH'S DOOR TP/THE DEAD BOY DETECTIVES DIGEST: I like Jill Thompson, and I like almost all things Sandman...but I never got around to picking up the At Death's Door book, and I don't really know if I'll choose to get these new adventures of the DBD's. There's just something about the concept that bores me a little. And I don't care to pay ten bucks to be bored.

Just like Paul Westerberg once sang, "A good day is any day that you're alive", and I deem it apropros when it comes to THE LOSERS #26, as well. Each month, I'm just glad to see it listed.

The storyline contained in LUCIFER #64 sounds promising; like 100 Bullets, I'm beginning to get excited again after a dry spell.

TRIGGER #8 is the final issue. I decided to drop this after #4, so I won't be partaking. Ces't la vie.

And finally, I really like the seasonal image depicted on the BATMAN CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY 2005 COLLECTOR'S PLATE. Nice job and a clever idea by Alex Ross. Maybe it's just because I've been trying to come up with a clever idea for a self-illustrated Christmas card for years, and haven't thought of a damn thing, that I respond so favorably to the likes of this.

And that will do for another month!

Monday, April 11, 2005

It's that weekly thing I do, my haul on Wednesday according to the new Diamond shipping list! And it goes like this:


And maybe CONAN & THE JEWELS OF GWAHLUR #1. I don't remember if I signed up for it or not, and even if I did that's not a guarantee my shop will get it for me. Plus, I see where the FLIGHT VOL 2 GN is coming out; I'm supposed to be getting a copy from DCBS but I don't know when it will ship.

Went to see Sin City yesterday afternoon, still trying to think of what I want to say about it. More later, hopefully.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

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What I bought and what I thought, week of April 6!

A reunion with an old "friend" from the first story arc, along with some sharp action and character scenes, distinguish this final chapter of the 3-part "London Calling" story. About the only thing I can bitch about is that they spent a little too much time explaining Max's scam, when it was pretty obvious from the beginning. Also, this arc was structured oddly- it seemed to me to end abruptly, like this was the penultimate instead of the final chapter. Minor stuff. I think fill-in artist Ben Oliver has given us a very acceptable Jock substitute. As usual, the best book nobody's buying, a dubious distinction if ever there was one. A

Boy, did this series ever zig when it looked like it was going to zag. This started out a bit like Little Orphan Flaming Carrot, then suddenly got all serious and downbeat in tone, like writer Brian Marucca became convinced he was embarrassing himself with all the squid stuff and goofy ninjas- and never really recovered its momentum in my opinion. This final issue (for now) awkwardly attempts to reconcile the two approaches, and fails as often as it succeeds, but Afrodisiac is just silly and likeable enough (even in his present-day "serious" aspect) that he gets this across, sorta like Jackie Brown as adapted by Andrew Boyd and Ryan Yount, and artist Jim Rugg gets to let 'er rip with several messy, disjointed double-page fight spreads that work in spite of themselves. Ouch, my grammar. His art otherwise is a little inconsistent; the two-page rendition of the de-arming of the thug in the cowboy hat is underdrawn and awkwardly posed, but his nicely done Marvel-Comic-by-Billy Graham-circa-1975 type flashback comic pages look fine, and a couple of those spreads remind me of Paul Pope. Let's hope Mr. Marucca uses his hiatus to decide exactly which poison he wishes to pick. A-

If only Grant hadn't been so determined to take the piss out of Alan Moore, this would have been twice as enjoyable and interesting- but damned if it doesn't succeed anyway. I am VERY disappointed that we will not witness a Doctor Thirteen/Spawn of Frankenstein reunion, but that's mitigated somewhat by a look at Zatanna which is at least somewhat consistent with previous appearances and a story setup which is mostly fresh. I liked all the character cameos, even though I only recognized a few of them (I wouldn't mind seeing Morrison take a shot at Night Force; his Baron Winters was an enjoyably droll highlight), and artists Ryan Sook with Mick Gray gave us a nicely done approximation of not only Promethea's J.H. Williams but the 80's Steve Bissette/John Totleben Swamp Thing in the seance scenes- the less vitriolic pisstaking that actually worked. I also appreciated the tie-in with Seven Soldiers 0, in the person of Gimmick Girl, or whatever she called herself. So, while it could have been much better, this chapter could have been a lot worse and now that Morrison's hopefully got this out of his system he can move upward and onward from here...rise and reverberate, if you will. A-

I've been quite indifferent to Joe Kelly's Manitou Raven character since day one, but damned if Joe isn't doing a good job in making him interesting, most notably by spotlighting Raven's wife/helpmate Dawn, who's been banging Green Arrow on the sly and feels bad about it now that it looks like her hubby's dead. She was mostly invisible when we first met her, and now she just may be the most interesting member of this very large cast. Otherwise, this issue is consistent in quality with the other 9; if you're invested in these characters and this situation, you're probably digging it, and if not, you'll never see what the attraction is. Kelly, in his Ellis-wannabe way, has given us the comic that DC Countdown to Identity Fiasco should have been- serious, grim even, but not given to stupid plot twists and offputting in its attitude to its audience. And as always, the Mahnke/Nguyen art is stellar. A-

Whimsical and cutesy, and aimed squarely at those who make Lenore and Johnny The Homicidal Maniac as successful as they are, this is Leave it to Beaver if, instead of Jerry Mathers, we get the son of Death as...the Beaver. He goes to school, meets a group of kids who are, well, "special needs", shall we say, gets picked on by a bully, the family cat keeps running away from him and getting killed, Dad's always gone to work, Mom is a "normal" June Cleaver type who fixes DJ and his friend Pandora (she has a compulsion to open things, ha ha) "headcheese and pickle sandwiches", and other sitcom stuff. It's kinda fun but not especially lively, and you wish sometimes it could be a bit less doggedly placid, but it's nicely drawn by Ted (Courtney Crumrin, Gloom Cookie) Naifeh, who's certainly no stranger to this type of thing and serves up a solid, if not especially inspired, art job. Perhaps if Courtney had shown up for a while...anyway, I wish I could have gotten a bit more bang for my six dollars, but I don't really feel cheated either, and I wouldn't mind reading more- but may I suggest perhaps a less pricey sequel? B

Hey, if I'm gonna read stories about super-buff jungle girls fighting T-Rexes in leather chamois bikinis, then by God you can't find too many more artists suited to the task than Frank Cho, who does another outstanding job. The story has something to do with a trek across the hostile jungle island to get an antidote to the plague that accidentally got released among the group of men that discovered our She-Devil, or something like that. I stopped paying attention some time ago. That said, I'd like to know exactly how many men were in the expedition in the first place- they've been stranded on the island for a while, we're told, but it seems like a dozen men get killed every issue and this is only half over! While I'm bitching, the cover bugged me as well- it depicts Shanna in the jaws of a mammoth T. Rex, who's trying to bite down on that tender jungle girl morsel, and she's keeping the jaws from snapping down by using her arm strength. But- the way Cho draws her, she doesn't seem to be applying any pressure whatsoever with her left hand, which is placed casually on the dinosaur's lower jaw just like she sitting at a table reading a book. You'd think some tension or stress would be in order involving that hand, but nope. Am I the only one that thinks this looks odd? Or am I odd for looking at her hand in the first place? B-

Livelier than last issue, but still unfunny and dull and nowhere near as quirky and fun as it wants to be. My last issue. C
In the wake of Sin City (which no, I still haven't seen-maybe tonight) comes today's Louisville (KY) Courier-Journal's Scene supplement cover feature on comics and graphic novels, written by the C-J's usual music editor, Jeffrey Lee Puckett, with contributions from a couple of others. Although it seems at first like it's going to be yet another "Pow! Zap! Comics aren't for kids anymore!" type article, it's actually quite well written and he provides a recommendations list, mostly comprised of the usual suspects, many which are perennial favorites of my comics blogosphereiversal brethren and sistren, and is no less worthwhile for being so.

So go look, already- or are you waiting till Tom Spurgeon links to it?

I kid, Tom.
ADD provides this link to "The 100 Greatest Comics of the 20th Century", an ambitious undertaking if ever I saw one. Most of the usual suspects are there, and while I could quibble with the inclusion of such as Batman 428, the big phone-poll death of Jason Todd issue (completely invalid now, as I understand it), it's by and large a very good list.

But don't take my word for it, see for yourself.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

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Ladies and gents, I give you the jungle dame with the fabulous frame- no, not Shanna the She Devil, but RIMA, THE JUNGLE GIRL, as lovingly rendered by the late great Nestor Redondo. Rima was an extrapolation of the W.H. Hudson book Green Mansions, about a mysterious, exotic "Bird-Girl of the Amazon" and her young explorer/lover Abel, and how they dealt with threats from within and without the jungle. DC released this in April of 1974, at roughly about the same time they had had some success with the Edgar Rice Burroughs franchise of characters such as John Carter, Carson of Venus, and of course, the jungle lord Tarzan. Unfortunately, Rima apparently wasn't a big seller, or the paper shortage was causing DC to cut back on the number of titles it put out, because it only lasted seven issues, coming out bi-monthly for approximately a year.

All seven issues featured scripts by longtime DC editor/writer/legend Robert Kanigher, best known for his war comics and wiggy stints on Wonder Woman and the Metal Men. No writer credit appears in the first four issues, but they read very much like Kanigher's style, somewhat florid, but also quite stilted in its diction, and episodic as all get out. The art, though, more than made up for it- Redondo did some of the best work of his career on this most obscure of stages, and did so despite dealing with the unenviable task of taking over art chores on Swamp Thing from Berni Wrightson during the book's first incarnation, plus doing several mystery/horror stories for DC's supernatural anthology titles as well. Each issue is consistently excellent artwise- full of nicely done detail and Redondo's outstanding renditions of not only the title character, but many animals and natives as well.

Problem was, the events he was assigned to draw didn't always lend themselves to such lavish attention. Issues 1-4 essentially introduce the principal players; Rima, Abel, Rima's elderly stepfather Nuflo, and two feuding native tribes, one a tribe of headhunters. After escaping from some mercenary jungle skirmish, Abel staggers into the village of a native tribe. They nurse him back to health, and he is warned to avoid a certain part of the jungle, in which they tell him a witch lives. Overcome by curiosity, Abel sets out to investigate, and encounters Rima for the first time. As she runs into the jungle, he is bitten by a poisonous snake after which he passes out and comes to in Nuflo's hut, and is informed by the old man that his daughter Rima has saved him. This kinda establishes a pattern for the next seven issues: Abel gets into some sort of scrape, and Rima comes and pulls his ass out of the fire. I fully expect that issue 8 would have had her buying him a passport and placing his tuckus on the next flight back to civilization. The next three kinda go on like this- Abel is caught between his infatuation for Rima and the tribe which has befriended him, as well as the headhunter tribe which threatens them all, and Rima decides that she should journey to where her mother, who died giving her birth, is from so she can find out about her people. We get a full account of how Nuflo and Rima's mother met, and how he came to care for her and how her abilities, which mirrored those of her mother, grew. Rima and Abel also fall in love. Inexplicably, and I SPOIL...Rima decides at the last minute not to take the trip to locate her mother's people after all, which really didn't make a whole lot of sense after the three issue buildup. Maybe Kanigher didn't think he'd have time to do a big multi-issue epic story, who knows. Anyway, in the next three issues, Rima encounters a Boys From Brazil-type mad doctor (they stop just short of establishing that he is a Nazi, for some reason), a group of evil big-game hunters who wish to kill her white leopard friend, and in the final issue, a safari with a horny rich married lady and her brat kid, who has a penchant for torturing the animals in the jungle. Of course, in each one of these stories Abel gets in some sort of scrape and Rima comes to his rescue, which more often than not is depicted on the Joe Kubert covers for each issue. The sum experience of reading these books is quite frustrating- Kanigher gets in a routine early on, and all he does is give us variations on that one theme. His dialogue is embarrassing in places, especially when he tries to get all mushy and romantic. It just wasn't his strength. The main reason for getting these, in my opinion anyway, is for the excellent Redondo art. It would be nice to see DC collect these simply to see it reproduced on quality paper, perhaps recolored. I'd buy one, anyway...

No overview of Rima would be complete without mentioning the back features (a standard practice at DC back in those days; guess they got away with paying less money that way)- mostly a Sci-Fi opus called "Space Voyagers", about, well, voyagers in space encountering various menaces, by Jack Oleck, Kanigher, and Alex Nino. Nino was at his absolute peak then, and the first five issues sported some prime examples of his gnarly, detailed work. Oleck wrote the first one, then Kanigher did the other four. These were solid, if unspectacular stories, nicely drawn, but it's a jarring transition from the Amazon to the Andromeda Galaxy- two great tastes that don't necessarily taste great together. Issue #6 saw a back feature story about a sadistic Nazi doctor who gets his just desserts, written by Kanigher with the ubituquous-in-those-days-at-DC Ric Estrada and most likely a leftover inventory tale from House of Mystery or somesuch, and #7 saw a new feature, "Space Marshall, again by Kanigher with art by another of Redondo's Filipino art peers, Noly Zamora. Not especially memorable either.

There's an ad in #7 advertising the first issue of Claw The Unconquered, which was set to come out later that year. And I'm fairly certain Rima got the axe to make room on the schedule for many of DC's soon-to-be-released line of sword & sorcery/adventure books, designed to ride the coattails of Marvel's Conan success. Unfortunately, none of those books (Beowulf, Claw, Stalker) some of which were very good, caught on. The one exception to this was Mike Grell's Warlord, which went on for what seemed like a hundred years. Anyway, to my knowledge, the lovely Witch of the Amazon, the Daughter of the Didi, our very own Rima the Jungle Girl has never made another appearance in a DC comic book to this very day. I may be wrong about that, but I can't think of one. What a shame- it would be nice to see someone like Frank Cho or Darwyn Cooke take a stab at illustrating her. I won't hold my breath.
Here's a note which some of you may find of interest: Paul Westerberg is playing the Cannery in Nashville, Tennessee on Tuesday night, May 3. Despite the fact that I still haven't purchased Folker, I'd still love to see him again...
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Click on the pic at left- it's a great shot of Groucho Marx and Virginia O'Brien, another of those Forties screen stars I am so smitten with.

I'm thinking this is a snap from around the time of the filming of the Marx film At The Circus, in which she performed the strangest and most wonderful rendition of "Rock-A-Bye Baby" that I've ever heard. And lo and behold, TCM is airing nearly all the Marx Brothers' films tomorrow, and Circus is scheduled to air at 10:45 AM central time. of course, I'll be at work- God, I wish I had TiVo. My VCR isn't hooked up, either, and I'm not really in the mood to fool with it but maybe I can get someone to tape it for me. Virginia also sang a great tune, "The Wild Wild West", in The Harvey Girls, which co-starred Judy Garland and airs frequently on Turner Classic.

Correction: Sharp-eyed Jim Treacher informs me that Virginia and her "Rock-A-Bye Baby" song was in the later 1941 film The Big Store, not At The Circus as I erroneously stated. See? I don't know everything, now do I. It's been a while since I've seen either, and I got them confused in my feeble mind. But now, the record has been set straight and the way my luck goes, Store probably aired at a time when I could have seen it...