Carnival of souls: Star Wars, Netflix, more

* Rob Bricken explains why you may or may not want to buy the Star Wars blu-ray box set. He’s on the fence, but his comprehensive assessment of all the set’s features, pro and con, ought to give you enough information to make up your mind. For me it’s a clear no. I don’t begrudge George Lucas the opportunity to endlessly tinker with the world he created. The guy built an entire industry with his imagination, and owns the rights to all of it, a fate that has eluded almost all of his antecedents and very few of his descendants. I’d guess that getting to constantly refine and mess with what you’ve built has got to be unimaginably delightful. But speaking personally, I’m not interested in seeing the tinkering — I’m interested in seeing the versions of the films that made me like them in the first place. I’m certainly not interested in rewarding a series of decisions/revisions/additions/subtractions that have made them worse films.

* While we’re on the subject of customer-independent film-industry business decisions, I find yesterday’s letter of apology cum backdoor announcement of a major overhaul of his entire company from Netflix CEO Reed Hastings maybe the most uniquely bizarre such move I’ve ever seen. People like Endgadget’s Darren Murph and Slate’s Farhad Manjoo are probably right about the underlying strategy: a sort of preemptive amputation of the company’s beloved DVD direct-mail business model, prepping for its eventual destruction on the company’s terms rather than dealing with it over a prolonged period on the market’s terms. In this light, everything that looks stupid or awful about the announcement is a feature, not a bug: Using an attempt to staunch customer-base and stock bleeding caused by the company’s last poorly handled major change as an opportunity to announce an even more complicated and infuriating business model; slapping the newly spun-off DVD business with a ridiculous name, Qwikster, that sounds like a failed Internet startup from ten years ago; spending a significant chunk of time explaining how much more user-unfriendly the new set-up will be; maintaining a sad-sack hostage-tape demeanor throughout the entire affair. But to me this only makes sense if all the damage were completely contained within the customer base for the red-enveloped stepchild DVD business, and it obviously isn’t. The Netflix-proper streaming customers got this letter and marveled at its lugubriousness, prolixity, and lack of understanding of what “apology” means along with everyone else. Maybe some next-level business mind can explain to me why deliberately making yourself look bad and your company less useful for nearly all of your customers, publicly, twice in a row, is actually four-dimensional-chess checkmate, but I don’t see it. I can tell you that the only thing that stopped me from cancelling my Netflix/Qwikster account yesterday is feeling like I need to get a return on my investment in having rented the same two unwatched Mad Men discs for the duration of my wife’s pregnancy and our child’s subsequent first six months of life.

* Here’s a photo of Tom Neely, Lisa Hanawalt, Johnny Ryan, and Benjamin Marra from the SPX panel I hosted, “Excruciating Detail: Drawing the Grotesque.” They seem to have enjoyed it, which is nice. Both this and the Craig Thompson Habibi panel I moderated were filmed, so I’m hoping I’ll be able to link to the video soon.

* Frank Santoro will teach you comics by mail.

* S.H.O.O.T. First writer Justin Aclin once pointed out to me that the comics equivalent of Seinfeld‘s white-hot contempt for the elderly is Axe Cop‘s naked loathing of babies. In that light, the current Axe Cop storyline is the equivalent of any episode centered on Del Boca Vista or the Costanzas.

* Tom Spurgeon’s review of The Intrepids #6, a comic I haven’t read, also functions as a review of, really, the vast majority of superhero and superhero-ish comics today, many of which I have read. “Ruthlessly familiar” is just about right.

* This Adrian Tomine print is really really hot stuff. Sexiness has always been one of his comics’ secret weapons.

* Check out the colors in this Michael DeForge comic.

* Dave Kiersh keeps posting his old comics and art, which keep being one of the great hidden treasures in all of comics.

* Hans Rickheit made Cochlea and Eustacea puppets, which aren’t at all disturbing.

* Alisa Kiss as Red Sonja, photographed at Dragon*Con by Anna Fischer. “I just want you boys to see what you’re fighting for, that’s all.”

* It’s awful that anyone can have the last word on Dylan Williams, but if it has to be that way, let it be Tom Spurgeon.

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