Archive for November 27, 2003

Now THAT’S something to be thankful for

November 27, 2003

Let’s hear it for the National Dog Show, on your local NBC affiliate! Bichons, baby! Lots of ’em!

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

Sadly, this entry is comics-related

November 26, 2003

The other day, a good friend of mine who’s half Jewish said matter of factly that he’s of the belief that within 10-15 years, we’ll see another Holocaust. I was surprised to find myself not entirely in disagreement. Anyone who’s been following European (and of course Muslim) political discourse recently could tell you of the shocking level of Jew-hatred that’s pretty much taken for granted at this point.

Case in point: this cartoon has just won an award from the British Political Cartoon Society. I know, I know, we go through this little two-step every time some hack shits out a sledgehammer-subtle indictment of Ariel Sharon & Israel–“he’s criticizing a man/a government, not being an anti-Semite!” And as usual, I call bullshit: Anti-Semitism has always presented “legitimate” political concerns as a false face (anti-capitalism, anti-Communism, pacifism, protectionism, and on and on). Moreover, such cartoons inevitably tap into a centuries-deep resevoir of anti-Jew imagery (hook noses, money-grubbing, puppet-mastery, the blood libel), or compare the Jewish state to the anti-Jewish state, namely Nazi Germany, or indeed swipe ideas directly from the Nazis themselves. And this one, in which Ariel Sharon is show devouring a Palestinian baby, is no exception. However noxious you happen to find Sharon or his policies, this is the equivalent of, say, drawing Colin Powell in a loincloth, chucking a spear at Iraq while raping a white woman. It’s anti-Semitism in its new, more respectable outfit: anti-Israelism. So much classier than brown shirts and armbands, isn’t it?

But what’s even more troubling than the fact that this cartoon was drawn and then published by people who one imagines are not drunken skinheads but respected members of the political journalism community, is that that same community saw fit to say that this is The Best of what they have to offer. The cartoon came out and was widely criticized, and you know what the British Political Cartoon Society thought? They thought that not only did this cartoon deserve to be defended, but that a message needed to be sent to the world at large: This is truth. This is courage. This is the way the world should be viewed. We should look at a drawing that would be at home in the most grotesque propaganda of pogroms and Inquisitions past, and think to ourselves, “bravo.”

It’s got me thinking something very, very different.

Personal to Tegan Gjovaag

November 26, 2003

I’m not trying to contribute to the whole “argu[ing] endlessly” bit here, but the fact that even intelligent comics fans still feel comfortable calling manga formatting a “trend” is pretty much why the industry’s in so much trouble in the first place….

Comix and match

November 26, 2003

David Fiore responds to the minor tizzy he worked the collective comics blogosphere (yours truly included) into with his posts in favor of the mainstream-company superhero-property model of storytelling. Basically, he says, “my bad!” He says he didn’t mean to give the impression that this mode of narrative production is the tops, just that it’s a lot more interesting than many writers are giving it credit for. I’ll certainly grant him that–some of this stuff is just crazy. I think many “serious” art scholars might look at it the same way they look at “outsider art,” which is probably the last thing Dave has in mind, but honestly, there’s genuine formal weirdness inherent in this kind of storytelling that belies its critics’ claims that it’s all adolescent power-fantasy simple-mindedness.

Also on the Fiore beat is Matt O’Rama, who works himself up into an unseemly lather over Dave’s use of critical-theory vocab but scores some as-yet unanswered points against Dave’s assertion that authors lack, uh, authority over their creations.

Shawn Fumo attempts to analyze Marvel’s latest actions toward The World At Large. For those of us who want the company to succeed, the moves can be baffling, but I know that there are enough smart people in there to actually make some progress given time and latitude.

Eve Tushnet reviews Ito, Moore, and Millar. Her comments about Ultimate X-Men are particularly enjoyable. That book really did provide some highly entertaining ass-kicking popsplosive bang for the buck.

Lotsa yuks over at Derek Martinez‘s place, who’s rounded up the good, the bad, and the ugly of the year in comics. (Link courtesy of ADD; Derek, I’ve got no idea why I hadn’t blogrolled you, but consider that problem rectified.)


Kevin Melrose discusses the sad level of bare-minimum suggestions for comics retailers to improve their image. It’s funny, because it’s true.

Mick Martin needs manga recommendations. Help him out, and tell ‘im Sean T. sent you!

Finally, my Thanksgiving suggestion to you: Give thanks for good comics! Sitting on my bookshelves right now are unread copies of Dave McKean’s Cages, Chris Ware’s Quimby the Mouse, and two volumes worth of George Herriman’s Krazy Kat. I’ve still got half of Gilbert Hernandez’s Palomar, Jim Woodring’s The Frank Book, and Ben Katchor’s Julius Knipl: Real Estate Photographer to go through. And if that’s not enough, I can flip through my already-read copies of various books I got this year, like Unstable Molecules, Clumsy, Unlikely, AEIOU, Diary of a Teenage Girl, Blankets, Kramers Ergot 4, Teratoid Heights, Shrimpy & Paul and Friends, Battle Royale, Tomie, Ripple, 100%, DK2, New X-Men, Ultimate X-Men, Rubber Necker, Powers, Alias, Daredevil, Ultimate Spider-Man, The Ultimates, Incredible Hulk, Truth, Born, Vikings, Forlorn Funnies, Tepid, Big Questions, Chrome Fetus, Amazing Spider-Man, Savage Dragon, Astro City, The Filth, and on and on and on, to say nothing of older stuff I first came across in the past 365. We comics fans (can’t believe I’m using that formation, but there you have it) really do have a lot to be thankful for, if we’re lucky enough to know where to look.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!


November 26, 2003

I just heard the following phrase:

“Despite President Bush’s campaign promise to avoid nation-building…”

…as a lead-in to a story on Iraqi and Afghan reconstruction. Gee, what a liar that Bush is, huh? I mean, it’s not like anything happened since he became President that might make him reconsider his foreign policy stance, right?

“Sorry for the inconvenience, Ms. Braun–you’re free to go”

November 26, 2003

Is it weird that I tend to respond only to those political issues that find their way into the comics blogosphere? I think it’s weird.

Jim Henley and Jason Kimble are up in arms that the U.S. military has arrested the wife and daughter of Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, one of Saddam Hussein’s seemingly countless right-hand men and the theoretical instigator of much of the ongoing insurgency/terrorist campaign. I think my difference of opinion with Jim and Jason can be summed up pretty neatly like thus: Jim (at least; don’t know enough about Jason) assumes that the army generally acts wrongly; I tend to give them the benefit of the doubt, believing that they’ve learned that the kind of brutal and stupid tactics employed during many 20th century wars not only look bad, but are militarily inefficient. But beyond that general difference in philosophy, why is it so inconceivable that al-Douri’s wife and daughter may have done something wrong themselves? Hell, in the U.S. itself, I think they should be throwing the ghoulish wife of ghoulish CEOs like Tyco’s Dennis Koslowski in prison right along with her hubby, as she is fully complicit in the looting he did. We don’t know the specifics of the al-Douri situation (again, perhaps this brings us back to the larger philosophical difference between Jim and myself) but at the very least his family can reasonably be suspected of knowing where he is, making them material witnesses; moreover, they are likely in possession of stolen goods and funds, and may well be implicated in some of his crimes as well. “Collective punishment” isn’t an applicable term if the people you’re punishing have actually done things deserving of punishment.

Living the high life

November 25, 2003

So I’m at the X-Men 2 DVD release party at Jay-Z’s 40/40 club last night (well, that was a hoot to see in print) and it occurred to me, it’s not very hard to be Mark Ronson, is it? I enjoyed the set he spun, but seriously, I could have played Wu-Tang’s “Pinky Ring” into the Stone Roses’s “Fool’s Gold” into the Rolling Stones’s “Emotional Rescue” easily enough, and for a lot less than $5000 an hour, too. “Pass That Dutch” into “Once in a Lifetime”? Happens in my iTunes every day, folks. This cat is like the patron saint of twentysomething rock nerds.

Author, author!

November 25, 2003

David Fiore, God bless ‘im, has been breathing some rareified air of late: In a couple of posts, he essentially argues that the best art is like big-company supercomics–never-ending, closure-free, static characters, obsessively concerned with minute variations on a very limited number of themes, and without an author to speak of. I wholeheartedly agree, which is why I’ve advanced my theory that General Hospital is the finest narrative work of the 20th century.

I kid!

I appreciate what Dave’s saying on some level–formally, at least, “normal” mainstream genre-comic storytelling is interesting, insofar as it’s so goddamn bizarre. But the assertion that it’s superior to narrative art as we know it in virtually every other form (aside from soap operas, and perhaps professional wrestling) is so transparently ludicrous to me that I wonder if I’m missing something. Hey, I like superhero comics as much, if not more, than the next guy, but I like superhero comics by certain people, and when those certain people stop working on a given superhero comic, I tend to not like that comic anymore. As characters/concepts, some of the superheroes are pretty fascinating–which is, I suppose, why I tried out works featuring them and subsequently discovered good authors in the first place–but privileging them over the people who write and draw them? That way lies madness! I mean, we’re basically talking about favoring run-of-the-mill post-Lee/Kirby/Ditko Marvel fare (it’s got to be “run of the mill,” since we’re rejecting the influence of the author, so those cries of “what about XXX’s run on XXX” will be unheeded, thanks!) over, say, Chris Ware (or Alan Moore or Frank Miller or Grant Morrison, by the way). I understand that it’s difficult to reach an objective standpoint in art criticism, but, uh, c’mon.

Moreover, despite what Dave suggests, when freed from the constraints of the product-producing mainstream machine, creators do have godlike control over their creations. They can’t control viewer reactions, obviously, but viewer reactions change what’s on the page not one whit. What’s there is what’s there is what’s there.

John Jakala has some further thoughts on this, focusing on David’s rejection of endings. Listen, we’ve all been burned by a lousy ending, but we’ve all been burned by lousy beginnings, too. Should we just give up writing, then? Dave, I’m glad you’re enjoying the trees and all, but there’s a whole forest out there!

Wherever we’re opened, we’re red

November 24, 2003

Terriffic interview with Clive Barker over at his official fan site, Lost Souls. This one gives a progress report on virtually every project the man’s working on these days, and there’s something like two dozen of them. Most promising among them are a film version of the masterful short stories “The Midnight Meat Train” and “Dread,” originally from his Books of Blood anthologies; the “final” Hellraiser/Pinhead story he’s been talking about writing for some time now; plans for further installments in the three (!) series of novels still ongoing in his ouevre–the Abarat Quartet, the Galilee saga, and the Books of the Art; and the first rumblings of a mythological-in-scope series he plans on beginning in his late 50s, a Tolkien-like endeavor which he promises will dwarf everything else he’s done. C’mon, Clive–we don’t have eternity!

Forever and ever, amen

November 24, 2003

Floppies/Pamphlets/Singles stink

Manga is the future



UPDATE: John Jakala has expressed to me his wish that I’d written the above in haiku format. Eager to throw him some sort of bone (since that whole comments-feature thing just ain’t gonna happen), and seeing as I’m not one ever to turn down the opportunity to write haiku:


a haiku by Sean T. Collins

Manga’s the future

Pamphlets/Floppies/Singles stink

Lather, rinse, repeat

Alan David Don’t

November 24, 2003

I’ve always wanted to use that as an entry title. It doesn’t have anything to do with what I’m actually going to say, but it’s pretty amusing, no?

Anyway, Alan David Doane has written up his picks for the Best Comics of 2003. I’m glad that he ignored all the cavilling that goes on about whether or not reprints or first-time collections count as having come out in a particular year. If you can’t count The Frank Book, Palomar, and Quimby the Mouse in a Best-Of list due to some technicality, it’s really not much of a Best-Of list, is it?

I agree with pretty much all the books he’s selected that I myself have read (I’ll reserve judgement on League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Volume II till I read it in its collected form, however; issue by issue I found it relatively disappointing). I do feel that he’s overselling Mother, Come Home by Paul Hornschemeier a bit. Visually, the book’s frankly incredible, and it’s inspiring to see a relatively young cartoonist attempt a work of such ambition. However, I think that towards the end Hornschemeier’s desire to deliver an emotional knock-out punch forces the story off the tracks of believability a bit. Like Craig Thompson’s Blankets, this is a gorgeous, involving, moving, but not-perfect work, one that I’m reasonably certain will be surpassed by its creator in his subsequent efforts.

I might come up with a list of my own, provided I develop the attention span to look through what I bought this year to figure out what actually was released this year–a possibility, if not necessarily a strong one. I’ll tell you right off the bat that Mat Brinkman’s Teratoid Heights and Marc Bell’s Shrimpy & Paul and Friends would be near the top of the list, and Bendis and Morrison’s genre work (particularly Daredevil, The Filth, Powers, and New X-Men) would be represented pretty highly as well. But till then, if you’re looking for Christmas shopping ideas for the irredeemable nerd in your life, Alan’s list is as good a place to start as you’re likely to find.

This is pretty awesome

November 21, 2003

Once they find these guys, who I think it’s safe to assume have not aged at all due to their ingestion of an elixir derived from hidden jungle herbs, they should have them take their ancient warrior skills and hunt for the Abominable Snowman. Does this not make sense to everyone?

Two tussles

November 21, 2003

1) Ol’ Dirk Deppey gives Brian Bendis quite the ribbing today about the superhero scribe’s description of his upcoming Secret Wars project. Personally I think Dirk’s being unfair. Yes, Bendis’s choice of words–“A gritty real world take on the idea of a secret superhero war”–is, ahem, unfortunate. But Bendis’s work to date has evinced none of the ghastly, unimaginative, dreary cliches that his dopey phraseology calls to mind. We’ve seen any number of mindless atrocities in comic-book form touted as “gritty, real-world takes on superheroes”; I’d like to give Bendis the benefit of the doubt that this won’t be one of them.

2) The ongoing effort to shoot the zombie that is pamphlet-format comics in the goddamn head once and for all, most recently taken up by Franklin Harris, has met a couple of opponents, namely Johnny Bacardi and Tegan Gjovaag. Johnny and Tegan rightly point out that floppy comics are easy enough to travel with (I’ve taken many on airplanes myself; like Johnny, I bag-and-board mine, so they’re both thin and relatively durable). Tegan also deflates Franklin’s argument that collectability makes floppies too precious to actually read. Franklin alleges that today’s small print runs equate to big bucks later on, but he overlooks the fact that those small print runs all end up in the hands of anal-retentive bag-and-boarders (ahem) who are convinced that their copies of the Death of Superman will put their kids through college one day. Beyond the artificial demand created by things like Wizard’s price guides, most floppies won’t be worth much of anything. So hey, read ’em all you want!

But these little niceties, alas, amount to a fart in a hurricane compared to the overwhelming evidence that the world at large has less than no use for the stupid things. Tegan claims that “the form has worked for well over 50 years. Tegan, define “working well,” would you? No one buys them except a coterie of, what, 250,000 or so diehards in an increasingly insular market whose idea of growth seems to consist largely of puffing up its cheeks as it thrusts its head in the sand. The comics that sell in big numbers–manga–and the comics that make a big pop-cultural impact–trades and graphic novels–are unsurprisingly in a totally different, much more book-like format. That’s what the kids are reading, and to quote Mrs. Bobby Brown, I believe the children are our future. And then there’s the whole angle of cost-effectivness–don’t make me break out The Manga Stack of Intimidation

Stuart Moore has detailed all the reasons that the industry is stuck with pamphlets, largely thanks to the backwardness of its current audience and retailership. But just because we have to rely on them now doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be looking to, and planning for, and doing our best to bring about, the future.

Memo random

November 20, 2003

I’m glad to see that non-bloggers are beginning to pick up on the Weekly Standard’s leaked-memo story, originally reported by Stephen Hayes. Here’s Slate’s Jack Shafer, arguing persuasively that the allegations of a link between Saddam Hussein’s Baathist Iraq and Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda terrorists proferred by the memo merit attention and scrutiny by the major media; Here’s Newsweek’s Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball paying the memo just that, but finding it wanting.

And while we’re at it, here’s Hayes’s rebuttal to the Defense Department’s quasi-dismissal of the the memo story. And as a supplement, here’s Slate’s Edward Epstein describing exactly why the jury’s still out on the much-ridiculed notion of the Prague meeting between 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta and an Iraqi intelligence agent.

I, for one, am glad to see this stuff being discussed again anywhere, and am saddened that it still hasn’t become the major story it deserves to be in the mainstream press. Yes, I tend to credit the notion that Saddam and al Qaeda were acquainted with one another’s operations, for several reasons. The specious argument that Saddam is secular and bin Laden fundamentalist and never the twain shall meet is belied not just by their sharing of a common and far-more-hated enemy (the U.S.), or by Saddam’s increasing tilt towards Islamism himself (adding the Koranic verse to Iraq’s flag, writing a Koran with ink containing his own blood, the constant language of jihad and infidels he employed on every occasion), or by the fact that despite their much-touted animosity for one another bin Laden never once took action against Saddam

Hell hath no fury like a Treacher scorned

November 20, 2003

And when you hear your master,

You will come a little faster, thanks to

Bitch School

Bitch School

(Gonna have to send you back to)

Bitch School

Spinal Tap, “Bitch School”


November 20, 2003

Could be that a lot, and I mean a LOT, of blogging will occur today. Could be. We’ll see.

A note from me to you

November 20, 2003

Attention viewers of Hope & Faith: I know what you’re thinking. You’re sitting there week after week, watching this loud, basically unfunny sitcom, wondering “why am I doing this?”, but in your heart of hearts, you know exactly why. You’re hoping that Kelly Ripa and Faith Ford will start making out. Listen. It’d be great if they started making out. I hope they’ll start making out. Regis Philbin and Candace Bergen hope they’ll start making out. Everyone hopes they’ll start making out, but the fact is, they’re not going to start making out. They play sisters, and it’s gross for sisters to start making out, no matter what those Coors commercials with the twins seem to be implying, and so even though they’re not sisters in real life and it would be totally, totally awesome to see them sensually explore one another with Blur playing in the background like a hyperactively blonde version of Sarah Michelle Gellar and Selma Blair in Cruel Intentions, they are not going to do it. Ever. So forget it.

Attention viewers of Gilmore Girls: I know what you’re thinking. You’re sitting there week after week, watching this strident, maddeningly dialogued dramedy, wondering “why am I doing this?”, but in your heart of hearts, you know exactly why. You’re hoping that Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel will start making out. Listen. It’d be great if they started making out. I hope they’ll start making out. The entire WB Family hopes they’ll start making out, except maybe the writers of Seventh Heaven. Everyone hopes they’ll start making out, but the fact is, they’re not going to start making out. They play a mother and daughter, and it’s gross for mothers and daughters to start making out, no matter how many Eros Comix you’ve read, and so even though they’re not mother and daughter in real life and it would be totally, totally awesome to see them tonguing each other like Axl Rose and Stephanie Seymour in the video for “November Rain,” they are not going to do it. Ever. So forget it.

Attention viewers of The Lord of the Rings: I know what you’re thinking. You’re sitting there week after week, waiting for the final installment of this magnificent, epic fantasy masterpiece to debut in theatres, wondering “why am I doing this?”, and if you said “because they’re awesome” you’d pretty much be right, but in your heart of hearts, you know exactly why. You’re hoping that Orlando Bloom and Elijah Wood (and maybe Viggo Mortensen) will start making out. Listen. It’d be great if they started making out. I hope they’ll start making out. Multiple Academy Award nominee Sir Ian McKellen hopes they’ll start making out (and I think maybe Merry and Pippin do too). Everyone hopes they’ll start making out, but the fact is, they’re not going to start making out. I’ve read the books, and in no way do Legolas and Frodo (and maybe Aragorn) ever physically manifest attraction for one another, and so even though Peter Jackson has changed all sorts of other shit around and it would be totally, totally awesome to see them tear into one another like an all-male, non-interracial version of Halle Berry and Billy Bob Thornton in Monster’s Ball without the death penalty subtext and with a hobbit and an elf (and maybe a ranger) instead of poor horny lonely people from the South, they are not going to do it. Ever. So forget it.

I’m serious, people. Let it go.

Comix and match

November 20, 2003

Die, pamphlets, die! Franklin Harris lists all the reasons why the conventional comic book needs to go away. Unfortunately, Stuart Moore has already listed all the reasons why they can’t, not if the industry wants to stay afloat right now. This tension is what Mick Martin unconsciously picked up in his follow-up post to Franklin’s.

Bob Morales, the writer behind the controversial “black Captain America” miniseries Truth, gives a lengthy interview over at Newsarama today. I liked Truth quite a bit. It took a couple of issues to get going, and along the way there was a misstep or two (the execution of hundreds of black soldiers, for example; Morales concedes this was based on urban myth more than anything else, and I think it gives people predisposed against a series examining the shady doings of the U.S. military an easy excuse not to take the book seriously), but once it kicked into gear it became one of the most startling and disturbing horror comics (well, that’s what it was) in recent memory. Morales even redeemed some of the unrelenting harshness with a kindly, humanistic coda. Well worth checking out when the trade collection is at long last released.

Also at Newsarama, Brian Bendis talks about his upcoming Secret Wars project. If you guessed it’d involve black ops, well, you’d be right–you’d be right 99 times out of 100 at Marvel these days. But seriously, folks, I’m looking forward to this, despite its being a remake of one of the most egregious emblems of 1980s funnybook dopiness, because Bendis has an uncanny knack for taking the absolute most fanboy-button-pushing geekiest ideas imaginable and executing them in a remarkably non-fanboy fashion.

Speaking of Bendis, Jason Kimble eloquently defends the man’s work against his detractors (John Jakala being a prominent one). John was certainly mistaken in calling Bendis’s dialogue ripped-off Tarantinoisms–it’s actually ripped-off Aaron Sorkinisms. But Bendis is actually better than Sorkin, because the dialogue is crafted (as Jason suggests) not to sound clever, but to sound human.

Steven Grant argues that comics should be the new drugs. Actually, he argues that comics should be vehicles of unfettered and boldly original imagination, which is absolutely correct (and, as usual, it’s kind of a bummer that this even needs to be said), and then slaps an “edgy” catch-phrase on top, which I could do without. But his points remain rock-solid. (And keep in mind, altcomix fans, that this does not mean everything has to be gonzo fantasy–Diary of a Teenage Girl is one of the most imaginative comics I’ve ever read. There’s more than one way to skin a Cheshire Cat.)

I always dig when NeilAlien starts talking about Dr. Strange, even when I have no idea what he’s talking about.

Bill Sherman advocates the slow-and-steady approach to Love & Rockets, saying that things take off in Volume Two. Forager goes contrarian, saying the hardcover Palomar collection is too big and unwieldy to really sink your teeth into. But contrary to his opinion, I actually did curl up in bed with it last night (yep, went out and bought it yesterday). Haven’t read very far yet, but it’s tough not to be impressed as hell with that first “Chelo’s Burden” story, isn’t it? When was the last time you saw a comics story told that way, anyway?

In that same post, Forager responds to my defense of Top Shelf as a company not primarily concerned with style over substance. I’ll grant him that Top Shelf is definitely tied into the mini-comics aesthetic, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. And I also think he’s right that the success of Blankets is in part attributable to its larger-than-life format, but not simply for the novelty factor J.W. describes–it also happens to be the best way to have told that particular story. I’ve said in the past that little previews of the book left me cold, but reading the whole massive thing made everything “make sense” to me. It’s to Craig’s credit that he insisted on releasing the thing the way he did, rather than serializing it into much less effective individual installments.

Big Sunny D responds to my assertion that Jimmy Corrigan isn’t really horror despite his claims to the contrary by… agreeing? Man, this is why I love the comics blogosphere–you don’t see this happen on message boards, well, ever!

Chris Allen joins the Ross/Riefenstahl fray, mainly in service of his belief that Ross is great. In so doing he fires a couple shots my way for mocking how Ross draws all his superheroes as pudgy dimps, which point of view I proudly stand by. (No offense to gym teachers or guards at women’s correctional facilities.) Chris, I wasn’t going for “cheap yuks” at all–I really do think the way the characters look is a problem. We’re clearly meant to be impressed by Ross’s heroes, and instead we think “wow, these look like slightly overweight people in goofy superhero costumes.” (In other words, they look like his models, who tend actually to be slightly overweight people in goofy superhero costumes themselves.) That’s the biggest obstacle to Ross’s artistic project, not the allegations (unfounded, I think) of fascist undertones.

Shawn Fumo has a long post on manga, in response to a Johnny Bacardi post that essentially wonders what all the fuss is about. Shawn’s argument is that while the American comics mainstream attempts to graft the conventions of one genre (supeheros) on to a variety of genres with which they are occasionally incompatible (or at the very least in which the juxtaposition is not rewarding, particularly for young readers), manga repeatedly utilizes a certain set of narrative tropes (ie. methods of plotting storytelling, not capes and spandex and so forth), which work equally well in a variety of genres. I think this sounds more limited than Shawn intends it to; check out his post and see what you think.

John Jakala replies to Dave Intermittent in a similar pas de deux about the merits of manga. John argues that the reason kids like manga is that it’s actually entertaining and geared towards them, two things the bulk of mainstream American comics can’t seem to manage; as a grown-up, “your mileage may vary.” (There is plenty of enjoyable, adult-centric manga out there, though.) Anyway, Dirk Deppey’s similar assertion was John’s inspiration here.

Rick Geerling offers an extremely long and impassioned rant about what the hell is wrong with superhero comics anyway. He charges that the industry-dictated need to keep the franchise characters’ storylines open-ended for decade after decade strips them of all potential for true change, innovation, and lasting resonance. He’s got an uphill battle to fight if he thinks DC’s going to let Bruce Wayne die so that we can enjoy our copies of Arkham Asylum more, but the point’s a fascinating one. This is actually an argument that comes up when discussing the philosophical ramifications of immortality–the idea that you need death to be able to weigh and make sense out of life, because death puts a cap on things, giving you a sense of scale, relativity, purposefulness, etc. Is the same true for comics? Alan Moore, in his introduction to early collected editions of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, argued that it was, that legends lose their impact without a denouement. I’ve certainly seen it argued that the big superhero characters have all been stretched well past the point of diminishing returns–despite what the marketing departments would have you believe, these aren’t mythological icons that arose out of the collective unconscious, and therefore cannot sustain the repeated use that the gods of old could. I still enjoy a good Spider-Man or Batman or even Superman story, when they come along, but would I enjoy them more if they gained the sense of finitude and permanence granted by closure? Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps…

Massachusetts, here we come

November 20, 2003

I don’t really have all that much to say about the Massachusetts court’s decision regarding gay marriage, because I’m just too damn happy about it. Gay people are normal people who feel love just like anyone else, and deserve the basic human right to enshrine that love through marriage just like anyone else. End of story.

I respect the arguments made by same-sex marriage opponents like Eve Tushnet–who, insofar as she is gay herself, may be reasonably excluded from the ranks of gay-bashing troglodyte SSM opponents like John Derbyshire–but, frankly, I don’t buy a single one of them. Maybe it’s because I actually happen to be married, but the idea that as such I’m just some cog in a societal machine designed to produce and properly rear babies is dehumanizing and ridiculous to me. Doubly so, because, unless you accept specious and antequated theories about gender roles that successful same-sex or one-parent families are currently giving lie to day in and day out, it actually winds up being an argument for gay marriage, not against it. (Moreover, scratch someone who’s constructed elaborate legal and philosophical arguments against gay marriage, and more often than not you’ll find someone who thinks that God doesn’t like homosexuality underneath. That’s not the God I know, to put it mildly; and even if it was, that’s not how we do things in the United States of America, thank, well, God.)

Human rights were extended to a large group of humans the other day. Bravo.

Thursday update

November 20, 2003

Well, I was right–I’ve posted a lot today so far, and there’s no end in sight. Right now your options are:

(1) Jim Treacher avenged

(2) Terror attack stuff

(3) Bush’s speech stuff

(4) Saddam/al Qaeda stuff

(5) Anti-war protestor stuff

(6) Smutty silliness

Pick yr poison!