Posts Tagged ‘gaming’

A brief note on Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

December 15, 2017


This is the greatest thing I’ve ever seen in a videogame

A quick word about ‘Undertale’

January 6, 2017

After many months of my two kids (5 and 7) talking endlessly about the Undertale play-throughs they’d been watching on YouTube (this is a huge, huge thing for little kids, apparently), we finally got the game and started playing it together. The biggest source of frustration for me, and by extension for them, is how the basic gameplay mechanics involve what amounts to trickery on the part of the game. Everyone knows that the goal is to get through the game while killing as few monsters as possible. If the game made that simply difficult to figure out, fine. But what it does is present you with characters, your early ally Toriel being the best example, who are impossible not to kill unless you literally ignore all evidence the game provides to the contrary and keep doing the same seemingly ineffective shit over and over until, magically, it becomes effective. A game in which combat is an option but is to be avoided at all costs is a thoughtful evolutionary step for this genre; duping you into thinking it’s unavoidable unless you read the internet and find out you’re just supposed to ignore your lying eyes makes it much less so.

May 20, 2015

One thing you don’t realize until you have a child is that stories about redemptive, heroic violence are omnipresent. Once a child is past toddlerhood and demands narrative media of greater complexity, violent conflict becomes an inescapable requisite. Having a daughter adds a layer of complicity: Boys are fed this stuff automatically, but with a girl you so often deliberately expose her to violent stories that would not reach her otherwise for the sake of egalitarianism. To send the message to your kid that the boy/girl binary is false you’re stuck showing her “boy stuff,” invariably involving punching or lasers, or “girl versions” of “boy stuff,” which port over those values as a cost of increased dynamism on the part of the female protagonist.

Every story I love from childhood involves solving problems with heroic violence. How can I share that love with my kid without imparting that view? It took me three decades to shake loose of it myself. Even when I thought I was out, I was in, as people who knew me ten, twelve years ago know. I’m sure smarter, better parents of daughters than I have figured it out, but I’m fucking stumped.

I’ve been playing The Legend of Zelda with my daughter, age four. She is viscerally thrilled by the scope and the mystery, and it’s a joy to behold. She wants to know why the monsters are mean. I don’t know what to tell her.

That’s overdramatic, of course. As my dear friends Julia Gfrörer and Stefan Sasse pointed out to me, monsters are a vital embodiment of several crucial ideas — the beasts of nature, harmful everyday things you can’t negotiate, meanness itself. And it is delightful to have raised a child of such industrious empathy, a child so perturbed by meanness and rudeness as her tiny conception of cruelty that it’s the lens through which she views evil itself. But still: the guilt I feel when she chooses the sword.


August 22, 2013

Over the past couple weeks I’ve been a busy boy on Vorpalizer, the blog of the Science Fiction Book Club, as usual.

In my Webcomic Wednesday series, I wrote about the art of Heather Benjamin (which I obviously love) and The Long Journey by Boulet, empty calories but tasty, and “About the Author” by Pete Toms (“Repetition works, David. Repetition works, David.”).

And in my Roots and Beginnings series, I talked about The Goonies, bullying, and escapism, and (via art by Sam Bosma) my greatest D&D experience ever.

Carnival of souls: Clive Barker, Julia Gfrörer, Michael DeForge, Beyoncé, My Bloody Valentine, more

February 4, 2013

* Clive Barker revealed that he worked as a hustler through the publication of Weaveworld in 1987, in a Facebook conversation with the artist Dave McKean. By that point he’d published all six Books of Blood, The Damnation Game, and The Hellbound Heart. Barker is one of my very few heroes, a man who seems to have lived his life and pursued his art the way these things are meant to be done; I’m sad that he clearly remains so saddened by this secret part of his life.

* Julia Gfrörer is publishing a book version of her comic Black Is the Color through Fantagraphics and she posted a hugely impressive comic called “World Within the World” that feels like getting slapped in the face repeatedly.

* Somehow I’d managed not to read “Cody,” a story Michael DeForge serialized on one of his websites last autumn — it’s now all on one continuously scrolling page so there’s no excuse anymore. Turns out it’s a weird, funny, really precise and thoughtful exploration of subcultures and the sacrifices we make of parts of ourselves that are surplus to our chosen identities.

* Also, I somehow whiffed on the announcement that Koyama Press is putting out Michael DeForge’s collected short stories in a volume called Very Casual. It’s a very good time period for that kind of thing, with killer collections from Josh Simmons, Gabrielle Bell, Hans Rickheit, and Sammy Harkham coming out last year as well.

* Zak Smith devises a table of 100 random Tolkien/Jackson elements for your RPG needs. Listing these elements in this way does a few things. First, it’s funny. Second, its list-format-derived fantasy-potpourri feeling gives lie to the notion that Tolkien had a hemmed-in, orderly imagination that made its impact primarily through “realistic” worldbuilding. Third, it gives some shine to Jackson as an interpreter and remixer of Tolkien’s foundational work. Fourth, it demonstrates that both artists have a facility for conjuring very specific and unique emotional or tonal images arising from setting and/or character (eg. “a depressed warrior princess,” “magnificent fireworks”), to go with the genre-related images of creatures and plot points and so on (eg. “enormous, intelligent birds of prey,” “a horde of climbing goblins.”)

* Not unrelated: The Gygaxian lawful/neutral/chaotic//good/neutral/evil schematic for character alignment was some revolutionary ideological rebooting.

* Hellboy colorist Dave Stewart will be coloring Craig Thompson’s forthcoming all-ages graphic novel Space Dumplins. That will look nice.

* Speaking of the Mignolaverse, BPRD cowriters Mignola and Arcudi are doing an armored-supersoldier WWII period piece called Sledgehammer 44 with artist Jason Latour. I hadn’t even heard this was in the works.

* An all-too-rare new comic by Uno Moralez!

* And a less rare but still always welcome Moralez-assembled image/gif gallery!

* My collaborator Matt Rota’s art is getting to that “was this made by human hands?” point. Those pink fleshtones!

* Had to happen eventually: Jonny Negron and cocaine.

* Had to happen eventually: Jonny Negron and animated gifs.

* Had to happen eventually: Jonny Negron and full-color comics. Negron is inevitable.

* I can’t say enough good things about the elliptical fantasy one-pagers my collaborator William Cardini has been putting up lately. What an innovative marriage of format, genre, pacing, and effect.

* How lovely (and unexpected) have Zach Hazard Vaupen’s experiments with color been?

* Andy Burkholder, q v i e t.

* Renee French, “That nightmare goat.”

* This is some immaculate cartooning by Gabrielle Bell. There’s an intensity here I’ve never seen from her before, and her off-kilter way of spotting blacks is really cohering into a statement.

* Colleen Frakes goes dark.

* COOP draws Crowley.

* You’d be hard pressed to find better value for your illustration-enjoying dollar than a “Here’s all the stuff I drew in 2012” post by Hellen Jo.

* Tom Neely started a tumblr for his porn drawings. They’re gorrrrgeous. (They get much dirtier than the ones below.)

* On a not-dissimilar wavelength, I support these pieces by Garry Leach and John Romita Sr. and thank Benjamin Marra for posting them.

* Robin McConnell interviews Noel Freibert for Inkstuds. His work keeps getting better and white-hotter.

* Simon Hanselmann’s talented and funny enough that his comics have no need to be as raw and powerful as they are.

* I’d love to see Jillian Tamaki’s SuperMutant Magic Academy become the Achewood of the 20teens.

* Gore Verbinski, director of The Ring and The Pirates of the Caribbean, is adapting…Guy Delisle’s Pyongyang?

* Was Kylie Minogue the first person to make music that “sounded like Kylie,” or is there some antecedent of which I’m unaware? (Via Jamieson Cox.)

* I got a great deal out of BuzzFeed’s rundown of 16 great musical happenings from the past month — fine writing about fine music in a variety of styles. One of those things is “Full of Fire,” the 9-plus-minute new single by the Knife, which is relentlessly intense yet never ever aggravating. How they can keep you in that edge-of-panic listening state for that long across repeated listens is beyond me, but I’m glad they’re doing it. I’m glad they’ve constructed this aggressive industrial edifice at the heart of critical attention.

* Before I saw this video for “Heidi’s Head” by Kleenex I’m not sure I’d ever really internalized the way in which punk and post-punk were threatening to the existing rock paradigm, perhaps because I always loved them all equally. But man oh man is this ever the sound of a bunch of young people telling the dinosaurs “We don’t need you.” (Thanks, Douglas Wolk.)

* On the dinosaur side of the equation, I’ve been enjoying Steven Hyden’s “Winners’ History of Rock and Roll” series on enormously successful critic-proof rock bands. The link takes you to the opening installment, on Led Zeppelin, the second-greatest band of all time, isolating the Jimmy Page-concocted “sound” of how the band recorded itself as the key to its lasting success, which seems dead-on to me. He also tackles Kiss and Bon Jovi, the worst and second-worst bands of all time, and Aerosmith, who were very good through Pump and then stopped being good.

* Hey look it’s pictures of Kate Moss and Foxy Brown and Kate Winslet and Michelle Dockery Beyoncé and Beyoncé again and Beyoncé again and Dave Gahan and Rainer Andreeson, for your looking at pictures of attractive people needs.

* Drawings of criminal conduct are not criminal conduct. No one should go to prison for having drawings.

* “we are all responsible for the dialogue we foster, the culture we create, the criticism we enable; a few more hits aren’t worth it”—Tom Spurgeon. I’d forgotten about this quote of Tom’s before browsing some old tweets just now, but I was thinking of something very similar after the long-awaited new album by My Bloody Valentine was suddenly released this Saturday — I found myself preemptively dreading the smartest seen-it-all, above-it-all guy in the room quips I suspected I was bound to see about it online. I’m trying to adopt what my Catholic school teachers used to call “an attitude of gratitude.” With something like MBV and their landmark record Loveless, which is so special and singular, it comes down to acknowledging it as such, and not spraying a bunch of diarrhea into the discourse surrounding a beautiful unique thing or the people that made it. The same thing could probably be said about Beyoncé, a monumental talent who seems to draw out the worst and most dismissive parts of some people. I’ve had a tough run for a while now, and the art that moves me is important to me, and I’m trying to conduct myself in a way that respects that, and surround myself with other people who do the same.

Carnival of souls: Gossip Girl, Edie Fake, Fluxblog 2012, Chris Ware on Newtown, Shallow Rewards on shoegaze, more

January 4, 2013

* Gossip Girl aired its series finale a few weeks ago. I watched every episode of that show and spent much of that time delighted in smiling-while-shaking-my-head-and-muttering-“you-magnificent-bastards” fashion. My friends Ben Morse and Kiel Phegley have reviewed the finale and the entire series in a two-part conversation that’s my favorite writing about Gossip Girl I’ve ever read. Here’s part one and here’s part two. The final two episodes of the show included two major events I’m still trying to wrap my head around; they both leave a bad taste in my mouth, but as Kiel and Ben convincingly argue, a Gossip Girl climax that didn’t leave a bad taste in your mouth wouldn’t be Gossip Girl.

* Edie Fake has come out of nowhere with a series of gouache and ballpoint-pen pictures of buildings called Memory Palaces that are among those rare works of art that make me go “Wow, I had no idea you could do that.” If you took the castles at the end of a Super Mario Bros. level and imagined that culture evolved forward a thousand years, you’d get something like this. It also puts me in mind of the old NES game Milon’s Secret Castle, or at least my hazy memories of same. Finding out where the buildings are from only makes it more remarkable. I sit and stare at this art like an apeman at the monolith. Never saw it coming.

* Still the best: Matthew Perpetua has released the Fluxblog 2012 Survey Mix, a TEN-disc overview of the year’s best music. It’s an overwhelming number of songs in a dizzying variety of genres and styles, but Matthew puts each disc together with thought and care and attention to flow, so you should feel free to DL ’em all but listen to them one at a time. Find one with a few songs you dig or are intrigued by and let the rest come at you.

* My wife is a teacher and we are parents, and Chris Ware is the greatest cartoonist, so virtually every aspect of Ware’s New Yorker cover and essay about Newtown resonated with me deeply. This passage in particular evokes the way all of my personal and political anger and dread runs together lately:

In the course of the next few days, I was privy to the exchanges among my wife and her colleagues about Newtown, culminating in flabbergasted e-mails and Facebookings following the farcical N.R.A. press conference. Memes abounded, like, “First they call us union thugs and now they want to arm us?!” and self-mocking jokes about their own forgetfulness: “Do you really want to trust people like us with guns?” (Teachers are notoriously overworked and so occasionally forget their two pounds’ worth of keys in one classroom or another.) What astonished me most was that the gun lobby seemed to imply that it was somehow partly the unarmed teachers’ fault that the Newtown shooting occurred at all. Well, why not? Isn’t everything lately always somehow the teachers’ fault?

Meanwhile, our government revved its engines to Evel-Knievel itself over the fiscal cliff, civilization’s rock face having partly crumbled away because a clot of representatives seem to feel that government shouldn’t be funded at all. Over the holiday break, news arrived that thirty-seven Philadelphia public schools were closing because of budgetary cuts, and meanwhile the whole idea of public education continues to be cored out nationwide by taxpayer-funded private “charter” schools in a sleight of hand that I still can’t believe is legal. (Meanwhile, my union-thug wife is too busy grading papers and planning lessons to be able to get properly mad about it all.)

* A pair of standouts from Tom Spurgeon’s Holiday Interview series: Tom Kaczynski on his surprisingly ambitious micropublishing outfit Uncivilized Books and Dean Haspiel with a startlingly frank and harsh assessment of his own career.

* Spurge also put together a list of 50 good things that happened in comics in 2012. That’s a usefully ameliorative list.

* The Comics Journal has self-selected its best posts of 2012. Something for everybody.

* Forgot to link to this before, but wow: The MoCCA Festival, now under the new management of the Society of Illustrators, has announced a new steering committee for its 2013 show: Anelle Miller, Kate Feirtag, and Katie Blocher from the Society, as well as Leon Avelino (Secret Acres), Charles Brownstein (Comic Book Legal Defense Fund), Karen Green (Columbia University), William Hatzichristos (CollectorZoo), Paul Levitz (Writer/ Educator), Barry Matthews (Secret Acres), and Tucker Stone (Bergen Street Comics). That’s an institution that’s getting serious about a small-press show that suffered from years of malign neglect — as ably detailed by Barry and Leon, who are now helping to guide it. Also I’m sure Tucker Stone and Paul Levitz will have a lot to talk about.

* Please go read First Year Healthy by Michael DeForge, now available in its entirety on one continuously scrolling page. Subtly effective horror with an extravagantly inventive sense of design. This is one of the best things he’s ever done.

* Mr. Freibert’s hot streak continues. It’s seriously like he’s a new artist.

* In contrast with the previous few links, all of which involve artists breaking their own mold in some way, this jaw-dropping Julia Gfrörer piece is more a matter of her becoming the most Julia Gfrörer she can be. I said “Jesus, Julia” out loud when I opened it.

* Always good to see new Uno Moralez work, no matter how small.

* Gorgeous cover by Zach Hazard Vaupen. Makes me wish he’d work in color more often.

* Dave Kiersh continues to post his old minicomics, which are ungainly and funny and pervy and immature and romantic and which put it all out there.

* Chris Mautner talks to Frank genius Jim Woodring about his super-fun sketchbook Problematic.

* Finally, congratulations and come back soon to Chris Ott, who says he’s wrapped up the initial run of his Shallow Rewards music-criticism video essays with (oh boy oh boy oh boy) the first two installments of a promised shit-ton of videos about shoegaze.

SHALLOW REWARDS // 24 SHOEGAZE (PART ONE) from Shallow Rewards on Vimeo.

SHALLOW REWARDS // 25 SHOEGAZE (PART TWO) from Shallow Rewards on Vimeo.

Carnival of souls: The Best Comics Conference Ever, Guy Davis, Tom Neely, more

April 17, 2012

* Is this the best line-up of comics creators ever assembled? Appearing at the University of Chicago’s Comics: Philosophy & Practice conference: Lynda Barry, Alison Bechdel, Ivan Brunetti, Charles Burns, Daniel Clowes, R. Crumb, Phoebe Gloeckner, Justin Green, Ben Katchor, Aline Kominsky-Crumb, Francoise Mouly, Gary Panter, Joe Sacco, Seth, Art Spiegelman, Carol Tyler, and Chris Ware. You’re just the Hernandez Brothers away from running the table on the Greatest Living Cartoonists. Burns, Clowes, Gloeckner, and Ware are my personal pantheon even before you consider towering figures like Crumb, Spiegelman, Mouly, Sacco, Panter, and Katchor. Good god almighty. (Via Drawn & Quarterly.)

* So this explains Guy Davis’s abrupt, weirdly underaddressed-by-Dark-Horse departure from Mike Mignola and John Arcudi’s near-peerless B.P.R.D.: He’s working on the next Guillermo Del Toro film.

* Tom Spurgeon and David Brothers on Before Watchmen, the shame of comics.

* Tim O’Shea talks to Kevin Huizenga about Gloriana, his forthcoming hardcover re-release of what I consider to be one of the greatest comics ever made by anyone, ever. Huizenga’s a difficult interview, but Tim makes it work.

* Comics Grid’s Nicholas Labarre’s essay on Roy Thomas and Mike Mignola’s adaptation of Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula is the most possessive-apostrophe-heavy link I’ve made in ages, but worth your time nonetheless. I remember the owner of my teen-years comic shop really giving that book the hard sell to me, to the point where I felt bullied into buying it. At the time I assumed he knew I was a big fan of the film and thus an easy mark for the tie-in, but now I wonder if he was simply trying to expose me to Mignola.

* Okay, Jillian Tamaki, now you’re just showing off.

* Tom Neely #1: Rob Clough review’s Neely’s fascinating The Wolf, one of the best comics of 2011.

* Tom Neely #2: My God, Neely’s parodies of various Kramers Ergot contributors (drawn in the style of KE regular Tom Gauld’s great-author comics) are unbelievably hilarious and mean, and I say that despite really liking the work of almost everyone lampooned thereby.

* Tom Neely #3: He’s drawing beautiful naked women again. PROCEED.


* Did you know? Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval was the original model for Paul Pope’s character HR in THB. Once seen, it cannot be unseen.

* Fine writing by Matthew Perpetua about the enduring appeal of Kraftwerk.

* Fine writing by the Mindless Ones, Matt Zoller Seitz, and Deborah Lipp on recent Mad Men episodes.

* Related: Josh Wigler, host of the MTV News Watching the ‘Thrones’ video roundtables on Game of Thrones in which I participate, put together a pretty dizzying summary of all the geek-culture references and connections on last weekend’s Mad Men. I missed the Lost homage, myself.

* Watching this gameplay video from the old SNES sidescroller/sim hybrid ActRaiser, I suddenly understood Proust and his madeleines.

* Finally, I’m not a big gamer, I’m definitely not a big fighting gamer, and I don’t even own one of the systems for which such a game would be available, but boy oh boy do I want a Game of Thrones fighting game. (Via Topless Robot.)

Carnival of souls: Making D&D with Porn Stars, more

April 5, 2012

* Zak Smith/Sabbath of Playing D&D with Porn Stars (and, y’know, the Whitney Biennial and suchlike) has been hired to work on the next edition of Dungeons & Dragons. Not a hoax, not a dream, not an imaginary story.

* I’m at the point where I almost want to take Michael DeForge’s drawing implements away from him and make him go play outside in the nice sunshine. If a day went by when he didn’t unveil a new strip for some anthology or magazine or website somewhere, I’d probably call missing persons.

* I’m saving this for when I can read the whole thing in one sitting, but Andrew White has finished his excellent SF webcomic Sexbuzz.

* Lala Albert continues to impress every time a new strip catches my (third) eye.

* J. Caleb Mozzocco raves about Tom Scioli’s American Barbarian.

* Tucker Stone raves about Derf’s revamped and expanded My Friend Dahmer. This couldn’t be more up my alley.

* Finally, I’ll probably be putting together another Carnvial of Thrones before the week is out, but the details on the forthcoming official map collection The Lands of Ice and Fire deserve a link here as well. Sothyros!

Carnival of souls: q v i e t, Film Art, Prometheus, more

March 20, 2012

* For pete’s sake, someone please hook Rick Trembles up.

* These “q v i e t” sex comics are wondrous. Sexy, funny, dissonant, imaginative, as sex tends to be at varying times. (Via Conor Stecschulte.)

* Big PictureBox sale all month long!

* Have I used the “Brian Chippendale is the best he is at what he does, and what he does is write lengthy, funny, thoughtful essays on the on-page and off-page ethics of Marvel comics” formulation yet? Because if not, let me do so here.

* Great news for film fans: Bordwell and Thompson celebrate the tenth edition of their seminal Film Art by partnering with the Criterion Collection for online examples of the techniques they discuss in the book. By the way, “seminal” gets tossed around a lot, but get this: “Film Art was the first introductory film textbook to use frame enlargements rather than publicity photographs as illustrations.” Let that sink in for a moment.

* Michael DeForge starts collecting his own go-to tropes. He seems a bit anxious about repeating himself, but I think it’s a lot of fun to have amassed enough work that you start to notice things repeatedly popping up without your having intended to put them in there. Related: Read Leather Space Man and Abbey Loafer and Military Prison and and and…

* Ben Katchor’s “Logo Rage” is his funniest, bleakest strip in some time. Go read the whole thing.

* Jason tries crosshatching.

* Hot stuff from ADDXSTC fave Conor Stechschulte.

* Meanwhile, Conor’s Closed Caption Comics compatriot Andrew Neyer has a new series of panel paintings I quite like.

* Aeron Alfrey’s not just the President of Monster Brains, he’s also a client.

* Upon the great artist’s death, Joe McCulloch and Chris Mautner select six essential Moebius books. It’s amazing to think that more well-done, in-print English editions exist for Jacques Tardi or Lewis Trondheim than for Moebius, but that’s where we’re at and where we’re likely to remain.

* Bruce Baugh on California gothic (The Lost Boys, Blue Velvet, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, etc.).

* Remembering the “go-motion” animation technique of Phil Tippett. This is what “real” looks like to me, in terms of movie monsters.

* Longtime friend of the blog Jason Adams of My New Plaid Pants counts down his Top 20 Movies and Top 10 Scary Movies of 2011.

* Animals are killed during the making of all shows and films. How do you think catering and craft services get their chicken and burgers and whatnot, the meat fairy?

* Finally, the trailer for Ridley Scott’s Prometheus isn’t as good as you’ve heard…it’s better. Charles Barkley was right when he said that any knucklehead can cut together an awesome trailer (I think that’s what he said), but even so. This thing is pretty much predicated on validating your continued belief, over the course of decades and in the face of reams of inferior entertainment-product based thereupon, that the concept at its core is just as majestically horrifying as you remembered it to be. Well done all around.

Carnival of souls: SPX Murderers’ Row, more

February 22, 2012

* Gilbert Hernandez, Jaime Hernandez, Daniel Clowes, Chris Ware, SPX 2012. Holy shit. That’s…that’s probably the best possible cartoonist line-up of all possible cartoonist line-ups. Can someone get Gloeckner there so I can truly kill myself afterwards?

* After a link like that I feel like a shitheel for directing you toward some doom and gloom, but needs must: Tom Spurgeon’s five reasons to worry about comics, non-piracy edition. I think that a sixth reason that could serve as an umbrella for the other five is the “tough titties” attitude so many people who ostensibly derive enjoyment from comics throw in the direction of those individuals who fall victim to those five problems.

* Ross Campbell on sexiness in his comics. As always it bums me out to see Campbell distancing himself from his very good comics Water Baby and The Abandoned, and even early Wet Moon at this point.

* Kate Beaton dispenses career advice for cartoonists.

* Matt Zoller Seitz and Steven Santos make the argument for adding a new Best Collaborative Performance award to the Oscars to honor performances created by actors, mocap, digital animators, makeup, puppeteers and so on in tandem. As you’d suspect, they were inspired by Andy Seriks, and as far as I’m concerned any such eventual award can just be called the Andy. The resulting essay series has so far championed Jeff Goldblum as Seth Brundle/Brundlefly from David Cronenberg’s The Fly as a proto-example of what they’re seeking to honor. Bonus points to the initial video essay for reminding me that every time I see Gollum falling into the Cracks of Doom, I involuntarily burst into tears.

* BK Munn makes the long-overdue case for a long-overdue comics-creator union.

* That Hans Rickheit short story collection Folly is on its way!

* Bruce Baugh returns to World of Warcraft blogging! And there was much rejoicing. I’d need two hands to count the number of times I’ve thought “Gee, I wish Bruce Baugh was still blogging about World of Warcraft” over the past year or so.

* Bruce also penned a couple of lengthy posts on potential new approaches to zombie horror. I’m partial to the idea of zombies as symbolically resonant with economic attrition as opposed to total societal collapse, myself.

* Grim reading from Anders Nilsen.

* Looks like Michael DeForge went and snuck out another comic book, Incinerator, because why not.

* And he posted a comic strip called “Exams” to Study Group while he was at it.

* Real Life Horror: The ever-more-lawless NYPD has been spying on law-abiding Muslim-American citizens not just in the five boroughs but in colleges and suburbs all around the Northeast, including where I went to school and towns near where I live.

* I don’t think you need to know anything about Robert Wyatt, or any of the music he’s talking about, to get a lot out of Ryan Dombal’s wonderful interview with Wyatt about his favorite music throughout his life at Pitchfork.

* This promo video for Game of Thrones season two is basically just a bunch of actors and crew members saying “It’s gonna be great,” but it also contains our best views so far of several key new characters.

* Did I not point out my guest appearance in Puke Force?

Carnival of souls: special extra-large edition

February 6, 2012

* They’re gettin’ the band back together, man! Tom Spurgeon breaks the news that company co-founder Mike Catron and former art director Preston White are going back to work at Fantagraphics. Spurge also interviews Catron about his return to the fold.

* I love everything about this powerful post by Jessica Abel, in which she takes a look back at the last fifteen years of her life upon her and her husband Matt Madden’s recent decision to leave Brooklyn for France. And under “everything” I most definitely include their bookshelves.

* Marc Arsenault presents a visual tribute to artist Mike Kelley, who sadly took his own life last week. Kelley’s friend and publisher Dan Nadel shared some thoughts as well.

* It’s the triumphant return of Zack Soto’s The Secret Voice!

* New Sexbuzz pages by Andrew White.

* Allow me to be the last to direct you to Darkness by Boulet, a very cute and crazily gorgeously drawn 24-hour comic. Man, the way this guy draws women.

* Speaking of crazily gorgeously drawn, Frank Miller’s Holy Terror is apparently even prettier than I thought it would be. No, I still haven’t read it, because no, I still can’t bring myself to pay for it, and no, I haven’t had any more luck finding a publicity contact for Legendary’s publishing imprint than you have. (Have you?)

* Jonny Negron celebrates the return to print of his anthology Chameleon #2 the only way he knows how.

* Zach Hazard Vaupen is still making the strangest humor comics around.

* The great Benjamin Marra has an art show opening up later this month in Brooklyn.

* Chuck Forsman is about to release The End of the Fucking World #4. This is a good series.

* If you were wondering when Emily Carroll‘s influence would start to be felt on other webcomics, the answer is right about…now. (Via Tom Spurgeon.)

* Sarah Esteje drew this picture of David Bowie’s Aladdin Sane album cover using only ballpoint pens. So, you know, jeez. (Via Andrew Sullivan, of all people.)

* I am going to link you to this Michael DeForge comic about facial growths and lesions and then never look at or think about it again.

* Tucker Stone’s excellent review of Mike Mignola, John Arcudi, and Tyler Crook’s very good B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: Russia (he’s dead-on about Crook and company proving themselves and resuscitating the series after a stumble or two) has the bonus feature of functioning as a sort of “state of the Mignolaverse” report.

* The Mindless Ones’ David Allison/Illogical Volume writes about Batman Incorporated and a great many other things besides. The broad theme is how the sadness at the heart of Batman’s story taints his grand utopian projects in much the same way that the malfeasance of his real-world corporate promulgators taints his real-world utility as an icon of positivity. I go back and forth on whether that’s a reasonable thing to expect from art anyway — Grant Morrison’s brand of positivity has long struck me as a bit head-in-the-sand-ish, even before his unfortunate comments on Siegel & Shuster — but I’ve certainly felt the sting I.V.’s describing. Then again, I believe the pleasure we derive from art is quite independent of whether pleasurable things are happening in that art — Battlestar Galactica and Breaking Bad have at varying times and for varying reasons provided me with more emotional uplift than just about anything I can think of, and Christ, think about those shows for a moment. But I.V.’s not just talking about the content, he’s talking about the circumstances of their creation, which is quite another matter. It’s a meaty post.

* Ryan Cecil Smith, Lane Milburn, and more weigh in on the endangered art of Stephen Gammell in Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

* I absolutely loved the elegant simplicity (not a phrase you’d ever associate with the guy under normal circumstances) of Zak Smith/Sabbath’s post on how to advance the narrative in RPGs without railroading your players:

I call it Hunter/Hunted.

-The idea is simple and comes from about a million horror and cop stories: sometimes a scene happens because Sam Spade has found out about a baddie and sometimes a scene happens because the baddie has found out about Sam Spade. And, there, aside from a few stops for bourbon and kissing, is the plot of everything from Lost Boys to Blade Runner.

-Most investigative scenarios advise breaking things up into “scenes”–the idea is you have a scene, find clues in it, these clues lead to the next scene. They then usually cover their ass by saying either “if the PCs don’t do this or find this clue or go to the wrong place give them a bunch of hints or a prophetic dream or otherwise nurse, nudge, or nullify them until they go to the next scene” or just give some vague advice like “hey Venice is interesting, think of something”

-Not so here. Or not exactly: Basically we keep the “scene chain” structure. If the PCs go from clue to clue in a timely fashion like good investigators they follow the scene chain. However, we also give each scene a twin situation, this twin is what happens if the PCs don’t follow a given clue, follow it up the wrong path, or otherwise take too long (in-world game time) to follow the clues. In this twin situation, typically, the PCs have taken long enough to figure out what’s going on that the enemy has noticed their efforts and started hunting them.

* Real Life Horror: America’s flying killer robots target rescuers and mourners of flying killer robot victims. Warning: not liking this state of affairs may make you an al-Qaeda supporter.

* Related, in Professor T.’s “applicability” sense: Bruce Baugh flags two beautiful passages on the horrors of war from The Lord of the Rings.

* Celebrate 10 years of Fluxblog with this interview with its creator, Matthew Perpetua, my favorite music writer and a swell guy.

* Farewell to the first modern zombie, Bill Hinzman. You changed everything, sir.

Carnival of souls: Fluxblog turns 10, Ron Regé Jr. to Fantagraphics, more

February 1, 2012

* My friend Matthew Perpetua invented the mp3 blog when he launched the mighty Fluxblog ten years ago. He’s celebrating the anniversary with a series of his trademark, massive “survey” mixes, each one a multi-disc affair spotlighting the best music for each year Fluxblog’s been around. Here’s the 8-disc Fluxblog 2002 survey mix. I’m particularly gratified to see the big response in the comments for the Azure Ray and Doves songs — two of my all-time favorites.

* Fantagraphics will be publishing Ron Regé Jr.’s The Cartoon Utopia! That’s a big vote of support for a risky artist. Good for everyone involved.

* Ross Campbell is sorta semi-serializing Wet Moon Vol. 6 on his website, along with a bunch of bonus materials. I know he was bummed that Oni couldn’t fit the book into their publishing schedule until next Fall, so I’m glad they worked this out in order to get the work out there sooner.

* This interview with the Dandy Warhols’ Courtney Taylor-Taylor about his and Jim Rugg’s soon-to-be-re-released graphic novel about a leftist art-rock band One Model Nation reminds me that Taylor-Taylor is one of the great rock and roll talkers. Of all the interviews I’ve ever done, I probably think about stuff he said the most frequently. You’d be amazed how applicable a passionate endorsement of seeing Cinderella perform live is to any number of situations in everyday life.

* Tucker Stone reviews a couple dozen comics for The Savage Critics, i.e. more comics than I’ve reviewed in the last four or five months. Lots of gems in there, with two caveats: 1) He’s dead wrong about Garden being worse than Travel; 2) The impetus for the post is that these are comics he “couldn’t find the time (or space) to write about in a more ‘professional’ capacity,” which means that no website or publication out there is making it worth Tucker’s while to write about Acme Novelty Library or Kramers Ergot 3 and so on, which is a crime.

* Terrific review of Habibi and Paying For It by comiXology’s Kristy Valenti, who refers to them cheekily as “Dick Lit.” It’s hardly as dismissive a piece as that would make it out to be, though, and it’s stuffed with why-didn’t-I-think-of-that observations: Seth and Joe Matt as the Charlotte and Miranda to Chester Brown’s Carrie Bradshaw; the highlighted, isolated, orderly beds upon which Chester and the prostitutes he hires have sex as an operating theater. And by focusing on sex and love as the driving force behind Habibi she points the way to just how interesting it ought to be to see Craig Thompson do an out-and-out porn comic, as he apparently plans to do.

* Kate Beaton is signing off of Hark, a Vagarant! for a while, which is a bummer but an understandable one given the whole world throwing itself at her feet and all. I just hope she keeps getting to draw people’s hair, eyes, and hands.

* That’s a gorgeous Jillian Tamaki illustration is what that is.

* And Kali Ciesemier ain’t no slouch either.

* Yeesh, this is quite a page from Geoff Grogan’s Nice Work, which he’s begun serializing on his website.

* Mark P. Hensel interviews Ryan Cecil Smith. And Ao Meng also interviews Ryan Cecil Smith. Saving these for when I can read them back to back.

* Saving this for later, too: Amypoodle’s Batman Incorporated: Leviathan Strikes! annotations, part two. Any post on Batman comics that kicks off with a Oneohtrix Point Never video is okay in my book.

* At the always excellent Comics Grid, Peter Wilkins writes about the wonderful heartachey North No. 2 piano-playing interlude in Naoki Urasawa’s Pluto.

* I look at the villain mini-figures for Lego’s Lord of the Rings line and can see nothing but the hours and hours I will spend smashing them to bits in some future Lego LotR video game.

* Allow me to be the last to direct you to the latest Game of Thrones Season Two trailer.

* Finally, D’Angelo presents the feel-good clip of the year, if you’re a D’Angelo fan. Try not to grin like an idiot during this. (Via Pitchfork.)

Carnival of souls: Katie Skelly to Sparkplug, Lisa Hanawalt, Shawn Cheng, more

January 24, 2012

* Sparkplug has announced that Katie Skelly’s Nurse Nurse is to be their first new comic. Best of luck to both halves of this arrangement.

* Oh look, Lisa Hanawalt may have just done her best weirdo strip ever and best gag strip ever, back to back.

* It took me a while to find it, but Zack Soto and Milo George’s relaunched Study Group website has a blog component with its own RSS feed that you should certainly consider subscribing too. Highlights thus far include a Noah Butkus spotlight (Jesus Christ, “Forces”!) and an interview with cartoonist Maré Odomo, who cites writer and ADDXSTC fave Kevin Fanning as an influence, which was unexpected and exciting to see. Odomo also cites the influence of Blaise Larmee and Aidan Koch, but in terms of the beauty of their pencil art rather than any of Larmee’s theory trolling, which until relatively recently was rarely made manifest in his comics themselves.

* John Mejias draws our attention to an upcoming Shawn Cheng art show. He’s a printmaking master, and he’s doing stuff you don’t see any other cartoonist/printmakers doing, I don’t think.

* Anders Nilsen responds to his critics.

* At a certain point pulling art from Michael DeForge’s Ant Comic in order to show you how horrible and beautiful it is becomes a waste of time: Surely you already know how horrible and beautiful it is. At any rate, here’s the latest Ant Comic.

* Rickey Purdin has been posting nightmarish little sketches unlike any art I’ve seen from him before. This one’s called “All the Weapons You Needed Were Over Here.”

* The Ashcan All-Stars group art blog, staffed mostly by interesting mainstream/genre artists, is doing a He-Man and the Masters of the Universe week, and it’s been pretty glorious. Below are contributions from Nick Pitarra and Aaron Kuder.

* The Mindless Ones’ Amypoodle has begun annotating Batman Incorporated: Leviathan Strikes.

* Jeez, this Jason Karns fellow is a goddamn gold mine.

* It’s The Best of Zak Smith/Sabbath’s Playing D&D with Porn Stars! I can barely conceive of what a timesuck following all those links would be.

* I’m just waiting very patiently for the Lord of the Rings/Hobbit Lego videogames.

* God bless Uno Moralez.

Carnival of souls: Some Comics Journal links, some monster art, some music talk, more

January 20, 2012

* Dang, Ken Parille’s Comics Journal year-in-review piece tackles Habibi, 1-800-MICE, Holy Terror, Optic Nerve #12, The Death-Ray, Mister Wonderful, Crack Comics #63, and Ganges #4 as well as any individual review of any of them has done. (And I say that as a person who wrote about 5/8 of those books for the Journal myself.) Parille’s writing is like a really delicious sampler platter — you get the sense he just picked the tastiest morsels of insight on any given book and presented them to you for your delectation, but that there’s a whole lot more where that came from.

* Wonderful piece on Adrian Tomine’s Optic Nerve #12 by Tim Hodler. I like what he says about the unique characteristics of structuring a longer story as a series of funnypages-style strips, and this: “his storytelling displays a subtlety so far beyond most of what’s being published at the current moment.” Ayup. As alternative comics has begun looking less like RAW and more like Heavy Metal, we’ve lost something in exchange.

* I don’t know why, but a day or two ago the feed for Jessica Abel & Matt Madden’s Drawing Words and Writing Pictures blog dumped like half a dozen posts on me all at once, and there were gems galore in there: Rundowns of their Best American Comics series’s 2010 Notables and 2011 Notables (aka honorable mentions/bigger-picture selections), and notes on Asterios Polyp and Ice Haven.

* Not that I’m opposed to all the Heavy Metal stuff. Duh. I mean, Lane Milburn, holy shit, look at his next book Mors Ultima Ratio:

* On a similar note I suppose, I just happened to really like the drawing of what looks to me like Grendel and Beowulf by Thomas Yeates that Tom Spurgeon selected for his birthday post on the artist. I am a sucker for big monsters in the Hulk/Rawhead Rex vein, admittedly.

* Still on that same note, Sam Bosma reminds me of a lesson I once learned the hard way: Never trust a Mindflayer.

* Ta-Nehisi Coates lets Jay-Z off the hook for his avowed intention to continue using the word “bitch” in his lyrics. While Coates is correct in saying that the context of the use of the b-word in rap is part of the problem, he’s wrong to say “Rap’s ‘bitch’ problem has never been about the word itself” — of course it is. It’s about that among other things, but it’s certainly still about that. Coates does that sort of thing throughout the post: “There is a whole school of thought that holds racism is impossible unless attended by the word ‘nigger.’ And there are plenty of ways to regard a women as bitches, without ever saying the word.” Certainly. But just because Newt Gingrich can go on national television and receive standing ovations and become the presidential frontrunner for a major political party by saying enormously racist things without using period-piece movie-villain epithets doesn’t mean you should ignore it when people do use them. And just because hip-hop and pop culture generally’s misogyny runs deeper than calling women bitches, you still shouldn’t do it. The way to disprove that “bitch” is problematic in and of itself would be to provide examples of a non-problematic, non-sexist way to use it in hip-hop. Coates goes straight for the strawman of “I have never wanted a world where white people were forever banned from using the word nigger,” but of course no one’s actually arguing for expurgating hip-hop’s theoretical equivalent of Huck Finn, because the difference between saying these words and using them is crystal-clear. I guess the closest Jay-Z has come to that sort of thing is “That’s My Bitch,” but for me that isn’t close enough. The long and short of it for me is that there’s no need for bitch as an insult when “asshole” exists, and even less of a need for it as a simple term for “woman” when “woman” exists; continuing to use it despite these genderless equivalents indicates a problem with that gender. I’d be interested to hear of cases where this didn’t hold.

* Tom Ewing and Matthew Perpetua on Lana Del Rey and the issue of “authenticity” in art. Man, are sneer-quotes ever called for there. I thought that most of the controversy around Del Rey centered on whether or not she was any good, and whether or not her sexual politics were retrograde, and the degree to which a major record label was involved in her initial burst of ostensibly organic/viral/indie success. Those are rubrics I can understand: hype vs. talent, and anti-sexism, and not wanting to be lied to by a giant corporation. But I was quite aghast to learn that apparently some people were holding it against her that she used to perform under a different name with a different sound and look and vibe. A world where artists must emerge fully formed in their teens or early twenties with their first quasi-professionally recorded work and then remain preserved in amber for all eternity is a scary, scary world. A Bowie-free, Beatles-free, Dr. Dre-free, Underworld-free, P-Funk-free, Ministry-free, Gaga-free world! Not to compare LDR to any of those artists on a qualitative basis, mind you — see the three aforementioned potential issues with her work — but all I can tell you is rejecting the notion of the authentic self is one of the top five best things ever to happen to me, not just as a consumer and sometimes maker of art, but as a person. By all means try on personae like clothes in a dressing room until you find one that fits you, and take it off and put on new ones whenever you feel like it. What on earth is the harm in that?

(Related: I can’t help but wonder if the backlash against LDR specifically is tied to the phenomenon Scott Plagenhoef addresses in online music culture’s quest to be the first to seize upon a new artist within very narrow, inoffensive aesthetic parameters. If that’s the filter for your interaction with music, a person who radically changes very early on in her career, and changes into a very divisive mode of presentation, is anathema.)

Carnival of Souls Post-Holiday Special #4: Everything Else

January 4, 2012

* Though I think I’ve only ever played the original and Ocarina of Time, I love that Legend of Zelda continuity is so convoluted and contradictory that people theorized it must involve divergent timelines; I love even more that they were right.

* Ta-Nehisi Coates has what ought to be the final word on the vices and virtues of Louis Farrakhan Ron Paul. I don’t know why I never thought of Paul advocacy in messianic terms before, but of course that’s what’s going on; the support of noted Great Man enthusiast Andrew Sullivan, who appears to have retracted his recent retraction of his slightly less recent endorsement of Paul for the Republican Party presidential nomination, is surely evidence of that. The problem is with seeing individual politicians, with all their flaws (and in most cases “flaws” is putting it mildly, whether you’re talking about States’ Rights dogwhistler and gold bug Ron Paul or indefinite-detainer and non-due-process-assassinator and Skynet-activator Barack Obama), in memetic-engineering terms — “If we support this person we’ll change the conversation and steer the nation toward the good” — fails to consider the systemic nature of successfully implementing change, and dismisses a host of hugely problematic issues with any given candidate in a rush to paint an Alex Ross version of their portrait. And again, no one’s forcing anyone to endorse anyone; doing so as an act of supposed bravery but downplaying your candidate of choice’s problems is in fact an act of cowardice.

* Related thought triggered by Coates’s material on Farrakhan: All religions are completely crazy in terms of their “supernatural history,” if you will; it’s just that we’ve been hearing about the major ones for so many centuries that receiving celestial instructions from a brushfire or rising from the dead and then flying up to Heaven no longer seem quite as crazy as more recent developments like the Angel Moroni or Intergalactic Warlord Xenu do. That said, I feel like between Mormonism, Scientology, and the Nation of Islam, America has cooked up some uniquely science-fictional cults-cum-full-fledged-denominations, and I wonder if anyone’s ever stacked them up side to side as such.

* Jim Henley wrote a song for America; they told him it was clever.

* I hadn’t been super enthused for Ridley Scott’s yes-no-maybe-probably-yeah-definitely Alien prequel Prometheus, because it’s 2012 and it’s Ridley Scott. Then I saw this trailer. Any knucklehead can make a compelling trailer, but pacing and music and title font treatment aside, you simply don’t see scary cosmic monoliths like you did in ’70s SF anymore. Seeing that giant whatever-it-is on that alien planet was like coming home.

* In case you missed it, my favorite fantasy franchises gave us several Christmas presents:

** Here’s a sample chapter from George R.R. Martin’s The Winds of Winter. (SPOILERS, of course!) The great Elio & Linda of discuss it here.

** Here’s a trailer for Season Two of Game of Thrones. Everyone looks great and Stannis sounds great.

** And here once again is the trailer for The Hobbit, which I suppose I should get used to calling The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey for the purposes of this first film. The chills I got when the Dwarves started singing their song! Straight-up outreach to everyone who was raised on the Rankin-Bass cartoon, and successful outreach at that. BTW, I saw a lot of talented artists complaining about what they perceived to be fussy, overly toyetic, off-brand Dwarf designs, but let’s face it, the filmmakers had to help the audience be able to differentiate between thirteen axe-wielding beardos, because it’s not really like Tolkien himself even tried!

Carnival of souls: Jerry Robinson, my BCGF con report, more

December 9, 2011

* Cartoonist Jerry Robinson has died at age 89. In addition to creating the Joker, co-creating Robin, and basically co-creating what we all picture as “Batman” in terms of the concept’s look and cast, he was a pioneering comics historian and creators’ rights advocate — proof that even those who benefited from the system didn’t have to shy away from trying to better it.

* My BCGC con report can be found at Robot 6. I really like this show — a mainline hit of exactly what I love about comics today — and tried to articulate what sets it apart from comparable cons.

* Secret Acres’ dynamic duo of Barry and Leon always whip up the most well-written con reports, and this time is no exception. I don’t know how they do it. You really get a sense of their whole experience — creative, commercial, cultural, communal.

* Kevin Czap had one heck of a con haul! His brief overview articulates something I’d sort of picked up on myself, which is that Kramers Ergot is now the elder statesman of artcomics anthologies rather than the place you go to find shit you’ve never seen before. It’s interesting how the new volume’s more restrained and refined approach feeds into that vibe.

* And Nick Gazin at Vice has the best of the photo parades. Plus, if you are interested in finding out whether or not he personally finds a given woman cartoonist physically attractive, then boy howdy is it a treasure trove of information. No word on how hot he finds Dan Nadel, pictured below. (Via Jonny Negron.)

* Big get alert: Drawn and Quarterly is picking up Gilbert Hernandez’s forthcoming semiautobiographical graphic novel Marble Season. This could be a pretty interesting effort — I mean, okay, it’s Beto, so it’ll definitely be a pretty interesting effort. But what I mean is that a) the stuff he does for publishers other than Fantagraphics is usually off-brand for him in ways that demand examination, and b) by the sound of it, it’s an account of his childhood love of comics, which means it probably will eschew the extreme sex and violence of most of his Love and Rockets and Fritzverse work these days, and thus may help the audience appreciate just how good he is lately without those potential impediments if that’s not their thing.

* Holy — The 2011 and 2012 J.R.R. Tolkien Calendars featured Cor Blok?? It’s so refreshing to see artists interpret epic fantasy without working in the hyperreal visual tradition — cf. yesterday’s Danger Country review — and Blok was one of the best at it. The first time I saw his Tolkien art was a true revelation. Look what you could do with this material! (Via Tom Spurgeon.)

* I love it when Zak Smith/Sabbath just tosses out dozens and dozens of great fantasy storytelling ideas like it ain’t no thing. Today he’s doing it with barbarian cultures. Come for the ideas, stay for the oblique George R.R. Martin diss!

* Here’s a sharp little essay from Matt Seneca on John Romita Sr., “the quintessential Marvel artist.” The other week Tom Spurgeon got some José Luis Garcia-Lopez DC character art going around, so I said something on twitter about how José Luis Garcia-Lopez is to DC what John Romita Sr. is to Marvel, that they’re equivalently definitive artists for their respective publishers’ visual identities. Matt says the same thing in the comments. (Romita trumps Garcia-Lopez in terms of the comics themselves.)

* Whoosh, this Sam Hiti piece is hot stuff. (Via Sam Bosma.)

* My favorite band, Underworld, have been named music directors for the opening ceremony at the 2012 Olympics in London. Their longtime collaborator Danny Boyle is the artistic director. And so I’ll be watching some of the Olympics!

* A Goldfrapp singles collection could go a long way to showing just how strong their repertoire is. Most underrated band of the ’00s.

* Kiel Phegley reminds us that this is what Yvonne Craig looked like.

* I feel I’ve been lax in my duty to direct you to my tumblr for photographs of Beyoncé Knowles and David Bowie, Bowie Loves Beyoncé. Perhaps this will remedy that in some way. Some wonderful way.

* Finally, start the weekend off right with an Uno Moralez image/gif gallery.

Carnival of souls: Night Business #4, Lose #4, more

November 21, 2011

* Benjamin Marra’s Night Business #4 is on sale now! Wow, this is a big year for Ben.

* I take this Michael DeForge post to mean that Lose #4 is on its way. And here’s some illustrations and a strip, because it’s Michael DeForge and a couple of days have past since the last set of illustrations and comics he posted.

* Jason Leivian reviews the Mat Brinkman-designed board game Cave Evil. Good gravy.

* Dustin Harbin draws Osgiliath.

* Ben Morse is right: This is an incredible Survivor Series team.

* I love Big Boa.

* Is it just me or are con/signing photos of cartoonists getting better lately?

* Finally, a happier Occupy Wall Street story: behold the bat-signal of the 99%. I can’t be the only person who saw this and thought Turk-182!, right?

Carnival of souls: BCGF, The Hobbit, Loveless, people like my Spidey comic, more

November 7, 2011

* My Kraven story in Marvel Adventures Spider-Man #19 got a couple more good reviews: Here’s the big-time spider-fan site Spider-Man Crawl Space, and here’s Robot 6’s Tim O’Shea, who singles out a little layout gimmick I was pretty proud of.

* Monster guest lineup at the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival this year. Aw, who am I kidding, by “monster guest lineup” I mostly mean “oh my God, Phoebe Gloeckner!!!!” Gloeckner is one of a very, very small number of people with whom I’ve had conversations that I’ve more or less memorized.

* Anders Nilsen reveals his five favorite comics to the AV Club. (Via Peggy Burns.)

* Zak Smith/Sabbath explains how to make things weird. The answer may surprise you! As is often the case with Smith’s Playing D&D with Porn Stars blog, this post is applicable to a lot more than just playing D&D.

* Is anything in the world more comforting than Peter Jackson talking about the technological wonkery he’s deploying to make movies about Middle-earth? I’m serious — if you studied my brain chemistry while watching something like the making-of video for The Hobbit below I bet there’d be measurable changes. I love this man.

* My friends Ryan Penagos and Ben Morse have launched the This Week in Marvel podcast.

* Yep, those are Jason’s five favorite post-2000 bands, alright.

* I guess that if you’re going to troll Tom Brevoort’s formspring account, you might as well be a good writer in the process.

* You keep drawing them, I’ll keep linking to them, Tom Kaczynski.

* My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless is one of those records about which I could read breathlessly effusive birthday celebrations all the live-long day. The best thing I ever read about that album was by Pitchfork’s Mark Richardson: “I’ve long dreamt of an album that was ‘Like Loveless, but more,’ but I haven’t found it.”

* Real Life Horror: I briefly started following Andrew Sullivan’s blog again after one of my periodic hiatuses, though every time he asserted that the way to get both the country and the Obama presidency back on track is to “embrace Simpson-Bowles” I was sorely tempted to decamp again, and a post regarding a “debate” over whether or not liberals value “hard work” broke the camel’s back within less than twelve hours of re-adding the RSS feed back to my increasingly less useful Google Reader. But when he’s not espousing fatuous faith-based economics proposals or rounding up links about total nonsense he’s actually quite good, and indefatigable, on issues like torture, or in this case, pretty much the out and out murder/cover-up of several Guantanamo Bay detainees subjected to a suffocation-torture technique called dryboarding. Land of the free, home of the brave.

* Apparently this is just how Ryan Gosling looks now? Like, when he goes to music festivals and what have you?

Carnival of souls: Special “post-NYCC” edition

October 17, 2011

* Recently on Robot 6: Everybody’s talking about “The Love Bunglers,” and everybody should be talking about Jim Woodring too.

* Dustin Harbin salutes Dylan Williams.

* Lisa Hanawalt draws J.G. Ballard and opens a spiffy new store.

* New comics from Jonny Negron! Not, perhaps, what you’d expect.

* Jordan Crane’s Keeping Two has taken a turn.

* Grant Morrison’s long-discussed plans for a Wonder Woman series seem to be taking shape for sometime next year. Sounds kinky. I wonder if anyone will mutilate a horse, walk around a room naked, or dismember a guy in this one.

* David B. is working on a book on the history of U.S./Middle East relations?

* DC’s relaunch moved a lot of units. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think this is the first time a Big Two publisher has ever brought forth its own set of actual sales figures since I’ve been following these things.

* Geof Darrow’s Shaolin Cowboy never seemed to find its way into Wizard’s hallowed halls when I worked there during its run, so I have yet to read any of it. I can’t tell if the NYCC announcement that the title’s moving to Dark Horse means they’ll also be reprinting the previous material in addition to the three new issues they’ve got planned. I hope it does. There couldn’t be a more influential artist than Darrow right now.

* The Sleeper/Criminal/Incognito team of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips are working on a Lovecraftian noir series called Fatale, surprisingly for Image rather than Marvel’s creator-owned Icon line.

* At Marvel proper, Rick Remender and Gabriel Hardman, one of their best writers and best artists respectively, will be taking over Secret Avengers. It’ll probably be pretty darn good. I read somewhere that Bettie Breitweiser, one of their best colorists, won’t be rejoining Hardman here, though, which is too bad. Also Jack Kirby deserved more credit and rights and money and so do his heirs, but you knew that.

* Marvel’s Tom Brevoort explains how nearly all of a given superhero franchise’s titles can end up dumped into stores on the same day. I do wonder how DC’s experiment with rigorous scheduling will affect this conventional wisdom.

* Worth noting: Zak Smith/Sabbath wrote an RPG manual for his fantasy city Vornheim.

* Real Life Horror: Wake me when Obama sends military advisors to take down the pope.

* They’re not making movie cameras anymore. My jaw dropped when I read this.

* Roger Corman, ladies and gentlemen.

* Scarlet Witch cosplayer at NYCC photographed by Judy Stephens. Sure, sure.

Carnival of souls: Ignatz Awards, Atomic Comics, Jerry Leiber, more

August 22, 2011

* Sammy Harkham, Edie Fake, and Michael DeForge lead a strong slate of Ignatz Award nominees this year. Who knows — maybe the voters will throw the obviously undeserving Chris Ware a pity win.

* Here’s the latest in a series of dispiriting interviews with the gifted superhero comics writer Grant Morrison. It’s related to this Rolling Stone profile, which in turn is accompanied by this quite good “best of Grant Morrison” list by Matthew Perpetua.

* The large Arizona comics retail chain Atomic Comics has abruptly gone out of business, with owner Mike Malve filing for bankruptcy. Comics people I talked to about this today were pretty freaked out.

* In a rare return to his home turf Jog the Blog, Joe McCulloch presents a short bit of (also rare lately) writing on art comics, among other things, with his Top Ten Comics list.

* Tucker Stone really liked Ryan Cecil Smith’s SF #1. I liked it too.

* Secret Acres’ Barry and Leon present their PACC con report. They also note that Dylan Williams of the very valuable comics publisher Sparkplug is ill, which I’m sad to hear. Get well, Dylan!

* Wow: Tom Neely is working on one of Matt Maxwell’s Western-horror Strangeways comics.

* Here’s a neat-looking project from Split Lip writer and nascent-horror-blogosphere veteran Sam Costello and artist Neal Von Flue: Labor and Love, a collection of four comics adaptations of American folk ballads. It debuts at SPX.

* Zak Smith on the most disturbing room in D&D.

* Matt Rota draws the Republican Party in action for the New York Times.

* Jerry Leiber, half of the Leiber/Stoller songwriting team, has died. What a monstrous talent.