* Somehow this link got lost in the shuffle after I initially saw it (not hugely surprising given my recent circumstances I suppose, but I’m still kicking myself): George R.R. Martin offers another oblique progress report on A Dance with Dragons. The gist of it seems to be that of the three chapters he’d yet to finish as of the last update, one is done, a second is almost done, and a third remains. You’ve got to figure everyone’s working overtime to have an announcement ready to roll in time for the series premiere.
* Gary Groth talks to CBR about the Floyd Gottfredson Mickey Mouse collections. Jinkies, that Gottfredson art is a knockout.
* Speaking of knockouts, the late Jane Russell, ladies and gentlemen.
* And speaking of pale, bosomy brunettes — and let’s face it, when am I not — I fully support Anne Hathaway as Catwoman.
* I guess one way to find out (or at least try to find out) about Marvel’s plans regarding the day-and-date digital release of their comics is to use the Senior Vice President of Publishing’s formspring account to ask him directly.
* If there really were a Death-Ray, Tom Spurgeon would use it on me if I copied and pasted the full-size cover image for Daniel Clowes’ new The Death-Ray hardcover that Spurge scored for himself, so here’s a wee thumbnail you can click through to see the whole thing at Tom’s place.
* I’m generally not the sort of person who gets excited about one-shot supervillain spotlight comics designed to fill a particular niche and give new creators some practice swings, but lo and behold, I’m really looking forward to Captain America and Crossbones by William Harms and Declan Shalvey. This is for two reasons. The first is Shalvey, who really impressed me in his brief spin on Jeff Parker’s Thunderbolts; he brings an enticingly scratchy edge to Marvel’s naturalist-noir house style (and incidentally looks like he was born to draw a B.P.R.D. project, if Mike Mignola or John Arcudi or Scott Allie or anyone at Dark Horse is reading this). The second is just how great a job Ed Brubaker and his cohorts have done in getting me interested in and excited about Captain America’s extended cast of mask-wearing, gun-toting spy vs. spy types. A combination of the strength of the original character designs (I think I once called Crossbones a Nazi luchador), the cohesiveness of the super-espionage/black-ops milieu Brubaker situated them all in, and the fact that their mostly low-level power sets makes their physical confrontations impactful and memorable has made me a fan of Crossbones, Union Jack, Sin, Bucky, Steve Rogers, Agent 13, the whole gang.
* Oscar Moralde of The House Next Door has an entertaining review of Lady Gaga’s entertaining video for “Born This Way.” The song itself (which I’m currently listening to on repeat) has really grown on me, to the point where I’m probably going to insist upon it being played right after Patrick Hernandez’s “Born to Be Alive” in the operating room when my daughter is born in a few weeks; but the best thing about the video is that it is gross and nuts and creepy and thus almost completely at odds with the buoyant tone of the song and thus pretty awesome. That guy with the full-face skull tattoo plays a prominent role, you know? There’s afterbirth involved, I’m pretty sure! Vulva zippers! Now I’m fantasizing about a Lady Gaga/Clive Barker project and getting almost physically aroused. In all seriousness, you can kvetch about calculated outrage/attention whoring all you want, but we’ve all seen stars work cultural hot buttons in the past, and by comparison Gaga is so devoted to combining signifiers of fame and attractiveness with artsy-fartsy horror-movie grotesqueries in a way that I imagine makes it tough for normal people to get even a little bit comfortable with it that it’s delightful, and a horse of a different color than, like, Madonna making sexy songs while also actually being really sexy, or Marilyn Manson making scary songs while being scary, or whatever. That said, I’m a little worried that the prosthetic bones in her skin are going to be thinspo for a lot of eating-disordered young women.
* Christina Aguilera really is having a rotten year. It’s really too bad — she seems like a likable person who frequently follows her sexual and artistic muse to her career’s detriment, even if I’ve almost never really cared for the music that has resulted. (In retrospect, “What a Girl Wants” and “Dirrty” strike me as her career highs. “Ain’t No Other Man” I always thought was overrated, DJ Premier notwithstanding.)
* This oughta pick you up a bit, if you need it, and even if you don’t know the party involved: Longtime friend of the blog Sean Belcher has experienced literally the single best resolution to being laid off that I have ever seen. That’s another one for the good guys.
* Finally, this epic reply-all email debate between Fantagraphics co-publishers Kim Thompson and Gary Groth about Dilbert (!!!!!) is exactly what I imagined working at Fantagraphics would be like.