* Here’s a guide to all of Robot 6′s big 2nd anniversary special content, including some cool stuff involving yours truly;
* And here’s Comic Book Resources’ Top 100 Comics of 2010, all in one place. This also includes a list of the list’s participants, which I think is helpful.
* Today on Robot 6:
* and DC Comics makes a slew of announcements: all ongoing series are $2.99, letters pages are returning, Peter Milligan on Red Lanterns, and Sean Murphy on an American Vampire spin-off. That’s a pair of shots fired in the PR war, hopefully a step in the right direction for the Direct Market on pricing, a sign that Green Lantern is joining Batman as the two core franchises of the DCU, and a sign that American Vampire is joining Fables as the two core franchises of Vertigo.
* The Comics Journal has launched The Panelists, a new group blog featuring Derik Badman, Alex Boney, Isaac Cates, Craig Fischer, Jared Gardner, and Charles Hatfield. That’s a formidable crew.
* Dark Horse’s Facebook page hosts a very useful and thorough guide to the state of Mike Mignola and John Arcudi’s Hellboy and B.P.R.D. comics.
* Which reminds me that the use of Facebook for PR was, along with now largely confirmed claims that the iPad is a digital-comics gamechanger, one of the big hobbyhorses of the late great Journalista blogger Dirk Deppey. “Seriously, what idiot ‘advertises’ their event solely on a website that requires registration to see the advertisement?” The kind of idiot who wants to advertise on the country’s most popular website, I guess.
* Chris Allen and Alan David Doane think that good superhero comics are the very least we should expect and demand. I see their point, although a good superhero comic is a good comic, after all.
* From good to bad: Graeme McMillan and the Comics Alliance crew explain what made some of 2010′s worst superhero comics so awful — very little schtick, lots of dragging very bad writing and art choices into the light of day and investigating what went wrong. Well done.
* If you’ve ever wondered what a smart critic with zero experience with any comics or video games would think of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, check out Edward Copeland’s review. He situates the movie in the (500) Days of Summer/Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist sphere, as you might expect, and preferred the rom-com stuff to the fighting and video-game stuff, as you also might expect.
* I’d need to reread the Fourth World saga to be sure — it’s been a few years — but I’m pretty sure that, contra Tim O’Neil, Jack Kirby’s Anti-Life wasn’t fascism, or more accurately it wasn’t just fascism — it was war. I cribbed that from Tom Spurgeon and I think it squares — after all, anti-fascist superhero comics from the World War II generation were a dime a dozen, but the Fourth World Saga stood out for a reason. Regarding Tim’s contention that Morrison’s Anti-Life is less powerful a concept than Kirby’s because it’s imposed rather than embraced, I think that’s probably true, but there certainly are people who want to impose Anti-Life’s real-life equivalent and it’s a valid avenue of exploration.
* Tom Spurgeon’s interview with the comics critic and journalist David Brothers helped me get at something I’ve often found frustrating about Brothers’s work. He’s a fine writer who brings welcome eye-on-the-ball focus and deserved indignation to his commentary on industry ethics, diversity issues, and business practices, but I’ve been frustrated by his tendency to focus so much on superheroes and other fantastic-action genre work and his occasional lapses into his particular character-specific version of “Wolverine would never say that!” But regarding the former, Brothers reveals that he only this year started reading Chris Ware and Los Bros Hernandez — and what a year to start! — and regarding the latter, he owns up to “basic fan entitlement.” In other words he’s young and (like all of us, hopefully) growing as a writer. Read the interview for his smart rejection of “hey, true art takes time!” defenses of late books and for a great bit on superhero comics’ civilian fashions (although I strongly disagree with his contention that “part of being an adult is wearing a shirt that has buttons on it every once in a while”):
The lack of attention paid to fashion in comics is baffling to me. We all pay a certain amount of attention, time, and money on what we wear, but you wouldn’t know it when you look at mainstream comics. Guys still wear Solid Colored T-Shirt and Latex Tight Jeans, with maybe a loose, formless leather jacket on top. Women wear Solid Colored Belly Shirt/Baby-T, Low Rise Jeans, and Visible Thong Straps. Belts, jackets, suspenders, and even something as simple as logos tends to be almost nonexistent, barring the relatively few artists who take the time to do it right.
The visible thong thing really is the post-millennial equivalent of ’70s and ’80s shirtless vest-wearing street toughs and ’90s mullet-based hairstyles.
* Can you imagine a world in which Lord of the Flies, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, Waiting for Godot, Rear Window, and The Creature from the Black Lagoon were in public domain as of this year? Yeah, neither can I.
Fuck Thank you very much, Congress!
* Real Life Horror 1: I’m always up for reading about the giant octopus of that washed up on the shores of St. Augustine in 1896.
* Real Life Horror 2: Here’s a wonderfully written history of the bubonic plague by writer Mark Sumner on, of all places, Daily Kos.
* Real Life Horror 3: It’s always worth pointing out that my Representative, Peter King, supported IRA terrorism, especially given that he’s planning McCarthyite investigations of American Muslims who didn’t.
* Real Life Horror 4: The political blogger Digby has been doing yeoman’s work reporting on American law enforcement’s willy-nilly use of painful, frequently lethal tasers on non-violent non-criminals.
* Real Life Great Job: I can’t believe that one of the candidates for Republican National Committee Chairman is named Reince Priebus. Are we sure he’s not a Tim and Eric character? What do Prance Stuard, Bilb Ono, Doug Prishpreed, and Dun Dorr have to say about this?
* Speaking of DeForge, who apparently never stops drawing, he has a funny new strip up at Vice.
* I’m glad to hear that I played some small part in getting Curt Purcell psyched about blogging about horror again.
* Speaking of: I can’t help but be a bit disappointed with the (leaked and/or official depending on what post you’re reading) video for Kanye West’s monster, especially given such recent direct points of comparison as the clips for Scissor Sisters’ “Invisible Light” or West’s own “Runaway.” To the table occupied by the former’s dizzyingly trashy recreation of giallo and other groovy-age staples and the latter’s go-for-baroque parade of sexual, racial, and self-mythological neurosis, “Monster” brings a cornucopia of played-out “sexy dead model” visuals I saw in a fashion magazine, like, ten years ago. Moreover I think the whole sentiment behind “Monster” loses something when removed from the self-loathing draped all over My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy; conflicted tracks like “Runaway” contain both sides of Kanye’s macho-asshole schtick in the way that the tough-guy songs just don’t. Finally, once you’ve read Nitsuh Abebe’s suggestion that Nicki Minaj should have been represented by a shapeshifter rather than a pair of good/evil twins, you really can’t unsee it. It’s like (as I’m fond of mentioning) when I learned that the Frankie Pentangelli role in The Godfather Part II was supposed to be filled by Pete Clemenza until it fell through over a wage dispute with Richard S. Castellano.
* Happy birthday to my favorite author, J.R.R. Tolkien. I love you, Professor!
* Finally, HOLY SHIT