Archive for February 29, 2004

Oscarblogging 5

February 29, 2004

A memo to the people who make the “we may be a beer company but we’re responsible” commercials for Anheuser-Busch:

I’m glad you’re trying to encourage parents to keep tabs on what their kids are doing. But so help me God, if this commercial inspires a single kid to leave the ringer on on his cellphone while he’s in the movie theatre, and then to actually start talking on the goddamn thing once it rings, I will literally find you and kill you.

Oscarblogging 4

February 29, 2004

Mitch and Micki in character? Huge.

Oscarblogging 3

February 29, 2004

“Wait–are we supposed to clap for Leni Riefenstahl?”

More Oscarblogging

February 29, 2004

I’m glad to see Errol Morris finally win an Oscar, but not, apparently, as glad as Morris himself, who made sure to let everyone know how much he felt he deserved it. And oh so humorously thanking Robert McNamara for a war that, as he said just a couple sentences later, killed millions of people, so you could make a movie about it–charming, just charming!

Some folks are down a rabbit hole, that’s for sure.


February 29, 2004

It’s about 10:25pm EST right now, and so far it’s been a good night for The Lord of the Rings, which, given the way its installments have absorbed my movie-going budget for the past three years, is really the only dog I have in this race. I think The Return of the King is four for four right now, and I’m just ecstatic. I think only life-long Tolkien fans can know what I’m talking about: “My God–Alan Lee is onstage at the Oscars!” “A big famous actress just said the words ‘Middle-earth’ in front of a worldwide audience of one billion people!” It’s amazing.

Am I 100% happy? I guess not. I don’t understand why the movie was nominated for Best Sound and not Best Sound Editing, and why it was nominated for every visual award and Best Director and Best Picture but not Best Cinematography, and obviously the cast (especially Sean Astin) was completely robbed. But so far we’ve got a sweep going, and that’s really nice. If by the end of the evening I can truthfully refer to the Academy Award-winning director of Meet the Feebles, I’ll be very happy indeed.

Why? an Oscarblogging prelude

February 29, 2004

Robin Williams’s date to the Oscars is apparently Bobcat Goldthwait.

‘Cause you can never really tell when somebody wants something you want, too

February 29, 2004

Johnny Bacardi has posted his much-anticipated David Bowie retrospective. And… well, yeah, there it is. Turns out Johnny and I don’t have much in common in terms of our ideas about Bowie. (For example, I think Bowie’s 90s output is thrilling, that the instrumentals from Low and “Heroes” are gorgeous, that there’s a lot more going on on albums like Station to Station and Diamond Dogs than just “a couple” of good songs, that there are a few factual errors in the retrospective that a Bowiephile like me can’t help but quibble over, and so on.) But don’t lean on me, man–check it out yourself and see what you think. And while you’re at it, vada Bill Sherman‘s take on the former David Jones, centering mainly on an appreciation of the astounding album Aladdin Sane. Oh no, Bill, you’re not alone.

Oscarblogging 6

February 29, 2004

“Ladies and gentlemen, the Oscar-winning writer-director of Brain Dead.”

Condemned to repeat it

February 27, 2004

You know, if you had told me that less than three years after the most horrific attack on American soil in history, I’d be looking at an MSNBC graphic reading “Culture Wars” with a picture of Janet Jackson and intertwined male-male and female-female symbols… I don’t think I’d have been surprised at all, actually, because the fact is that this country, and all countries, really, will never want for busybody idiots.

It’s gratifying to see that, according to OxBlog, Bush’s proposed religious-right Constitutional graffiti doesn’t stand a chance of passing the Senate. (Link courtesy of Andrew Sullivan.) My hope is also that the hypocrisy inherent in this administration’s endorsement of an apparently pornographically violent film, coming as it does at a time when they’re using the power of the government to intimidate companies into cracking down on exposed tits and the use of dirty words, will be apparent to everyone.

Regarding the Howard Stern situation itself, I don’t think it’s as clear cut as people are acting. I think Stern is an unfunny moron who basically got in trouble with one of his bosses, so Jeff Jarvis‘s high dudgeon over the issue strikes me as hubris in the extreme. However, people in the “it’s no big deal” camp, like the inexcusably oblivious Glenn Reynolds, are glossing over the fact that this corporate crackdown, while not technically censorship, is only happening because the government is using its muscle to bully the companies into doing the censoring so the feds won’t have to. By the letter of the law I suppose this is okay, but the words “congressional investigation” or “government hearings” are ones I never want to see in near proximity with speech issues. When that happens, you get travesties like the Comics Code, which destroyed publishers and gutted the medium for decades, or the music industry’s Parental Advisory stickers, which are treated like the Scarlet Letter by some of the country’s largest music retailers. It’s grotesque to watch my tax dollars at work forcing entertainment and media moguls to abase themselves at the feet of Congress, and restrict speech in their products out of fear of the wrath of the government.

The only culture war I’m interested in fighting right now is the one between freedom and tyranny, democracy and theocracy, equality and bigotry, liberty and terror. I don’t want to have to guess as to which side my own government is on.

Comix and match

February 27, 2004

Superhero “realism”: the case against. Zed of MemeMachineGo points out the big problem with realistic takes on superheroes: The more a superhero world looks like our own, the easier it is for us to notice when the things that happen in that world don’t make any sense. Zed focuses on the exercise of political or military power by and/or against superheroes in fictional worlds–the Authority taking over the world in the Wildstorm universe, supervillains destroying whole cities in the DC Universe (Coast City was destroyed back during the Death/Return of Superman saga; I think San Diego was just dumped into the sea in Aquaman (where will the intra-DC comics industry have its big conventions, now?)), the U.S. government deploying a covert ops consisting of both ridiculously powerful superbeings and a guy with a bow and arrow in the Ultimate universe, and so forth. Paradoxically, these companies’ efforts to deliver a recognizable world heighten our ability to detect their failure to do so. Events like 9/11 and the Iraq War have given us crystal-clear demonstrations of how the world would react to an unexpected and massive slaughter of civilians, or the use of force to right a wrong despite the disapproval of international institutions. We know things don’t just go back to business as usual. Now imagine that instead of destroying a few buildings, the bad guys wiped out all of New York; or that instead of a country using its superior power to topple a dictator, five or six people in costumes did so. The political crises engendered by these situations would be near-apocalyptic. The reason a book like Watchmen (or even Squadron Supreme) worked was because they weren’t set in an ongoing universe, where the need to keep the stories coming necessitated a glossing-over of consequences for the actions of its superpowered beings. And even in those types of limited series, your mileage may vary. Basically I think this isn’t an argument against “realistic superheroes” as much as it’s an argument against embedding them in a universe-style framework where the realistic consequences of those superheroes’ existence and behavior can’t be fully and honestly explored. (Link courtesy of Jim Henley.)

Is Bruce Wayne the Marlowe to Batman’s Kurtz? Did young Bruce’s trauma create Batman, or, like Spider-Man, did the birth of the extraordinary creature within him predate that trauma? Is Batman’s war on crime really a quest to find the right mirror to view himself in? Yes, it’s Dark Knight Returns blogging as only Dave Fiore can do it.

Speaking of Dave Fiore, good Lord. Ritual messageboard suicide is always breathtaking to behold.

J.W. Hastings says that modern-day PCisms are ruining Kurt Busiek’s alternate-history-fantasy WWI story Arrowsmith, and also defends the comics marketplace. No, really.

Christopher Butcher does more than decry sneaky corporate censorship of manga and other imported comics: He points out that this is one area where informed and vocal customers really can make a difference, and really have made a difference in the past.

Finally, Dave G. at Simply Comics has devised a Comics Blog Update Page that automatically monitors when nearly all of the sites in the comicsphere have last updated. Mine’s not working, though. I’ve got my tech guys working round the clock, rest assured!

Monster mash

February 27, 2004

Teratoid Heights

Teratoid Heights, by Mat Brinkman. 176 pages, 5 x 6, b/w. Published by Highwater Books. $12.95. Buy it here.

I’ve never seen a comic like this before.

Cartoonist Mat Brinkman is the most compelling member of the Fort Thunder art collective, which was formed by a group of RISD students in Providence, Rhode Island. He combines the whimsy and chops of FT’s most commercially successful artist Brian Ralph with the weirdness and choppiness of FT experimentalists like Brian Chippendale and Jim Drain. And in his little book Teratoid Heights, he’s created a minor sequential-art masterpiece.

This nearly silent, black-and-white paperback has no real narrative to speak of. Rather, it’s a collection of short adventure stories, in which a variety of monstrous, faceless creatures explore their respective environments with alternately hilarious and chilling results. Like Jim Woodring’s Frank stories, Teratoid Heights uses scary-funny black humor and unexpected surprises as its stock and trade. But it eschews Woodring’s familiar funny-animal tropes for something new, eerie, and original. The art, which simultaneously possesses the starkness of woodcuts and the manic detail of the 60s undergrounds, quite simply looks like a transmission from Another Place. It suggests a mental soundtrack wherein all that can be heard are the grunts and squeaks of these strange beings, and surrounding that, the low whirr of desolate lunar-landscape winds. It’s a means of transport as much as it’s a graphic novel.

The book is divided into several sections, each chronicling the adventures of a particular creature or colony of creatures. The first section, “Oaf,” starts the book off right: An exciting sequence shows the titular giant storming a well-protected tower, but what he does when he fulfills his quest is far from the damsel-rescuing or king-slaying you might have expected. In other, less humorous stories involving fear, danger, and death, it’s truly surprising how well the simply delineated and childlike Oaf is used to convey the pathos and occasional senselessness of his wild world, and how well Brinkman navigates the spaces of that world. The sense of geography you acquire is as clear-cut and visceral as your mental map of the fortress in the climax of The Two Towers (Tolkien, incidentally, being an obvious inspiration here).

These complex worlds are not all Brinkman has to show us, though. The book also features a collection of Brinkman’s “micro-minis,” 16-panel backgroundless showcases for a variety of simply drawn creatures. In “Cloudbank,” a chubby fellow devises an amusingly simple method for curing his ailing tummy; in “Creem Puff,” a marshmallow-man type figure has a jolly time proving that two heads are better than one; in “Dissector,” an arachnid monstrosity learns too late the price of his own curiosity. What’s fascinating about these stories, if you can call them that, is not just how well they hit their respective funny or grotesque notes, but the way Brinkman teases a plot out of the simple mechanics of drawing. Each creature’s actions flow naturally from their own design. It’s almost as if you’re watching a wind-up toy–each event makes perfect, almost automatic sense, yet ends up being totally unexpected. There’s a joy of drawing–one might almost say doodling–here that’s exhiliarating to behold. In “Cridges,” the book’s final section and the only one with written dialogue, Brinkman has similar fun with wordplay. Rhyming, big comic-book-y word effects (“NO”), and a monster-driven pastiche of slacker-dude rock-concert enthusiasm show Brinkman to be as able and witty a manipulator of language for its own sake as he is of art.

The book’s real tour-de-force, though, comes in the section called “Flapstack,” which concerns the subterranean realm of little creatures that look a lot like pulled teeth. That section’s story “Sunk” is, I think, the single best comics sequence I read all year. Three of the teeth creatures, each bound to the other by a length of rope, fall into a winding labyrinth. As they try to navigate this incredibly complex maze, Brinkman intercuts between them as though multiple cameras are involved. The three creatures are indistinguishable but for the corresponding numeral which appears each time they come back “on screen.” Before long we have a sense of exactly where in the maze each creature is, and it’s the intense concentration required to keep up with Brinkman’s byzantine constructions that attaches us to the creatures as surely as their frustratingly short lengths of rope attach them to each other. As they attempt to overcome the obstacles they encounter, the tension is, almost stunningly, an edge-of-your-seat affair. The powerful end to this thriller–which, again, stars three silent and indistinguishable walking teeth–is testament to the power of the medium when deployed in new and sophisticated ways, and to Brinkman for having the vision to do this.

The whole Fort Thunder crew shows a commendable interest in the physical aspects of alternative cartooning, rather than just the verbal. In a way it’s equivalent to modern-day dance-punks like the Rapture and DFA, who are trying to reintegrate mind and body over on the indie-rock side of things; I’ve also suggested it’s akin to the glam and prog acts of yore, who refused to sacrifice excitement for intelligence. Teratoid Heights is the best thing the group has produced so far. Though startlingly original, it evokes an array of comics that saw viscerality as a route to creativity: Woodring’s Frank, Panter’s Jimbo, Kirby’s New Gods, Ware’s Quimby the Mouse–I myself was also reminded of Mignola’s Hellboy and Miller’s Elektra Lives Again. A deceptively simple book, it packs a wallop you’ll be thinking about long after you finish reading. When the residents of Teratoid Heights finish exploring their own lands, don’t worry–they’ll be wandering around your brain soon enough.

(Special thanks to Chris Allen for pointing out that not enough people know this book is out there. It’s out there!)

Passion plays

February 26, 2004

Or: Here are Sean’s uninformed opinions on a movie he hasn’t even seen yet, which I guess hasn’t stopped anyone else, so here we go

What to make of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ? Well, for starters, I’m not buying that it’s anti-Semitic. I’m just not. In their collective rave for the film, both Roger Ebert & Richard Roeper, not exactly bagmen for the right wing, said it wasn’t anti-Semitic at all; ditto for the God Squad, Father Tom Hartman and Rabbi Marc Gelman. That pretty much settles the argument for me, because it would appear that at this point the only people taking offense are professional offense-takers. Hell, on Keith Olberman’s show the other day, Roeper said it actually could be considered more anti-Italian than anti-Semitic. As you might have noticed, I gun for anti-Semitism with as much gusto as anyone around, but if it’s not obvious to two film critics and two religious pundits, I don’t think it’s there.

I think films about Jesus, paradoxically, bring out the worst in people. During the pre-release furor, when people like Frank Rich were lambasting the film without even having seen it (though, to be fair, he wasn’t invited to do so), I couldn’t help be reminded about the similar uproar over Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ. How many of the quote Christians unquote who boycotted that movie had any clue what they were actually boycotting? I think that film is one of the most deeply felt and devout Christian statements ever committed to celluloid, and when I hear people say otherwise, I’ve got to wonder what film they saw, or what kind of closed-minded zealotry they saw it with. It seems to me profoundly unfair to prejudge Gibson’s film as being too orthodox, in the same way that it was profoundly unfair to prejudge Scorsese’s for being too unorthodox.

I am not a Christian, but I greatly admire the life and teachings of Jesus, and I think it is important to tell his story. His death, quite simply, is an important part of that story, one that I think most comfy-cozy condemnatory Christians ignore. (For whatever reason, the answer to the religious right’s question “What Would Jesus Do?” rarely seems to be “throw all your money away, dedicate your life to helping every hated lowlife in your area, be rejected and hated by your hometown, undermine the religious and governmental authorities, get arrested, convicted in a kangaroo court, and tortured to death.” Go figure.) This also ties into my appreciation for over-the-top violence in film, and the way the spectacle of seriously hard-core bodily trauma cuts through various layers of distanciation to reveal horrifying truths about the world and the human condition. I can’t think of a more appropriate venue for such spectacle than Jesus’ crucifixion, which essentially served the same purpose.

Okay, those were the pros.

On the con side, Gibson himself strikes me as a fundamentalist whack-job, a person to whom our current Catholic Church is irredeemably liberal (!) and our current Pope is a namby-pamby pinko (God help us!). His refusal to repudiate his scumbag Holocaust-denying father’s grotesque anti-Semitism is offensive. (Listen, I love my Dad too and always will, but if he started saying Auschwitz was a hoax while I was trying to make a movie about a man who died out of love for his fellow man, you bet your ass I’d call bullshit on him.) Of course, Gibson also has made a string of troubling statements about homosexuals, and I’m no fan of that either. Actually, I’m surprised that no one’s pointed out how Gibson chose to make Satan an androgyne, which seems in keeping with his feelings about gays. I also think it’s no coincidence that our commander in chief chose the week this film was released to expand the War on Terror to American gays–I’m sure he figures his whole religious base will have a hard-on for infidels the second they leave the theatre.

Which leads me to some deeper problems not just with the movie, but with the Christian story. I’ve long been disturbed by the emphasis Christianity has placed on the crucifixion. It strikes me as borderline death-worship, simultaneously a celestial stamp of approval for human suffering and a divine invitation to seek revenge for this act. Like Christopher Hitchens and Patti Smith, I’m also horrified at the notion that a man I’ve never met (how could I? he lived 2,000 years ago) was the victim of a human sacrifice on my behalf. I did not ask for this to happen, nor would I if it were an option to me. I’d say “Jesus died for somebody’s sins, but not mine,” but the thing is I don’t believe in sin, either. I believe in doing right and doing wrong, and God knows I’ve done a lot of the latter, but that’s up to me to make right. I would have preferred that this wonderful, loving, caring, fun-loving (yeah, that’s right!), passionate, peaceful, moral, beautiful man of Nazareth lived a full, long life then to die in torment and ignominy for what I’m constantly told are my own wrongdoings. Their my wrongdoings. Please, God, let me atone for them.

Basically, I think a much better symbol than the cross would have been the empty tomb, the stone rolled away. Isn’t the point of Christianity not just that Christ died, but that Christ conquered death? Why is the joy of this essentially ignored in favor of the human sacrifice? I know you can’t have one without the other, but doesn’t it make more sense to focus on the end, rather than the means?

Anyway, those are my thoughts about the film. I would like to see it sometime, but I know the violence will probably keep the Missus away–the violence and the fact that her Christianity is a deeply personal affair, and she’s uncomfortable with communal expressions thereof. We’ll see.

Oh, hell. This seems appropriate too:

Well, a redneck nerd in a bowling shirt was a-guzzlin’ Lone Star beer

Talkin’ religion and politics for all the world to hear.

“They oughta send you back to Roossia, boy, or New York City one,

You just want to doodle a Christian girl and you killed God’s only Son.”

I said, “Has it occurred to you, you nerd, that that’s not very nice,

We Jews believe it was Santa Claus that killed Jesus Christ!”

“You know, you don’t look Jewish,” he said, “near as I could figger

I had you lamped for a slightly anemic, well-dressed country nigger.

No, they ain’t makin’ Jews like Jesus anymore,

They don’t turn the other cheek the way they done before.”

He started in to shoutin’ and spittin’ on the floor,

“Lord, they ain’t makin’ Jews like Jesus anymore.”

He says, “I ain’t a racist but Aristitle Onaysis is one Greek we don’t need,

And them niggers, Jews and Sigma Nus, all they ever do is breed.

And wops and micks and slopes and spics and spooks are on my list

And there’s one little hebe from the heart of Texas–is there anyone I missed?”

Well, I hits him with everything I had right square between the eyes.

I says, “I’m gonna gitcha, you son of a bitch ya, for spoutin’ that pack of lies.

If there’s one thing I can’t abide, it’s an ethnocentric racist;

Now you take back that thing you said ’bout Aristitle Onaysis.

No, they ain’t makin’ Jews like Jesus anymore,

We don’t turn the other cheek the way we done before.”

You could hear that honky holler as he hit that hardwood floor,

“Lord, they ain’t makin’ Jews like Jesus anymore.”

“No, they ain’t makin’ Jews like Jesus anymore,

They ain’t making carpenters who know what nails are for.”

Well, the whole damn place was singin’ as I strolled right out the door

“Lord … they ain’t makin’ Jews like Jesus anymore.”

–Kinky Friedman, “They Ain’t Makin’ Jews Like Jesus Anymore”

Rehashin’ The Passion

February 26, 2004

Andrew Sullivan weighs in. I think he may have a point with the depiction of Pilate and his wife versus the depiction of the Sanhedrin. But the passage about violence shows me nothing other than the fact that Sullivan doesn’t know a whole lot about film. God help him if he ever watched Hellraiser or Casino or Videodrome.

Comix and match

February 26, 2004

Shawn Fumo is back from doing frivolous crap like juggling, and is talking about comic books again! He’s got some details and a rave review of the new collections of Miyazaki’s epic fantasy Nausicaa, and I’ll admit I’m intrigued.

David Fiore went to the messboard and lived to tell the tale. Also, more DKR blogging.

Tim O’Neil‘s indipsensible daily links roundup directs us to strong reviews of Craig Thompson’s Blankets (aka “the book you have to voice some big problems with in order to be taken seriously these days, for whatever reason”) and Mat Brinkman’s Teratoid Heights (aka “the best book from 2003 that you’ve never seen”–expect a review from yours truly sometime soon), both from online magazine The High Hat. Check them both out–these are two of the best comics I’ve had the good fortune to read since getting back on the funnybook bandwagon.

Steven Wintle touts the upcoming International Read a Comic Book Naked Day. That explains a lot about his blog in recent weeks.

Babar of Simply Comics reviews this year’s APE convention, which, like SPX, seems to have dwindled compared to previous years. Could MoCCA be drawing attendance away from APE, too, despite their being a full season and a full country apart?

Finally, holy crap. (Link courtesy of Graeme McMillan.)

One more thing

February 26, 2004

Again, it’s stupid to be talking about this so much until I see it. But regarding the depiction of Caiaphas et al, who probably weren’t swell people in real life any more than religious authorities with temporal power tend to be swell people in this day and age: I’m so used to viewing people’s actions as just that–those people’s actions, not the actions of the collective group to which they belong–that maybe I’m glossing over the potentially anti-Semitic resonance that making these guys into ugly villains might have. I’m so convinced of the stupidity of deriving anti-Semitism from the story of Jesus (if he’d been born in Norway, the Vikings would have killed him; if he’d been born in China, the Chinese would have killed him, etc.) that it’s tough for me to see that other people would draw a different conclusion from these images.

It’s like the “controversy” about the dark-skinned orcs in The Lord of the Rings. To me, it’s idiotic–they’re ORCS, people. They’re not real. They represent only themselves. That’s how I interpret the Gospels, in a sense–they’re AUTHORITY FIGURES, people. Their Judaism (which is shared by Jesus and his mother and father and his disciples and everyone who protests his crucifixion) is irrelevant. They represent only themselves. But the difference between the two cases is that for thousands of years, Christian authority figures have based all sorts of horrifying pogroms and inquisitions and holocausts on that particular misinterpretation. If people were going around harrassing and killing dark-skinned people because that’s how they interpreted LotR, I’d be a lot more wary of that book/those movies than I’d otherwise be. I think that’s why people are so wary of this film/this religion. (The fact that Mel Gibson hasn’t exactly gone out of his way to be pro-Semitic doesn’t help either.)

Okay, I’m done for now.

Comix and match: Special “Meta Guru” Edition!

February 25, 2004

The big story of the week around the comics blogosphere has been, well, the comics blogosphere itself. This means I’ve been doing a lot of meta-blogging lately, for which you have my sincere apologies. But if it makes you feel any better, at least it’s been about relatively interesting meta topics, like the nature of blogging as a phenomenon and the effect blogging has on the thought patterns of its participants. In the wise words of Joe Quesada, never say never, but let me put it this way: Unless I get Instalanched, I’m never gonna post about, like, how many hits I got today or whatever.

Heidi MacDonald, the writer also known as The Beat, has a particularly juicy column this week on various and sundry scandals: The Marvel leaks, the Valentino ouster, the Deppey ascension (now it sounds like I’m naming Robert Ludlum novels). It also has an in-depth look at some of the top bloggers in the biz, and I’m flattered to say that yours truly was included in that number. This makes it the second article on the comics blogosphere to come out this week. Check it out, and while you’re there, ignore her denials and demurrals and encourage Heidi to start her own blog. (Don’t you think she’d do a great comics blog, in the Gawker/Kicker/Wonkette mode?)

While we’re on the meta-blogging beat, this piece of mine from yesterday has a bunch of links on the superhero debate and the notion of groupthink. Here’s a look at the bloggers who are weighing in on these topics today: Bill Sherman, saying his interest in manga is just reflective of a desire to read good comics; Bill Sherman again, defending the validity of different approaches to writing and reading comics; Rose Curtin, wondering why anyone would expect total diversity in criticism but still hopes to avoid posting simply to say “I agree” from here on out; Johnny Bacardi, pointing out that he has yet to join the manga herd; Rick Geerling, saying that unless he disagrees both strongly and coherently, he refains from writing deliberately contradictory posts; Steven Wintle, touting the diversity of the “Outer Blogosphere,” those comics bloggers who stay away from industry commentary; Dave Intermittent, suggesting that the ability of enthusiastic laymen to pontificate is a feature of blogs, not a bug, but also pointing out that, through the need for link love, blogs can be ideologically self-perpetuating; and Tim O’Neil, who wonders at the role his anti-superhero rants played in this whole kerfuffle, which he basically thinks is a stupid waste of time. We report, you decide!

In a post on an upcoming animation-style Batman comic, Johnny Bacardi takes a moment to savor the absence of colorist Lee Loughridge from the book’s black-and-white preview art. The frustrating thing about Loughridge is that you know he’s capable of better things than his usual palette of hideous browns and greens would suggest–his work on Kingpin #1 was tremendous, I thought. And yet the muddy, acidic colors he most often relies on are enough to keep me away from books I think I’d otherwise enjoy, like Y: The Last Man. Last night I finally read through the first trade paperback of Brubaker & Phillips’s Sleeper, which was great, and I couldn’t help but wonder if I’d ever have bothered reading it had it been released under Vertigo rather than WildStorm, and therefore had been given the imprint’s trademark Wall of Brown treatment…

Gaiman defeats McFarlane! Dewey defeats Truman! The Giants win the pennant! The British are coming! It’s a cookbook! (link courtesy of ADD courtesy of Mike Sterling.)

The following two threads on the Comics Journal message board make the Journal, its writers, its readers, and alt-comix fans in general look like __________. You have five seconds to fill in the blank with a word or phrase utterable on broadcast television. Ready, set, go! (Links courtesy of David Fiore and Christopher Butcher.)

Finally, David Fiore returns to The Dark Knight Returns. Today he argues that the book suffers for a lack of a Marlowe to offset Batman’s Kurtz. But David, what about that pivotal section in Book Three, when Batman nearly disappears and the story is told through the men on the street

A question

February 25, 2004

Last night’s episode of America’s Next Top Model featured appearances by the RZA and the Ol’ Dirty Bastard.

Could that show get any better?

News Watch Revisited

February 25, 2004

Issue #258 of the Comics Journal is apparently a pivotal one. I say “apparently” (and I’ll say it again) because I still haven’t seen it. But Christopher Butcher has, and his description of it indicates a magazine on the verge of

Four more years! Four more years!

February 25, 2004

Happy blogday to you

Happy blogday to you

Happy blogday, dear NeilAlien, pioneer, progenitor, Mother of All Comicsbloggers

Happy blogday to you

“Yes! We are all individuals! Tell us more!”

February 24, 2004

It’s a not-so-Secret War in the comics blogosphere! Tim O’Neil’s Comics-Journal review of Grant Morrison’s The Filth and his subsequent anti-superhero blog post have inspired an array of erudite and passionate responses. Yesterday, in the process of writing my own response, I pointed to Dave Fiore, Dave Fiore again, and Jim Henley. Today, we’ve been joined by Dave Intermittent, who refutes the argument that only a character’s creators have interesting things to say about that character and that personal taste should not be confused with objective standards; J.W. Hastings, who looks at the role that superhero-scapegoating plays in the comics-culture heirarchy; and Rose Curtin, who points out that demands for allegory often cannot and perhaps should not be met, and emphasizes the strengths of metaphor instead. Tim himself is too busy doing his stellar replacement-Deppey job to respond at length, but is happy to have started a discussion. I’m happy, too: The blogosphere has emerged as a source of intelligent writing on comics that serves to balance the heretofore prevailing view that “intelligent writing on comics” and “open to taking superheroes seriously” are mutually exclusive propositions. (Sure enough, a thread on this topic started by blogger Dave Fiore in a bastion of that viewpoint has already been suicide-hijacked by the usual suspects suspect.)

Ironic, isn’t it, that as the comics blogosphere rises as one to defend the validity of the much-maligned superhero genre, said blogosphere’s most well-respected proponent of said genre accuses said blogosphere of groupthink!

And the thing is, NeilAlien’s not wrong. Taking the time to carefully self-refute the most potentially incendiary and inaccurate aspects of this line of thought–that we’re not diverse enough in our aesthetic and literary preferences (we are), that it’s bad that we all link to the same things (it