Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Image Hosted by

The other coveted Bacardi Show Birthday Greeting goes out today to the amazing VERA BROSGOL! Miz B turns the big 21 today!
Image Hosted by

The first of two BSBdG's go out today to VAN (The Man) MORRISON, the Celtic Soul Brother, who turns 60 today. Here's 30 of my favorite Van songs, and bear in mind that I haven't picked up one of his albums since the early 90's...

ASTRAL WEEKS from Astral Weeks
SWEET THING from Astral Weeks
SLIM SLOW SLIDER from Astral Weeks
AND IT STONED ME from Moondance
MOONDANCE from Moondance
INTO THE MYSTIC from Moondance
I'LL BE YOUR LOVER TOO from His Band and the Street Choir
WILD NIGHT from Tupelo Honey
JACKIE WILSON SAID (I'm in Heaven When You Smile) from St. Dominic's Preview
I WILL BE THERE from St. Dominic's Preview
REDWOOD TREE from St. Dominic's Preview
SNOW IN SAN ANSELMO from Hard Nose the Highway
PURPLE HEATHER from Hard Nose the Highway
CARAVAN (live) from It's Too Late to Stop Now
I BELIEVE TO MY SOUL from It's Too Late to Stop Now
FAIR PLAY from Veedon Fleece
STREETS OF ARKLOW from Veedon Fleece
COUNTRY FAIR from Veedon Fleece
FULL FORCE GALE from Into the Music
ROLLING HILLS from Into the Music
SATISFIED from Common One
CELTIC RAY from Beautiful Vision
CLEANING WINDOWS from Beautiful Vision
HIGHER THAN THE WORLD from Inarticulate Speech of the Heart
IRISH HEARTBEAT from Inarticulate Speech of the Heart
TIR NA NOG from No Guru, No Method, No Teacher
CARRICKFERGUS from Irish Heartbeat (with the Chieftains)

And that's just a few! Essentially, anything from 1969 to 1974 is must-have, and much of the next 10 years after that is outstanding as well. In my opinion, of course. There are some other things he's done since that sounded OK, but not since 1990's Enlightenment have I been moved to buy- too much name-dropping of ancient poets and too much fuzzy-headed mystical bullshit, too much generic-sounding R&B, too many diatribes against the music biz that he thinks has treated him so badly over the years and the state of music in general, which is not to say that he doesn't have a point but geez Louise! and just not enough of what drew me to his wonderful 70's music in the first place- adventurous singing, the wonderful folk/R&B/jazz hybrid sound, and a willingness to vary up his subject matter and accompaniment just a little...

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Three quick links:

Rivkah has done it again..., another LJ post with some invaluable information for all you aspiring creator-types. Me, I didn't understand a word of it.

New Tuesday Morning Quarterback!

Go here to find out how your vehicle ranks in regard to MPG, annual fuel cost, greenhouse gas emissions, and its EPA air pollution score.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Time once more for that recurring feature here at the JBS: WWJBB, or What Will Johnny B (presumably) Buy this Wednesday according to the new Diamond shipping list?

Can't pass up those Hellboy spinoffs, especially when Guy Davis is drawing.

I wish I was more excited about this series than I am.

Love that Pete Woods art, but I sure hope things start happening soon...

Did Diggle jump the shark last issue? I seem to be the only one that suspects so. We'll see!

psst...I know how this one ends...

Hopefully the upward trend will continue here in the first SS chapter finale.

I was kinda underwhelmed by #1, not quite make-or-break yet but I hope it gets better.

I'm not all that familiar with Jordi Benet, but what I've seen looks fine. Nearly every issue of Solo has been enjoyable so far, and I see no reason why this won't be as well.

Yikes! A $6 book! Too many expensive ones lately...

While we wait for the Hawaiian Dick finale, Clay Moore's other book gets a new chapter .

First it seemed like this came out bi-weekly, now it's more like quarterly. Bendis, even Stan Lee had to cut back eventually...

And it's possible that SMOKE #3 may find its way into my folder as well. Bojemoi! Good thing I get paid tomorrow!

Also, if you're not already in possession of them, you should pick up the SMOKE AND GUNS TPB- fun concept, GREAT art by Fabio Moon, and HERO SQUARED's more Giffen/DeMatteis gold!

More films I've watched lately, either via the online rental service, * pay cable or in an ** actual movie theatre!

Image Hosted by

I think an appropriate subtitle for this one would be Terry Gilliam's Greatest Hits; you can watch this film and see familiar bits from all his films- even 12 Monkeys (torture chamber with people suspended upside down on a mechanical rack with glass boxes full of snails on their heads) and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (Heath Ledger's spastic performance brought Johnny Depp's equally twitchy turn as Hunter Thompson to mind). I've read a lot of mixed reactions to this all around and none of them are far off base -and maybe as a Gilliam admirer I'm inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt more than the heathen infidel might- but I actually liked this one, even though it came across more as Gilliam shaking off the rust, clearing his throat if you will, after an extended period of (often involuntary) relative inactivity. This leads me to believe that the upcoming Tideland might be the one to look forward to after all is said and done. Anyway, Grimm is rarely dull (It didn't seem half as long as it actually was) and visually outstanding, full of typically Gilliam visual conceits and wonderful ideas (even if some the effects sometimes looked a bit, shall we say, chintzy). Ledger and Matt Damon had an easy rapport as the Bros., although the script couldn't decide whether they were supposed to be clods or clever rogues, and the inconsistency got real old before it was over. Neither does the scripter do any favors for the two main female characters: Monica Belluci doesn't really get much screen time until the end, and then she's just a one-dimensional wicked witch with very little depth, and Lena Headley's Angelika, first shown as a badass hunter-fighter, disappointingly devolves into a damsel-in-distress before film's end. Jonathan Pryce isn't called upon to do much but smirk, but as always he adds a lot to any Gilliam film just by being there. Peter Stormare, as Pryce's chief torturer, hams it up throughout and boy, did I get tired of him real fast. The main culprit for the film's not being what it could be is the script, as a whole- and while it's probably studio interference (this was yet another troubled Gilliam production) and tinkering that's to blame, one wishes that a bit more care and thought had been put into it because the basic idea was very clever. It's not that the film is hard to follow, far from it, but it's just so haphazard and inconsistent that the stitches show. I don't know why Gilliam invites such studio and investor humbuggery, but hopefully someday he'll be given free rein to entertain and amaze us, because he comes frustratingly close here but just can't transcend the dumbed-down script. B+

My wife is a HUGE Sandra Bullock fan, so nice-guy that I am I added this to the ol' Netflix queue 'cause I'm all about keeping Mrs. B entertained. Anyway, she and I went to see the first one a couple of years ago in the theatre and I kinda liked it- not great cinema by any stretch but it was fun and Miz Bullock is likeable enough. In this one, she gets a no-nonsense partner and must help find the pageant organizer, played by The Shat, and the actual winner of the pageant in the first film, who are kidnapping victims. This one's pretty much of a piece with its predecessor, even though the usual sequel rot is there in inconsistent characterization and so on. It also misses Michael Caine, who helped make MC1 as much fun as it was. If you liked the first one, you'll probably like this, and if not stay FAR away. C+

Big-budget biopic of the famous recluse Howard Hughes, and every penny shows on the screen. Leo DiCaprio stars as Hughes, and frankly I had my doubts about him being able to pull off the role- he's just too baby-faced, kinda like Mickey Rooney was years ago. But you know what? I thought he did a great job. Of course, he only really superficially looked like Hughes, or at least the pictures I've seen of him, but he acts his ass off and never lapses into scenery chewing. It's a model of restraint (even during the scenes where Hughes is supposed to come unglued) and certainly the best performance I've ever seen from him. Not so successful is Cate Blanchett, normally a fine actress but here she never really quite captures Katherine Hepburn (or at least her public persona) and she looks even less like her than Leo does Howard. Kate Beckinsale, normally an actress whose ability I've regarded as non-existent, actually does a fine job as Ava Gardner, one of Howard's later paramours. The script tries really hard to shed some light on Hughes' motivations and personality, and it does cast him in a mostly positive light...but I wish more time had been spent on his formative years, because when the movie begins we're taken right to his early filmmaking days from one early childhood scene, and so we don't really get many answers to who he was and why he was...but it's possible that those questions don't have easy answers. As someone who was born after he went into seclusion, I didn't know jack about him except as the recluse who watched Ice Station Zebra constantly, and now I understand him and his accomplishments better. Guess that's as much as I can ask. A-

God, this was one wacked-out movie. Most reviewers that I've read have described it as Jackie Chan meets Buster Keaton meets Tex Avery meets Quentin Tarantino, and damned if I can top that so there you go. One thing it is is imaginative, and often laugh-out-loud funny. Sometimes logic gets left behind in the shuffle, but I enjoyed it a lot. A-

If they ever get around to doing a Courtney Crumrin or Gloom Cookie film, they should try to recruit the production designer and cinematographer of this film, which looks wonderful in that Burton/Addams Family way but goes on and on and on, spinning its wheels until we get a half-assed resolution of sorts and little else. There's a lot of talent and money here, and it shows, but this amalgam of what I understand are three of the Lemony Snicket's... series got very tiresome. Cast wise, it's Jim Carrey and everybody else but the two kids who play the always-in-trouble Baudelaires, Emily Browning and Liam Aiken, were very good, and Billy Connolly's cameo gives needed respite from star Jim Carrey's relentless mugging for a while. Carrey is clever in places, but jeezum crow does a little bit of him in this mode go a long way. I haven't read any of the Snicket series, so it's most likely that once again the blame can be laid at the feet of the corporate groupthink scripting process and the original stories were far more clever and interesting, who knows. This is worth watching once, but geez, why can't we get a decent script to match decent visuals in a fantasy film? Is that just too much to ask? B-

More as time permits...!
Some recent Top Shelf Productions acquisitions:

TRICKED is my first exposure to Alex Robinson's work; by the time I became aware of his other signature series Box Office Poison, several issues had already come out- and I wasn't impressed enough with the art to be moved to hunt down the back issues. I'd always thought I'd get around to checking out the trade collection someday, and I just might have to accelerate the timetable a bit after reading Tricked, his latest graphic novel.

I've often held that outstanding illustration can conquer a multitude of story sins. But here, Robinson's story has to stand on its own merits because his art, which is an uneasy mix of Scott McCloud, Richard Sala, Gilbert Hernandez, and the person who created the Doug cartoon, only without the assurance and polish of any of them, it's not the main attraction- while he's certainly improved a lot since his early days, it still functions merely to define the events, rather than enhance them in any discernible way, even though he does some impressive (but unnecessarily showoffish) stuff towards the end (pgs. 329-337). I don't want to seem unduly harsh, though- there are some very good layouts throughout, and Robinson does a great job of defining his characters. All of them have a distinctive appearance, an absolute must when you're dealing with a large cast such as he employs here.

Even though there's probably twice that, Tricked is essentially the story of six people: Ray Beam, a creatively blocked rock star; Caprice, a plus-size waitress with relationship issues who works at a diner which has apparently achieved some renown for its giant pig on the roof; Phoebe, who's in town looking for her father; Lily, a Latina temp who Ray falls for, making her his "personal assistant"; Nick, a husband and father whose wife thinks he works for some corporation but actually is employed by a sports memorabilia store run by a crooked, brutal man; and Steve, an anti-social office worker (who, I dare say, shares more than a few traits in common with many of us) whose chief obsession in life is Ray's former band, The Tricks- about whom he is as big a fan as you'd ever want to meet. All these characters, slowly but surely, come together through a series of events which culminates in an incident at the diner which changes many of them...FOREVER! Robinson makes all these characters, with their requisite quirks, follies and foibles, ring true and realistic, and never lapses into unnecessary dramatics or cliche.

Of course, I did have a couple of quibbles, to wit and BEWARE OF SPOILERS AT THE END:

First of all, the main character, the one whose story is paramount to the whole narrative, is Ray Beam, formerly of the pop-rock band The Tricks, who put out (as we glean from the narrative) four albums in the late '80s-early '90s and became huge rock stars, then broke up, with Ray releasing one successful solo effort. When we first meet him, he's having difficulty following up his debut disc, and he's miserably unhappy despite having what seems to be Michael Jackson-style fame and wealth (without the lunatic behavior), with all the money he needs for drugs, vacations, and so on. Now, as someone who's followed music and the music business almost all his life, I found this a bit difficult to buy. I don't know if Robinson actually based Ray on anyone in particular, or just the stereotype of the "reclusive rock star", but the late '80s were not a good time at all for whiteboy power pop acts- just ask Marshall Crenshaw, The Hoodoo Gurus, Jellyfish, the Smithereens, or any of a multitude of deserving acts in that style from that time. I seriously doubt that in the real world, anyway, a band like The Tricks would achieve that level of fame...if Elvis Costello, Crenshaw, the dB's, et. al. couldn't do it, then what did the Tricks have that set them apart? Even more contemporary bands like Weezer and Fountains of Wayne, to name but a couple, haven't reached the level of celebrity that Ray and the Tricks have. U2, perhaps. Anyway, I was able to overlook this because Robinson presents it so credibly...but it bugged me just the same. Also, attempting to create a feeling of disorientation and chaos in the big finale at the diner, Robinson throws us a bait and switch by having one of the people involved doing the narration mention "the part where the guy pulled the trigger but the bullet had not yet found its mark in my chest"...but that doesn't happen. Someone else gets the bullet. Dramatically valid, but it's a bit of a cheat and elicited a "what the-!" response from me as I read it.

Still, Tricked was an engrossing read, and Robinson is to be commended for not only developing an interesting group of characters, but also putting them through their paces in fine fashion. Recommended, and if we don't learn anything else from it, we should all remember never to stop taking our meds. A-

The conceit this time is that this is printed on a reproduction of those old spiral bound notebooks that launched a million cartoons back in all of our school days...appropriate since this Winnie-the-Pooh-meets Harriet the Spy-ish fantasy does indeed take one back to the long-ago days of reading neat little stories with likeable characters and a baffling mystery to solve. There's a goofy, loopy what-the-heck kinda feel to these proceedings, kinda like Carolyn Keene after sucking on helium for a half-hour, and a "anything can happen" spirit is pervasive throughout. The main story centers on a small town full of talking anthropomorphic people, with a closed-off section of the park that encases a lake in which a terrible monster is said to dwell. A plucky bunny girl and her photographer canary friend set out to find the truth, in league with a secret underground radical newspaper (with entrances and exits all over town) and run into resistance form many of the town elders, including a huge elephant librarian who happens to be the father of Turnip, who, believe it or not, is the central character of the tale with his struggle for acceptance, to make his father proud, and to express himself artistically- something he has in common with several of the other characters and is kind of an underlying theme. Of course, complications ensue but it's all resolved in diverting fashion. I had seen Aaron Renier's work in one of Top Shelf's Free Comic Book Day offerings, 2003's unless I'm mistaken, and liked it then but didn't see anything else he'd done since. Based on this enjoyable book, I hope to see more. He's got a loose, fun, whimsical style that really suits itself to this sort of thing, and I'm more than a little surprised that he hasn't made a name for himself doing children's books. Spiral Bound is a fun read for the young, and the young at heart as the saying goes. A-

AEIOU (Any Easy Intimacy)
It takes someone with a quirky, oddball style to make what it pretty much a straight-faced tale of the ins and outs of twentysomething relationships interesting, and that's what Brown does here with AEIOU. It yam what it yam- boy meets girl, boy and girl give off sparks, boy and girl have sex constantly, boy and girl discover each other's attendant neuroses, and boy and girl drift apart. And it's Brown's (in the words of Warren Ellis) "wobbly" art that gives the episodic story its charm, along with his willingness to share and not villify his erstwhile love interest. Also included is a neat little "soundtrack" section, in which he draws little thumbnail replicas of albums which either he listened to while drawing the thing, or records they listened to during their time together. Either way, it's a fun touch that is absolutely inessential, but makes the music geek in me sit up and pay attention. I'm not the biggest fan in the world of autobiographical comics, but as long as they're done with a modicum of style, I can dig it and this is worth your while. I also gotta mention the usual outstanding Top Shelf production values- this smallish book is printed on excellent paper stock, which may not justify the $12 price tag but certainly softens the sting. A-

Coming soon, THE KING and THE SURROGATES #1.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Image Hosted by

The first issue of Fantastic Four that I remember actually owning, courtesy of my folks: #22, featuring the FF vs. the Mole Man and those crazy sashes, cover date January 1964. I bring this to your attention because today would have been the 88th birthday of the Man They Call King:

Image Hosted by

Jacob Kurtzburg aka JACK KIRBY.

The King is gone but he's not forgotten.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

JOHNNY B HEART BRAINS...I MEAN NETFLIX Part...uh, I forget. Part the latest. And apologies to Tom for stealing his schtick.

Image Hosted by

** means I saw it on cable and not via the auspices of Netflix.

Not as much a zombie film with ordinary people as its heroes as it is a film about ordinary people who happen to meet zombies, Shaun of the Dead was constantly funny and entertaining, with great dialogue and more than a few surprises mixed in with the jokes. I'm sick to death of all things zombie, but really liked this a lot. I hope they never make a sequel. A

I've wanted to see this for many, many years and just haven't had the chance till now, thanks to Sanctuary Visual's restoration and DVD release. Many of you probably recall how much of a Bolan fan I am, and this gives us Mr. Feld at his peak, in a couple of British concerts filmed separately then edited together, performed at the 1972 height of T.Rextasy by none other than Ringo Starr himself, who also appears in some random skits and jams with Bolan and Elton John in the basement of Abbey Road studios. The concert footage is great- the original T.Rex band, consisting of not only Marc Bolan but percussionist Mickey Finn, bassist Steve Currie and drummer Bill Legend, and the set list contains many of the group's best songs such as "The Slider", "Jeepster", and of course "Get it On (Bang a Gong)" which is given a frenetic, drawn-out performance. Bolan and the audience feed off each other, and the vibe is infectious. The jam session in the basement isn't bad, with Elton, Ringo and Bolan hammering out a heavily overdubbed rendition of "Children of the Revolution". The skits, interspersed throughout the concert footage, are very much a mixed bag- there are a couple of painfully weird and unfunny scenes of Bolan riding in a red Cadillac, talking on a disconnected telephone when he's not rambling poetry, with Ringo as his chauffeur in a big mouse suit and a dwarf that runs up and munches on the side view sounds wild but it's just strange. Same for a few brief scenes of Ringo and Bolan reciting song lyrics to each other, but they're unable to keep from cracking up with laughter. Funny at first but after a while you're like "Uh...let's move on, fellas...". But there is an extended garden party scene set outside and filmed at John Lennon's Tittenhurst estate that features Marc sitting crosslegged, playing acoustic guitar on the ground in front of a string quartet,performing a medley with the quartet accompanying him...and it's great- the different setting for these overly-familiar songs (well, overly familiar to me, anyway) makes them fresh again. Unfortunately, there's a lot of surreal farting around (nuns eating hamburgers, some fairly well-known English actor as the butler) in this sequence as well but that string quartet medley is golden. Lotsa bonus features with this package as well, such as a more-interesting-than-you'd-think feature on how the film was cleaned up and restored, lots of face time with Bolan's son Rolan, who was only 2 when his dad died and kinda serves as the host for most of the bonus stuff; interviews with Legend and producer Tony Visconti, the complete unedited concerts, and more. I was bugged a bit by several obvious overdubs in all the concert footage, but that's small beer- if you're a T.Rex fan, and God knows I certainly am, you absolutely must have this. And even if you're not, or haven't heard them, you should check it out. B+

Sarah Michelle Gellar stars in one of the latest adaptations of a Japanese horror film by the original director. It does have a moderately intriguing premise, some spooky effects (that girl crawling down the stairs is just weird, and her apparently disembodied head in tha crack of the door towards the end is memorable, too), and decent performances but is sunk by a needlessly convoluted story, complete with annoyingly ambiguous ending. Sometimes knowing that the situation doesn't get resolved is frustrating, not unsettling...or at least on Planet Dave it is. C+

So busy slavishly following the Modern Horror Films Template that it squanders a decent premise via a terrible script and somnambulent acting. Also features another Modern Horror Film staple, the jumbled ending that doesn't resolve anything and leaves the viewer hanging. And there are two endings, one in the bonus features...but it's no more satisfying than the other. If you have to choose between this and anything else, choose anything else. D

Despite the fact that Will Farrell has forever earned this old-school Blue Oyster Cult fan's enmity by virtue of that g-damned SNL cowbell skit, I will admit he's pretty funny sometimes. Not as funny as he thinks, and certainly not as funny as many of his fans think, but once in a while he gets me going with some of his absurd physical comedy. I liked this as much as anything he's ever done; it stays consistently funny and while it sometimes is just too obvious and hammers home a lot of the jokes, well, finesse and understatement just isn't Farrell's forte. He's got a great cast to help him, especially Christina Applegate and Steve Carrell, and I especially loved the big rival station news team brawl with cameos by Ben Stiller and Tim Robbins and got a laugh out of the cowbell-skit style scene in which Ferrell tried to seduce Applegate by playing his flute onstage a la Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull. B+

Back when I was a kid, I remember seeing this animated TV special on fairly often, and it led me to check out the music of another of my all-time favorite musicians, Harry Nilsson- who came up with the concept and wrote a set of songs (later released as an album) for it. Hadn't seen it in a long, long time though, and I'm sorry to say that I didn't enjoy it as much at forty-something as I did at eleven. The premise is clever enough: in a fantasy world where everyone has pointed heads, a baby is born with a round head. Named Oblio, he's given a pointed hat to wear so he will fit in and soon acquired a loyal dog buddy named Arrow. Unfortunately, Oblio gets on the wrong side of an evil Count (who has the ear of the good-natured, ineffectual king) and soon gets banished to the Pointless Forest, where he encounters several odd characters and learns several life lessons, most notably that everyone has a reason to be, point or no point. The animation is by the Murikami/Wolf studios, and is well-done in its scrawly style but as a whole shows its age with some dated Yellow Submarine-wannabe sequences. I had also seen an extended animated sequence by this same studio during Zappa's 200 Motels but had never made the connection before. One big problem I had was the narration- in the original film, the framing sequences, with a kid and his dad who wants to read him a story, and the narration was by Dustin Hoffman and it suited him perfectly. For some reason, though, the video releases substituted Ringo Starr for Hoffmann, and while you all know I love me some Ringo his awkward inflections and honking Liverpudlian voice just sounds strange. I don't know why Hoffman's original narration had to be replaced, probably rights or money-related I suppose...but it's a shame. The story and animation is creaky and dated but mostly fun, the songs are of course excellent, and while once again the reality wasn't as good as the memory and found this tedious for long stretches, I still liked this and would love to add it to my DVD library someday. B+

Caught a screening of this on TCM a while back- it's a Red Skelton vehicle about a small-town bumpkin who is a cinema fanatic, especially the films of fictional silent movie star Lawrence Rupert- and when he foils a bank robbery using the tactics he sees in a Rupert film, the resulting publicity gets him invited out to Hollywood to meet the actor for a photo op which Merton thinks is going to get him in the movie business. Of course, it doesn't, and he scuffles around trying to get movie work with little success...but with the help of Virginia O'Brien, in the longest non-singing part I've seen her in yet, things turn out OK. If you like Skelton, or as in my case, O'Brien, you should check this out- it's a pleasant time-waster. B+

I will go out of my way, every time TCM airs one, to catch a Maisie film. They star sexy young Ann Sothern as Mary Anastasia "Maisie" O'Connor, a no-nonsense "showgirl" with a heart of gold, who bounces from gig to gig all over the country and
always seems to get mixed up with other people's problems, which of course she sets out to solve. This one finds Maisie getting involved with a rich dysfunctional family, working as a maid due to a mixup with the law, and of course by the movie's end everything works out just fine and Maisie finds love. The Maisie films were B-list all the way, with predictable scripts and low budgets, but Sothern is amazing and if someone ever releases a DVD box set of Maisie films I am SO there. B+

Essentially a compilation of clips from 70s and 80s TV appearances by the likes of Thin Lizzy, Uriah Heep (pre-and-post Ken Hensley) and Lynyrd Skynyrd, of mostly poor quality- all lipsynched and laden with terrible "psychedelic" TV-show effects. The main reason I rented this was that it featured a 1975 performance clip of the Sensational Alex Harvey Band performing "Delilah"- and I'd been jonesing to see this amazing band again for a long time. It's a decent perf, the SAHB do all the stunts they usually did when performing this song, but it's almost ruined by the aforementioned excessive camera tricks and dumbass angles- sometimes the camera is at the back of the studio, rendering the band about 1/4-inch tall! There's also a good clip of the Gillan-Glover era Deep Purple doing "Highway Star"- they flat out jam on it, like they had a tendency to do. C+

Friday, August 26, 2005

Image Hosted by

Not much going on around here lately, huh. Anyway, here's a neat (as certain members of vulgar society would refer to it) cat fight cover from waaaay back in 1968 to look at for the time being. I keep thinking I should see if I could scare up a set of Anthro comics, there were only 6 of 'em...

Oh yeah, my latest LAST CALL column is up over at Comic Book Galaxy, grammar mistakes and all. in it, I hold forth on TRICKED, AEIOU (An Easy Intimacy), SPIRAL BOUND (I'll probably cross post these over here before the end of the weekend), JSA CLASSIFIED #2, HELLBLAZER #211, HERO SQUARED #3, CITY OF TOMORROW! #5, LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #9, and STRANGE GIRL #3. Nope, didn't get SMOKE #3- comics shop said it didn't ship either in BG or Nashville, although it was on the Diamond list. Oh well, maybe I'll get it eventually. Maybe.

Anyway, back to work now.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

I used to own a copy of this album on 8-track back in 1972 (the shell was blue, as I recall), which is the only thing I could think of that would be a proper segue to say RIP Robert Moog. Click on the image to see it all big-like.
Good morning! Four things:

1. Chris Arrant has done an interesting interview with Brian (Demo) Wood over at Newsarama, about design as it applies to comics and graphic novels. It's a lot more interesting than I just made it sound, so go check it!

2. Tom Spurgeon recently mentioned, over at Comics Reporter, the closing of a comics shop that he occasionally visited in New Mexico. Alan David Charles Foster Doane, and others, have written thought-provoking responses. I found this noteworthy mostly because of my own recent decision to stop getting the majority of my comics at my local comics shop, due to my issues with the difficulty they have in getting the books I want to read, and the decision several years ago to stop offering a discount to their holds customers. My shop is certainly better than many I've heard about from others- they do get a fair amount of indie and small press publications. Manga, not so much. But then again, comics aren't the sole focus of the chain of stores- they also offer music, DVDs and gaming supplies so as long as they make sure they have enough copies of X-this or Infinite-that, they're satisfied. Or that's the way it seems, anyway.

3. Trivia time. Like, I daresay, most kids of my generation, I grew up watching Captain Kangaroo almost every weekday morning. Once in a while, in between the Grandfather Clock and Mr. Moose skits and the Tom Terrific cartoons, they'd have a musical number, with someone from the cast acting in costume. One such skit involved a kindly old puppeteer whose puppets came to life by magic and performed for him one time. The song that they were enacting had a beautiful, wistful melody, with vaguely Oriental flavor (even though the puppeteer, if I recall correctly, looked like the typical Gepetto-Italian type) and marchlike tempo. I don't remember the lyrics specifically, but I do recall a line in the chorus that went something like "My name ____(?), My name ___(?)...come and see us play." The melody of this song gets stuck in my head all the time, and I'd love to know if any of you out there remember this, and might even know what the tune is called and who performed it, or if anyone ever recorded and released it! Paging Mark Evanier! Anybody? Bueller?

4. Something has happened to Ping-O-Matic, or at least on my prehistoric browsers it has- it no longer lets me put in those clever little custom titles anymore that show up and look so witty on Chipper. A few weeks ago, I noticed that the fields in which you put your blog title and the URL of same looked different/bigger. But ever since then, no mater what I put in the title field, it always shows up on the ol' Comics Weblog Update-a-tron 5000 as "The Johnny Bacardi Show". It's still pinging like it should, but I can no longer post the link in French and silly stuff like that! What is the fugging deal?

Monday, August 22, 2005

I've been outside sawing limbs off the uprooted holly tree that formerly occupied the front of our house, as well as some other random acts of outdoor terrorism. So I'm too tired to do anything except this cut-and-paste music thing I spied (with my widdle eye) at Wilworks' LJ.

A. Go to
B. Enter the year you graduated from high school in the search function.
C. Bold for the songs you like, strike through the ones you hate and underline your favorite. Do nothing to the ones you don't remember (or don't care about).

1978, by the way.

1. Shadow Dancing, Andy Gibb
2. Night Fever, Bee Gees
3. You Light Up My Life, Debby Boone
4. Stayin' Alive, Bee Gees
5. Kiss You All Over, Exile

6. How Deep Is Your Love, Bee Gees
7. Baby Come Back, Player
8. (Love Is) Thicker Than Water, Andy Gibb
9. Boogie Oogie Oogie, A Taste Of Honey
10. Three Times A Lady, Commodores

11. Grease, Frankie Valli
12. I Go Crazy, Paul Davis
13. You're The One That I Want, John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John
14. Emotion, Samantha Sang
15. Lay Down Sally, Eric Clapton
16. Miss You, Rolling Stones
17. Just The Way You Are, Billy Joel
18. With A Little Luck, Wings
19. If I Can't Have You, Yvonne Elliman
20. Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah), Chic
21. Feels So Good, Chuck Mangione
22. Hot Child In The City, Nick Gilder

23. Love Is Like Oxygen, Sweet
24. It's A Heartache, Bonnie Tyler
25. We Are The Champions / We Will Rock You, Queen (always hated "Champions", with its nyah-nyah mock pompous tone)
26. Baker Street, Gerry Rafferty
27. Can't Smile Without You, Barry Manilow
28. Too Much, Too Little, Too Late, Johnny Mathis and Deniece Williams

29. Dance With Me, Peter Brown
30. Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad, Meat Loaf
31. Jack And Jill, Raydio
32. Take A Chance On Me, Abba
33. Sometimes When We Touch, Dan Hill
34. Last Dance, Donna Summer
35. Hopelessly Devoted To You, Olivia Newton-John

36. Hot Blooded, Foreigner
37. You're In My Heart, Rod Stewart
38. The Closer I Get To You, Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway
39. Dust In The Wind, Kansas
40. Magnet And Steel, Walter Egan
41. Short People, Randy Newman
42. Use Ta Be My Girl, O'Jays
43. Our Love, Natalie Cole
44. Love Will Find A Way, Pablo Cruise
45. An Everlasting Love, Andy Gibb
46. Love Is In The Air, John Paul Young
47. Goodbye Girl, David Gates
48. Slip Slidin' Away, Paul Simon

49. The Groove Line, Heatwave
50. Thunder Island, Jay Ferguson
51. Imaginary Lover, Atlanta Rhythm Section
52. Still The Same, Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band
53. My Angel Baby, Toby Beau

54. Disco Inferno, Trammps
55. On Broadway, George Benson
56. Come Sail Away, Styx
57. Back In Love Again, L.T.D.
58. This Time I'm In It For Love, Player
59. You Belong To Me, Carly Simon
60. Here You Come Again, Dolly Parton
61. Blue Bayou, Linda Ronstadt
62. Peg, Steely Dan

63. You Needed Me, Anne Murray
64. Shame, Evelyn "Champagne" King
65. Reminiscing, Little River Band
66. Count On Me, Jefferson Starship
67. Baby Hold On, Eddie Money
68. Hey Deanie, Shaun Cassidy
69. Summer Nights, John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John
70. What's Your Name, Lynyrd Skynyrd
71. Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue, Crystal Gayle
72. Because The Night, Patti Smith
73. Every Kinda People, Robert Palmer

74. Copacabana, Barry Manilow
75. Always And Forever, Heatwave
76. You And I, Rick James

77. Serpentine Fire, Earth, Wind and Fire
78. Sentimental Lady, Bob Welch

79. Falling, LeBlanc and Carr
80. Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood, Santa Esmeralda
81. Bluer Than Blue, Michael Johnson
82. Running On Empty, Jackson Browne
83. Whenever I Call You "Friend", Kenny Loggins
84. Fool (If You Think It's Over), Chris Rea

85. Get Off, Foxy
86. Sweet Talking Woman, Electric Light Orchestra
87. Life's Been Good, Joe Walsh

88. I Love The Night Life, Alicia Bridges
89. You Can't Turn Me Off (In The Middle Of Turning Me On), High Inergy
90. It's So Easy, Linda Ronstadt
91. Native New Yorker, Odyssey
92. Flashlight, Parliament
93. Don't Look Back, Boston
94. Turn To Stone, Electric Light Orchestra
95. I Can't Stand The Rain, Eruption
96. Ebony Eyes, Bob Welch
97. The Name Of The Game, Abba

98. We're All Alone, Rita Coolidge
99. Hollywood Nights, Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band
100. Deacon Blues, Steely Dan

Good God, what a bunch of disco pop! And I have named Parliament's "Flash Light" as my favorite, but that distinction could go to several other cuts listed here, such as "Deacon Blues", "Hopelessly Devoted to You", "Short People", "With a Little Luck", and others...go ahead, call me on it in the comments!

Actually, most of the music I was listening to in 1978 had come out 4-5 years earlier, if I recall correctly.
In lieu of actual content (and I've been pecking away at some movie & comics pieces, please believe me), here's what I'll presumably be getting Wednesday per the new Diamond shipping list:

I just can't not buy all-Chaykin comics, and this took a upward tick with #4.
Is this arc over yet?
Mostly for Amanda Connor's art.
This one's gotten significantly more interesting as well.
Still not setting my world on fire, but I'm gonna be patient.
The final Bendis/Maleev arc begins. I'm looking forward to Brubaker & Lark, who should be great on this book.
Final issue of one of the best series of the year so far.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

For future reference:

SHANNA THE SHE-DEVIL 7 C- Entire series: C-
100 BULLETS 63 A-

LIVEWIRES 6 A Entire series: A

For my end-of 2005 best-of list, in case you were wondering.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Mellow greetings, fellow travelers! Just wanted to let you know that my latest LAST CALL column is now up over at Comic Book Galaxy. Reviewed this week: COURTNEY CRUMRIN TALES #1 (Yes! I finally got my copy!), LIVEWIRES #6, DEFENDERS #2, TOP 10: BEYOND THE FARTHEST PRECINCT #1, SEVEN SOLDIERS: KLARION #3, LUCIFER #65, and what has to be in the running for the what-the-fug book of the year so far, WHAT WERE THEY THINKING!?. Go, read all you want- I'll make more. Then go and comment at will at the CBG Last Call Forum! The redoubtable Chris Allen is also on hand with another interesting Breakdowns column, in which he takes a look at another of my MIA books, Peculia and the Groon Grove Vampires.

And now, for something completely different. To coin a phrase.

I was listening to RadioIo 70s on Wednesday, and heard a great cut from the album at left (clicky-click to see it all big like)- Baron Von Tollbooth and the Chrome Nun, a 1973 release by Paul Kantner, Grace Slick & David Freiberg, aka What Was Left of the Jefferson Airplane. Also featuring the great Papa John Creach on violin, after this album Kantner, Slick and Frieberg recruited some other musicians and reformed as the Jefferson Starship, releasing their magnificent 1974 LP Dragon Fly, a longtime favorite of mine. I never have really dug very deep into the Airplane/Slick/Kantner/Starship catalogue, probably because I hated the next Starship release, 1975's Red Octopus (just too much Marty Balin- can't stand his voice) and things went downhill from there. The pre-Starship post-Volunteers releases got slammed critically, as well, further dimming my enthusiasm and I clutched my well-worn copy of Dragon Fly and continued to say "Gee, if only...". Perhaps the Tollbooth album will be a good starting point, so I'll monitor eBay for a good quality vinyl copy and go from there. Think I'll look for Slick's 1974 solo release Manhole as well; anything from this collective in that 1971-74 period interests me greatly.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Image Hosted by
Like many media obsessed types around my age, I am fond of a short-lived TV show that aired in the 70's and starred Darren McGavin as a newspaper reporter who kept getting mixed up with occult goings-on.

Now, I'm delighted to announce that there's a brand-new blog devoted to all things Kolchak: KOCHALKAHOLIC!

Huh? What? Kochalka? Not Kolchak?

Oh. Heh. Never mind.

All seriousness aside, it's the place to be if James K. Superstar you want to see- and it's mostly written by ADD. Lovingly. Oh can't you see?

Uh, sorry, busting out into song there. Sorry. Really.

Which reminds me- the urban sprawl-like growth of the Comics Blogosphereiverse means that there are scads of worthwhile new C.B.'s popping up every day, it seems. And if you are the proud owner of one such blog, and I haven't linked to you, I apologize. The IT department here at the Show is fully aware of the situation, and will try to satisfy everyone eventually. That's our goal here at the Johnny Bacardi Show.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

I have just placed my first order, for books shipping in October, from Discount Comic Book Service.

My world as I know it has changed irrevocably.

Want some irony? One of the reasons for my decision to finally take this step is the fact that my comics shop has steadfastly refused to obtain books like Middle Man and Temporary for me. So in this month's order, they have Middle Man #4...and I'm thinking that I'll pass on MM and hope for a trade, so I didn't order it.

I'll still stop in at the LCS once in a while, especially when they have their sidewalk sales...but my days of driving across town and missing small-press titles are O-VAH. I hope.

I've paid extra for weekly shipping, so hopefully my review column's schedule won't be affected too much. My order, with shipping, the extra charge for weekly, and bags & boards, will be $87.32. At my LCS, all these books, with no discount and .13 for a bag-and-board combo each, would be $115.42, plus I won't have to make the drive anymore. All good, except I have to do something which I ordinarily hate- wait on mail.
Image Hosted by

Alan Moore & David Lloyd's V For Vendetta has, in the twenty-plus years since its initial publication, become one of those seminal works of the genre, like American Splendor, Maus, Dark Knight Returns, or any other you care to name...but sometimes it seems like it maintains the lowest profile of all of them, fitting considering its anonymous protagonist. Perhaps it's because it was done so long ago, at the beginning of Moore's career, and he's done so many noteworthy works since that it has gotten lost in the wake of Watchmen, From Hell, or Promethea, to name but a few...or perhaps it's because there are so many things going on in V's complicated narrative that many are daunted by it (I know that's the case with me, when I contemplated writing about it)...who can say. I have a feeling that this will change with the release of the upcoming motion picture adaptation, which Moore has already gone on record as disavowing any connection with, as he tends to do...and while I can understand, given Hollywood's track record with his intellectual properties so far, as someone who doesn't give a toss about whether it's "eggs in a basket" or "eggy in a basket", I'm not so sure that the basic concept won't hold up to the less than genteel treatment of the filmmaking community in general and the Wachowski Brothers in particular. But I'm getting ahead of myself- having had my curiosity provoked by the not-bad-looking trailer for the V film, I decided that it was high time I finally got around to picking up the source material and reading it for myself, so I could make an informed decision. And I know I won't be the only one who chooses to do this, so I would imagine that if DC promotes the thing at all, then sales of that 15-year-old trade collection will go up and renewed speculation will be cast upon it.

So for once, I'm going to be ahead of the curve!

Anyway, I'm sure many of you are familiar with the story, but just in case I'll try to give you a nutshell description. V For Vendetta was originally published from 1982 to 1985 in the British comic Warrior, which folded before Moore and Lloyd were able to bring it to some sort of conclusion. Then, in 1988, DC wanted to capitalize on Moore's US success with Swamp Thing and Watchmen, and invited him to conclude the series in a 10-issue series that reprinted the Warrior chapters, then Moore's all-new conclusion. V is set in a near-future dystopian London, where the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust has created a totalitarian one-party form of government in ol' Blighty, complete with the standard suppression of free thought and what the Powers That Be consider deviant lifestyles, i.e. non-Aryan homosexual. There is also State-run television and radio and experimentation on undesirables, in short, everything one needs for the perfect 1984 slash Nazi-ish regime. And it's one of those undesirables who escapes and becomes the terrorist/anarchist Codename V, a person of undetermined gender who makes it his/her own personal life's work to poke holes in the balloon of this tyranny via explosions in key landmarks of Great Britain a la Guy Fawkes, and systematic executions of ranking members of the fascist hierarchy.

We first meet V when, on his way to blow up the Houses of Parliament, he rescues young Evey Hammonds from being raped and possibly killed by a group of police whom she unknowingly solicited for sex to make some money to survive on. Bombing done, he takes Evey to his lair where she tells him her life story, helpfully providing the reader with the whys and wherefores of the world they live in. As V continues his campaign, it's apparent that Evey is being groomed to carry on his work, even though he lets her walk away at one point in the narrative and even try to live a normal life as the lover of a criminal who cares about her just the same. Which is not to say that this becomes a cliched romance, or a dreary Stockholm Scenario...Moore's smarter than that. Anyway, for a complete synopsis, with spoilers, you can go to the Wikipedia entry, which will save me the trouble of completely rehashing the book for you!

Moore really lays on the sociological and political commentary throughout the course of this book; it's a testament to his genius, even early on in his career, that he's able to leaven it with appropriate dramatics- such as the case of a letter, found by Evey when she's apparently captured and interrogated by the Party, from a presumably deceased lesbian actress named Valerie, (places and names which start with "V" are a recurring motif) which inspires her to resist her captors. It's simultaneously an indictment of prejudice and hatred, an inspiring character moment, and advances the plot since this Valerie had significance to V him/herself. And the book is full of moments like that- male chauvinism and tyranny and female self-worth are examined in the subplot with Rose Almond, widow of a policeman who was killed by V, to name another example. And while he's doing this, he gives us a fine adventure yarn, with V and his machinations- he's a lot like a socially conscious Batman or the Shadow as he manipulates and executes the oppressors of his beloved country. It's wonderful that Moore never lets us see V's face- it reinforces the mystery and also plants the suggestion that anyone could rise up and oppose suppression and tyranny.

On the negative side, the scientific and social notions in its very premise are flawed; Moore admits as much in his preface in the trade. Not a big problem, but it's a chink in the armor. The "musical" interlude in which V plays and sings the song "This Vicious Cabaret" really brings the narrative to a grinding halt...but then again I tend to not care for that sort of scene in the first place, and you might not be bothered by it. Fortunately, it's brief. Also, the narrative shows the signs of its initial serialization and the gap in between the demise of the Warrior issues and the DC-commissioned conclusion- there are so many characters and so much which is going on both overtly and covertly that it came across to me sometimes as somewhat disjointed and episodic- not so much as to be a major liability, but somewhat distracting just the same. The jacket fits just fine, but the stitches are showing. I was also finding myself at a loss, upon occasion, when trying to remember which middle-age white guy was which- I had to go back and re-read a chapter or two once or twice. Some blame for this has to be assigned to artist Lloyd, who didn't go to a lot of effort to provide clearly distinct visuals for many of these characters, going instead for a generic comic-book man/woman style. Which is not to say that all the characters are done this way, but enough to where I wish he'd tried a little harder on that account.

Otherwise, though, Lloyd's contribution is outstanding. And I say this while freely admitting that it was my perception of his art style that kept me from picking this up in the first place, when DC published it in the late '80s- something about the style which didn't appeal to me at the time, and you all know how important the visual aspect of any work of sequential fiction is to me. Anyway, I'm a little more tolerant now than I was then- and I will say that Lloyd turns in a mostly excellent job, rendering this in a thickly-inked style that suggests a chiarascuro approach. His depiction of the title character himself is brilliant- a caped figure, dressed like a swashbuckling hero from an adventure story or movie, and sporting a Guy Fawkes mask, giving him a definite air of mystery and panache. He's never going to be included in a list of good-girl artists either; his females are all awkwardly proportioned, gawky people, and this may be intentional in an expressionistic way, don't know. I haven't seen too much else by Lloyd, other than an issue here or there of titles like Global Frequency or Hellblazer, and I don't remember them at all so it didn't leave much of an impression, obviously. Lloyd is a solid craftsman and flashes moments of brilliance in this book, though- he doesn't cohere with Moore as brilliantly as Dave Gibbons did on Watchmen, but it's difficult to imagine any other artist doing a better job on this story. Maybe it's just the way I tend to perceive this sort of work from across the pond, but I got that definite Avengers/Prisoner/Hammer Studios feel. In fact, according to Moore, it was Lloyd who first approached him with the concept in the first place. Good call!

All things being equal, this is quite a outstanding graphic novel. I wish it had been tighter in places, that's no fault of the creators, though. There's a lot of food for thought in V For Vendetta, and sadly, its scenarios are still not all that far-fetched- especially here in the U.S., with its repressive and narrow minded policies and the general nationwide mood as it skews towards rejection of any sort of divergent lifestyle or religious choice and its xenophobia. Bet your life that the Bush administration would not be happy with Codename V working his havoc in this post-9/11 world. And, if the movie can channel this notion in any way, it might just be an aesthetic success if not a box-office one.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usIf you haven't done so already, I definitely recommend reading V now, so you won't be discouraged if the movie follows in the footsteps of other Moore adaptations. Kinda wish I had done so a long time ago.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Comics I'm supposed to be getting this week, per the latest Diamond shipping list:

TOP TEN: BEYOND THE FARTHEST PRECINCT #1 (I wasn't gonna get this...but...geez, it's Top 10!)



I'll pick this up if I see it, but I seriously doubt I will- see it, that is:


And that's it!
Here's the V For Vendetta piece. I'll be posting it here tomorrow or Wednesday.

More later when I get the chance.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Another Saturday night and all I got is some random stuff n'junk, nothing heavy.

I'm considering writing a Wikipedia entry for the DC series Thriller. Why the hell not? There are worse callings than to be a Thriller expert!

I have indeed written my V For Vendetta piece, but it will debut at Cmic Book Galaxy on Monday, or so I'm told. Look for it here on Tuesday.

Today, I won an auction for this CD. Those who know me well will be mildly surprised, but I have been known to listen to this artist upon occasion, and after hearing two songs from it, I liked them a lot as well as the album cover art (fie upon downloading!), so I decided I had to have it.

I also went to the Bowling Green Library today, to return and/or re-check out this book, which I had checked out because one, I hadn't read it, and two, they didn't have this book, which was the one I was interested in when I first went in two weeks ago. But lo and behold, they had it today- so did I return the former? Nah- I checked 'em BOTH out, and I hope I'll have time to make a dent in 'em. These days, things are so hectic with me that it makes me sleepy to try and get wrapped up in a good long novel, which is why my reading is slacking these days.

I've also been listening a lot to a CD I've had for a few years now, Me'Shell Ndegeocello's Bitter. It took me a while to really get the gist of that album; it's a low-key, glum, jazzy exercise that finds her dwelling on a lot of negative feelings- jealousy, bitterness, betrayal- and quite often the strings-percussion-bass-piano-occasional guitar arrangements are so static and placid that if you don't pay attention your mind will wander. But if you do, and it took a couple of late-night listens driving home from work, you'll be rewarded with a minor-key masterpiece. The melodies are strong enough to support the resigned vibe, and it's extremely successful at evoking the moods I'm sure she set out to evoke. It's also got a very nice cover of Jimi Hendrix's "May This Be Love", which features a surging middle-eastern-sounding string accompaniment. Unfortunately, the album was a stiff, sales-wise, no big surprise there, so it's gone unnoticed and she's pretty much reverted to more uptempo jazz-influenced funk since. In all fairness, I've only heard random cuts from the two subsequent releases, so it could be that these cohere better than they seem, but nothing I've heard sounds like Bitter. If you see this one in the discount or used bins (and I've seen more than a few copies), you could do worse than give this a shot if you're looking for something with a late-night/early morning feel.

I saw Elektra today. Didn't hate it! More when I do the next Johnny B Heart Netflix. Coming soon: The Incredibly Strange Creatures That Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies!.

OK, that's all for now. I've got liberry books to read. Good night.
I'm sorry, I get the joke and all that, but who the hell uses a flyswatter to kill ants?

Members of the Top 10 precinct as written by someone who isn't Alan Moore, apparently.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Just wanted to let you know that the new LAST CALL is up over at Comic Book Galaxy! In it, I take a look at 100 BULLETS #63, FABLES #40, SEVEN SOLDIERS: ZATANNA #3, WINTERMEN #1, G.I. SPY #1 and SHANNA THE SHE DEVIL #7. You gotta check out Wintermen, if you haven't already- it rocked my world!

No Courtney Crumrin Tales, no Peculia and the Groon Grove Vampires. No Middle Man, either. Me patience is about at an end.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Image Hosted by

My friend Dave Puckett, who has an uncommon and idiosyncratic (I love that word- "idiosyncratic"- can'tcha tell?) style, has started up a new blog with which he is spotlighting his new story "A Puck's Tale", of which the above is a panel of same. I've been wanting to link to some of his sequential work for a while now, and here's my chance!

Honestly, I'm usually pretty good about seeing an artist's style and saying "Oh, yeah, there's some Toth influence. Or Adams. Or..."- but I really can't quite pin Dave's down. Sometimes I think it's a little like S.Clay Wilson of underground comics fame, definitely underground influenced, but that's not quite it.

Go- click on the panel above, check it out, see what you think, and give him some feedback, whydoncha?
For those of us that were wondering what had happened to the proposed Buckaroo Banzai comic series from Moonstone, Here are some preview images.

Gotta say, though, that I'm a bit disappointed. I was hoping they'd find a more idiosyncratic artist to illustrate it, not someone whose work appears to be as run-of-the-mill as this. Aah, it's Moonstone, what was I thinking? Other that Trevor Von Eeden, their artists have tended to be very ordinary.

By the way, while I'm thinking about it, be advised that I'll be putting NFL stuff up over on the LiveJournal Show this year, and that includes my Fearless NFL Pigskin Prognostications. In fact, I've posted the first of many NFL-related postages this very day! Go! Check it, boyee!

Monday, August 08, 2005

Right on schedule, it's the new Diamond shipping list and my theoretical haul according to it...

100 BULLETS #63

And hopefully the PECULIA & THE GROON GROVE VAMPIRES GN (I don't recall if I signed up for it, and it's a 50-50 shot that my LCS ordered it)

And I'm holding out hope for COURTNEY CRUMRIN TALES #1. I've given up on getting MIDDLE MAN #1 and BANANA SUNDAY #1, guess I'll wait for the trade.
Well, hello there!

Been a while, I know. I was offline for a couple of days there, except at work, and unfortunately my brain's been kinda offline as well for longer than that. I don't know if I'll have anything else anytime soon, but I can let you know that my prodigal Last Call review column is up over at CBG, and if you can ignore my coding mistakes, you'll be subjected to my thoughts on SMOKE AND GUNS, GOTHAM CENTRAL 34, AMAZING FANTASY 11, and SERENITY 2. Several other great columns, with fewer mistakes, up over there today as well! Also, Fearless Leader Alan David Doane is holding a fundraiser, in which he's selling a bunch of cool stuff for a pretty decent price! Go HERE for the list.

On a related note, I took advantage of my LCS' 25% off sale to pick up the trade paperbacks I'd been hoarding- ESSENTIAL KILLRAVEN, and BILL & TED Vol. 2...and I also picked up a copy of what the indicia says is the seventh printing of the 1990 trade collection of V FOR VENDETTA, having never read it before and having had my curiosity piqued by the upcoming film. I finished it last night, and haven't really had a chance to wrap my head around it just yet...but I think I'll consult this handy-dandy annotations website before I attempt to write anything.

For future reference:
HELLBOY: THE ISLAND 2 A Entire series A
AMAZING FANTASY 11 C+ (Vampire By Night: B+)

Alrighty then. Back later with the ever-popular Diamond shipping list and the books I'll be getting from it this week.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The Great Ongoing Home Repair Project (GOHRP) is in full vigour which means I've been ripping up our old carpet (while wearing a safesuit and with a full E.T. like Hazmat setup surrounding our home, it's that foul) for the last couple of evenings- and for someone who's become as sedentary as I, it's a ballbreaker, let me tell you. Of course, the new floor looks wonderful so my muscles ache just an iota less.

Anyway, the upshot is that posting will be light for the next couple of days- even lighter than it's been lately. Please bear with. I'm hoping I can get my Last Call column over at CBG done, but even that's in doubt right now.

In the meantime, go here for a beautiful Hope Larson illo of characters from her Gray Horses series, as well as a thought-provoking question about indie floppy pamphlets; and go here to vote for Zooey Deschanel to star as Gypsy in the Absorbacon's JLDetroit/Vibe movie! Vote in force, because you all KNOW how much I love that character, and if I say Zooey is the one for the part, then you KNOW she's the one!

Also, Karin Kross, the estimable Comicbookslut, has written a thought-provoking piece about the SDCC and the almost hysterical need many feel to get children to read comics, since apparently no child will grow up and read them as an adult. Go here!

Monday, August 01, 2005

And now, once more we perform that most terrifying of rituals- what's Johnny B gonna have in his holds this Wednesday, according to the new Diamond shipping list?!?


aaaand...that's it!

Of course, there's still the

ESSENTIAL KILLRAVEN TPB, three weeks in my folder and counting (25% off sale August 6!),and
BILL & TED'S MOST EXCELLENT ADVENTURES VOLUME 2, which came in last week- to my mild surprise since I didn't think I had signed up for it.

Something else I'm not sure if I signed up for is BAMBI & HER PINK GUN GN VOL 1, since I already have a preview copy, which I LOVED and you all know what a difficult sell I am for manga so I'm tellin ya to pick this up. It will be the best $12.95 you ever spent, fo shizzle.

Finally, the MIA list:

THE MIDDLE MAN #1 (#2 will be out soon, I'm sure, rattin frattin brattin comics shop...)
The eagerly awaited return of JOHNNY B HEART NETFLIX!

Image Hosted by

I've been a movie-watching crazy man over the last few weeks. What have I seen, you ask? Well, let me tell you. ** means I saw it on cable instead of DVD.

Two SoCal men, one, a recently divorced, still in love with his ex, depressed, neurotic wine aficionado named Milo (Harvey Pe-, I mean Paul Giamatti), the other an aging small-time actor named Jack (Thomas Hayden Church) who's been in a couple of soaps and has done a few commercial voice-overs (mostly disclaimers), decide to go on a road trip together through California's wine country, ostensibly to sample a lot of good wine and give Jack a good sendoff before his upcoming wedding. Problem is, perpetually adolescent Jack sees this as an opportunity to get their party on and get laid, much to Milo's chagrin. And of course, complications ensue. This is a wonderful film- smart, witty, involving, with gorgeous scenery and very well acted by the ensemble cast which includes Virginia Madsen (in what has to be her best role in years) as a wine-savvy waitress and friend of Milo's and the excellent-as-always Sandra Oh as a free-spirit pour girl who falls for Jack. Perhaps it's because this seems geared towards people in my age group, can't say for sure, but I came away thinking that this was the best movie I've seen in a long time. A+

Sometimes, I think I become more enamored of the idea behind a story than I am the execution of same; here's a good case in point. Steamboy, the latest from Akira's Katsuhiro Atomo, has a great idea for its premise- a boy genius, one of a family of scientists, having adventures in 19th century Great Britain where everything is powered by steam. The visuals are amazing, no less than you'd expect from the man behind Akira and Metropolis..but after a decent beginning, the story devolves into a lot of shouting (why do Western actors always feel the need, when voicing over anime, to try to fill in all the grunts and groans that are a part of Japanese speech?) and explosions, and treats all the could-have-been-plentiful character interaction as a nuisance, to be touched upon lightly then cast aside for more cool machinery and steampuffs. The voice work, despite all the oohs, ughs and aaahs, is nicely done by a trio of unlikely gaijin: Anna Paquin as Steamboy, Alfred Molina as SB's father (I thought it was Jim Broadbent until I read the credits), and Patrick Stewart as his grandfather. The end credits are shown against a backdrop of images that suggest that there are further Steamboy adventures to be had; I'd love to see them but only if someone pays more attention to the story and less to making it look like the coolest video game ever. B

I had a co-worker tell me that she sat through this oddball movie and never cracked a smile. I thought it was hilarious throughout; and what that says about me I leave for others to speculate on. It's a surreal little high-school misfit film where everyone seems to be at least a little mentally challenged, even the jocks and cheerleaders, and while our boy Napoleon comes out ahead in the end, you're still a little embarrassed for him even as you cheer him on. The hard part's going to be keeping from annoying my friends and family by exhaling slowly and saying exasperatedly "idiots"! A

A subject so ripe for lampooning as the Beatles requires members of the 70's Saturday Night Live troupe, Eric Idle of Monty Python, and the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band to do it justice, and they almost pull it off despite a tiny budget and a lot of jokes I wish they'd chosen with a bit more care. Still, the faux Fabs songs (released as a separate album, which I've owned on 8-track and vinyl and still listen to fairly often) are pretty good, especially "I Must Be in Love", "Let's Be Natural" and "Cheese and Onions", there are several fun cameos including George Harrison himself, and for every two targets they miss they hit one in very funny fashion. Surprisingly, despite the presence of Belushi, Ackroyd, Gilda Radner, and Mick Jagger, this aired to rock-bottom ratings in 1978, and that was the last time I saw it myself, so I was happy to get the chance again. Don't exactly know just what it was about the Rutles. Must have been the trousers. B+

I think if I was about 20 years younger, with unresolved parental issues, this would have resonated more with me- but as it was I still found it a well-done tale of twentysomething disaffection, with some clever camera work and good performances by writer/director/lead Zach Braff and Natalie Portman, who apparently is a much better actress when not appearing in Star Wars flicks. I don't have a burning desire to see this ever again, but I can unreservedly recommend it to the curious. A-

I've never read the Douglas Adams book on which this was based, so I had no preconceived notions of what this should have been going in- I think if I had, though, I'd be really disappointed. It's clever, imaginative, and unique...but it was just so relentlessly quirky and hyperactively paced that I found it wearing after about an hour or so and got really restless before it was over. And although I'm sure a ton of money was probably spent on effects and such, the film still had a shoddy, low-budget look to me. The performances were all fine, and Zooey Deschanel is charming, but really only over-the-top Sam Rockwell as Zaphod Beeblebrox made a lasting impression...and part of that impression was to smack him over the nose with a rolled up newspaper, he was so hopped-up and manic. Overall, I was entertained despite the "look at me, I'm so clever and wise" tone, but not blown away and it will probably take another screening before I make up my mind. Fortunately, I only paid a buck-fifty to see it at the second-run movie theater here in town- I might be less charitable if I had paid $8 or more. B-

This is a deadpan, dull, far-fetched film with a few chuckles here and there, a nice low-key performance by Bill Murray, and some imaginatively done visuals. Also good to see Jeff Goldblum in a significant part, it seems like he's been less and less visible in high-profile films for years now. As with Hitchhiker's, after a while the constant quirkiness grew tiresome, even though I was amused sporadically by many of the silly set pieces, such as the pirate raid on Zissou's ship. I think it's just a case, for me, of just not getting Wes Anderson- I didn't think Rushmore was all that great either, and I was definitely in the minority there as well. C+

OK, that's it for now...plenty more left to opine upon!