Archive for August 19, 2004

Good Night, Sleep Tight

August 19, 2004

Well, I


August 15, 2004

Links in recent posts have been fixed; thanks to Eve Tushnet for pointing out their various malfunctions. This is what I get for writing posts in MS Word so that they won’t get wiped out if Mozilla crashes for some reason.

Well, how about that: now UPDATED with a fixed link and a new link

August 14, 2004

How’s this for a debut issue of the Comics Journal’s new format? An enormous essay by Dirk Deppey outlining the tremendous contributions NuMarvel made to mainstream comics during its halcyon days, another enormous essay tearing every aspect of the “X-Men Reloaded” initiative (save Astonishing X-Men) a new one, 36 pages of Alex Toth comics, a review of Fantagraphics’ big Will Elder book by Bill Sherman, reviews of revisionist-superhero books Demo, Smax, and Planet of the Capes by Tom Spurgeon, and a brave leap into the legal minefields with a reprinting of Harvey Kurtzman and Will Elder’s infamous “Goodman Goes Playboy”? That’s worth your ten bucks, don’t’cha think?


August 13, 2004

The post of the week is undoubtedly Eve Tushnet

Comix and match

August 13, 2004

Our top story today: At long last, Eve Tushnet reviews New X-Men. My response can be found right here.

Lots of interesting things at Tim O’Neil’s blog. First, his wife Anne explains her thoughts on Phoebe Gloeckner’s photo-based cover for the Comics Journal (read all about it, or at least a debate about it, here. I think a lot of this debate revolves around three misunderstandings: One, Anne’s misunderstanding of how Phoebe has been working lately, i.e. doing autobio with photographs rather than cartooning. If we were to use Occam’s Razor would explain the presence of a photo on a Journal cover she herself designed a lot more readily than the assertion that she’s suddenly gone all wobbly and is no longer the astute examiner of gender and sexuality that we’ve long known her to be. Anne herself says she’s only read probably ten pages worth of Phoebe’s work, so that probably helps explain why she’d conclude that, in Tim’s words, “Gloeckner is OK with defining her public persona and critical importance in direct proportion to her physical appearance in a notoriously male-dominated field.” (It doesn’t really explain why Tim, who has read a great deal of her work I think, would think that, but hey.) As Anne alternately puts it, “dude, if a guy did a picture on the cover and I called him vain, would you feel the need to defend him to everyone on the web?” Well, of course I would, if I felt that this analysis arose from a misapprehension about the guy’s work which if corrected would explain the picture on the cover pretty handily.

Second, Tim’s misunderstanding of what I was getting at with my first post on the subject–which of coures was not a post on the subject at all, but a link round-up that mentioned the subject in passing. All I meant by my two-sentence response to his wife’s concerns about the cover is that, since Phoebe is an autobio cartoonist, we can expect to see her physical self on the cover of any publication in which her work is the lead story due to the nature of her work, not due to the publication’s or her own exploitation of her gender or attractiveness. The confusion arose here because I didn’t add the bit about how she’s now using photography, so it sounded like my point was to patronizingly say “you do know she does autobiography, don’t you, dear?”, whereas what I was actually saying was “there’s a perfectly harmless explanation for all of this, honest–don’t lose faith in Phoebe!”

The third misunderstanding was Tim and Anne’s shared belief that my posts were “an insult to [Anne].” Heck no! The more debate around here, the merrier; I really do think the whole thing sprung from my incomplete description of Phoebe’s recent working methods in that little two-sentence link, anyway, so it’s much ado about nothing. Nor did anything “touch a nerve” with me, nor does my being “a guy” have anything to do with it, nor do I think a familiarity with or ignorance of feminist thought enters into it at all either (my wife and I are feminists ourselves, and we have the subscriptions to Bitch and Bust, the dogeared copies of The Beauty Myth, Reviving Ophelia, and Against Our Will, and the years of dealing with body dysmorphia and eating disorders to prove it, but in the end I think Phoebe’s credentials speak for themselves in terms of how we should interpret intentionally problematic or open-ended aspects of her work). Long story short, the reason I got all feisty was Tim’s Br’er Rabbit impression: “Please, Br’er Sean, whatever you do, don’t start a flame war with me!” There are better ways to avoid making things unnecessarily hostile and personal than calling a fellow out by name, invoking the flame war concept, and telling him what a patronizing ass he’s being, all without linking to the original piece so that readers can view what’s going on for themselves. (Particulary when there

Comix and match: special “just a few things” edition

August 12, 2004

Thanks to everyone who wrote in answering my Bruce-Jones-Hulk-run question. Turns out Marvel will be publishing issues that wrap up the whole massive conspiracy storyline. Hooray for good publishing decisions!

Alan David Doane–or The Doaner, as I think I shall call him from now on–has been writing his hinder off about Paul Hornschemeier, the intriguing Scott Pilgrim,, good supercomics he dug as a kid, all kindsa stuff. He also praises Marvel for its excellent trilogy of Grant Morrison New X-Men hardcovers. Hooray once again for good publishing decisions!

Finally, I was really impressed by a couple of posts at Brian Hibbs’s blog: Brian’s even-handed assessment of Identity Crisis being one, and co-blogger Jeff Lester’s review roundup (including thoughts on Astonishing X-Men, Avengers, Planetary, Powers, Ultimate Fantastic Four, Ultimate Nightmare, and especially Craig Thompson’s powerful Carnet de Voyage) being the other. Hooray for good blogging!

This just in

August 11, 2004


Ha ha, no. Tim, you’re right: I can’t

[n]ame another autobiographical or semi-autobiographical cartoonist [other than Phoebe Gloeckner] who had a photo cover on the Journal.

However, I also cannot name another autobiographical or semi-autobiographical cartoonist who is now working primarily with photographs.

Now, this is just a guess, but my hunch is that these two phenomena are connected.

Her piece in Comics Journal’s Winter 2004 Special, her piece for my interview with her (originally intended for the A&F Quarterly and ultimately published here), her piece in L.A. Weekly, and yes, the comic of which the Journal’s cover is the first panel–all photoromances. That’s what I was getting at with my “pat and condescending” post of the other day–any Phoebe Gloeckner cover is going to feature an image of Phoebe Gloeckner (or at least her quasi-autobiographical manque, Minnie Goetze) as a function of her work, not her gender. This cover features a photo, as per her wishes, because her work lately is in photographs. As a wise man once wrote, ’nuff said. I mean, should she abandon photographs when putting the cover together, because it might remind someone of Mademoiselle? Who’s bringing baggage to the table now?

But hey, if you wanna work yourself into a high dudgeon about how “tone-deaf and easily misinterpreted” the image is, ignoring Gloeckner’s decades of examining the issues of feminism, femininity, sexism, sexuality, autobiography, self-image, and self-representation with an acuity unrivalled by pretty much anyone ever, and proceed to inisit you don’t mean to cause trouble but you still feel behooved to call a fellow out by name for trying to point out that there may be a simpler, slightly less preposterous explanation for the photo cover than “Phoebe’s gone Cosmo” and then go into a whole thing about how this fellow is a lockstep defender of the artist who can never truly know the world of the woman–well, in the words of Marc Bolan, “rock on, rock on, yeah.”


August 10, 2004

Whatever happened to Fay Wray?

That delicate, satin-draped frame

As it clung to her thigh

How I started to cry

‘Cuz I wanted to be dressed just the same

–Tim Curry, “Don’t Dream It”

Comix and match: special “everybody’s talking” edition!

August 9, 2004

Alan David Doane talks about, and with, cartoonist Paul Hornschemeier, who one hopes will be as alarmingly prolific as his plans would dictate.

Tim O’Neil (and his wife) talk about Phoebe Gloeckner and her photo on the cover of the Comics Journal. (Tim, tell your wife that Phoebe’s an autobiographical cartoonist, so any cover would have a picture of her, photo or no. It has little to do with her gender and lots to do with her work.)

Brian Michael Bendis talks about his panel schedule at WizardWorld Chicago, hinting that big things are in the offing. Aren’t they usually? Man, I am like a hooked fish with this guy.

David Welsh talks about the preview pages for Bendis & David Finch’s Avengers #501, with several quotes-of-the-day all rolled into one post. It seems safe to say David has not been hooked in as has yours truly.

Ed Brubaker talks about the strangely anemic sales of Sleeper Season Two #1. This book really is as good as you’ve heard, by the way.

Marc-Oliver Frisch also talks Sleeper (and Seaguy, and Ex Machina) sales. Interesting analysis.

Mark Millar talks about his Spider-Man run in very ambitious turns. My brief flip-through of issue number four has me intrigued, so we’ll see how the first trade holds up.

NeilAlien briefly talks numbers, pointing out that Robert Kirkman’s zombie book The Walking Dead is selling double the copies of Robert Kirkman’s superhero book Invincible. Does this say something? I think it might say something.

Marc Mason talks about Tom Spurgeon talking about AiT/Planet Lar, and says Tom’s likely the best writer about comics today. Marc’s right.

Jog the Blog talks about Warren Ellis talking about Dan Clowes, and about Jason’s new book, You Can’t Get There From Here. (From the ridiculous to the sublime, then?)

Heidi MacDonald talks about Graeme McMillan (not a permalink, inexcusably) having Luke Cage and Iron Fist talk about Alan David Doane and Chris Allen talking about Geoff Johns (who is also talked about by a solo Alan David Doane). Got all that?

The Man, now in paperback

August 9, 2004

Fans of great comics writing will be pleased to hear that Jordan Raphael & Tom Spurgeon’s Stan Lee and the Rise and Fall of the American Comic Book is now available in paperback. The good people at Amazon will sell it to you if you click here, y’know. Tell ’em Smilin’ Sean sent ya!

I’ve seen the type before, believe me

August 8, 2004

Is it not clear to everyone that the entire careers of both Jessica and Ashlee Simpson are simply a way for them to be lived through vicariously by their obviously gay dad?


August 7, 2004

I read this Tom the Dog item about Bruce Jones’s run on The Incredible Hulk today, and it got me thinking. Now, I happen to be a fan of Jones’s Hulk work, or at least the first four collections’ worth of it or so, but that’s not the point.

I just want to know: Has Marvel said whether or not Jones’s big conspiracy storyline will reach a resolution before his run is over, given his abrupt departure from the company?

Does anyone know about this? I really, really don’t want to think I stuck with the series as long as I did only to never get an answer to the big question. (And yes, I realize the answer is going to be “The Leader was behind it all!”, but I want to read this, not just guess.) Please, if you’ve got the scoop, drop me a line.

Quote of the day

August 7, 2004

Quote of two days ago, this time. We’re getting closer and closer to actually having a quote of the day on the day the quote was actually written. Ahem:

Have you noticed how online comics fans have decided it’s okay to like Dan Clowes now he’s done a superhero comic?

Warren Ellis, ignoring everything online comics fans have ever written about “Ice Haven” (near-unanimously regarded as the best single-issue comic book in human history, as far as my experience with the comics internet goes), David Boring, Ghost World, Caricature, 20th Century Eightball, and on and on and on and on and on…

(I’m also not sure Warren Ellis, of all people, should really be playing the “themes explored better by Chuck Palahniuk” game. But I did enjoy issue number one of Ultimate Nightmare!)

(Link courtesy of Jog the Blog, who also reviews Jason’s new book, You Can’t Get There from Here.)

Lieber’s Eleven

August 6, 2004

Steve Lieber recently started a meme that encourages bloggers to list eleven comic-book titles that no library should be without. Here’s mine.

1. Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware

2. Palomar by Gilbert Hernandez

3. The Diary of a Teenage Girl by Phoebe Gloeckner

…and that’s it.

Nah, okay, wait a minute, here’s the second tier:

4. The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller

5. Watchmen by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons

6. Eightball #22: “Ice Haven” by Daniel Clowes

7. Poison River by Gilbert Hernandez

Okay, now, my criteria:

It’s really simple. I’m only listing books that totally knocked me on my ass, and continue to do so, both in retrospective remembrances and in re-readings. The top three is the top three because they so thoroughly destroyed me with their brilliance that I’m barely coherent about them. If I’m going to presume to tell every library what they shouldn’t be without, they’re what I’m looking for–absolute world-shattering brilliance.

The second tier’s members are second-tier for a variety of reasons. Words can’t describe how much I love Dark Knight, which I still think is as great as I thought it was when I first read it in sixth grade; Watchmen is in a similar league. I’m just not totally convinced that you don’t need some grounding in superherodom to appreciate them as much as I do. “Ice Haven,” astounding as it is, is just a pamphlet, and I have a feeling we’re really looking for graphic novels here. (We’ll see how the proposed expansion of the piece into graphic-novel length goes.) Poison River should have been collected into Palomar bu

Quote of the day

August 6, 2004

Okay, again, not this day, but a day:

I certainly enjoyed [Alan Moore’s] Watchmen more than I have most of [Moore’s] ABC line, but let’s remember: a guy smearing his shit all over Bristol boards in the eighties would sell far more copies than a comic written by Shakespeare, drawn by God, and released in 1999.

Marc Singer, during a discussion of the recent “kids and comics” kerfuffle that takes both the Chabon and Bendis/Millar sides (rightfully) to task.

Quote of the day

August 5, 2004

Well, quote of Thursday, July 29th, anyway:

I’ve heard a few people call this and other new X-spinoffs “unnecessary”, which always makes me kind of wonder what Marvel/DC comics are “necessary” to begin with.

Steve Pheley

I’m not even sure I agree, but well said! Steve also offers a capsule review of Avengers 500 (aka the issue that begins the whole “destroy all Avengers” thing) that’s a useful corrective to the “Bendis is an overrated hack and this is a gargantuan sack of shit and you shouldn’t be killing characters and it’s lazy shock tactics and blah blah blah” stuff goin’ ’round.


August 4, 2004

Back before my trip to San Diego I was pretty comprehensively blogging critical reaction to Dan Clowes’ Eightball #23. A handful of late entrants have since filtered in, namely Adam Stephanides’ musings on emptiness and joylessness in both protagonist and creator, Marc Singer’s reading of the book as an anti-current-administration political tract (coupled with his usual harsh take on Clowes in general), and Jog the Blog’s explanation of how the political content could be much less political than it seems. Read them all.


August 2, 2004

Carnet de Voyage

Craig Thompson

224 pages, B/W, $14.95

ISBN: 1891830600

Top Shelf Productions

When a glorified sketchbook is a more compelling graphic novel than three-fourths of the official output that comes down the old funnybook transom, you know you

The big time

August 1, 2004

So I’ve seen clips about the San Diego Comic-Con on nearly every show that’s run this weekend on the E!-VH1-MTV celebrotainment continuum: Best Week Ever, E! News Weekend, The Soup, ET on MTV, and on and on and on. Now, of course they have the hosts put on coke-bottle glasses and talk about how they’ve never known the touch of a woman after each segment ends, but generally the tone isn’t “I’m embarrassed to be here” so much as it’s “hey, this is kinda neat–and oh, look, isn’t that Jessica Biel?”