Posts Tagged ‘gaming’
* 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.”)
* 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.
* 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.
* 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.
* 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.)
* Robin McConnell interviews Noel Freibert for Inkstuds. His work keeps getting better and white-hotter.
* 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, moreFriday, January 4th, 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.
* 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.
* 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.
* 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.
* 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.
* 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.
* 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.
* 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.)
* 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.
* 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!
* For pete’s sake, someone please hook Rick Trembles up.
* 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.
* Meanwhile, Conor’s Closed Caption Comics compatriot Andrew Neyer has a new series of panel paintings I quite like.
* 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.
* 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.
* 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.
* 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.
* 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.
* 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?
* 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.
* 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?)
* Chuck Forsman is about to release The End of the Fucking World #4. This is a good series.
* 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.
* 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.
* 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.
* 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.
* Yeesh, this is quite a page from Geoff Grogan’s Nice Work, which he’s begun serializing on his website.
* 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.)
* 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.
* 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.
* 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.
* 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.
* 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.)
* 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 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!
* 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.)
* 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.
* 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.
* 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.
* Ben Morse is right: This is an incredible Survivor Series team.
* 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?
* 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.
* 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.
* 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?
* Recently on Robot 6: Everybody’s talking about “The Love Bunglers,” and everybody should be talking about Jim Woodring too.
* New comics from Jonny Negron! Not, perhaps, what you’d expect.
* 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.
* 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.
* 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.
* 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!
* 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.
* Jerry Leiber, half of the Leiber/Stoller songwriting team, has died. What a monstrous talent.
* Jim Hanley’s Universe is the best comic shop I’ve ever been to. Ten years ago, my adult life in comics began there, when I paid a visit to pick up Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s New X-Men on a whim. It’s been my “local comic shop” for most of the rest of the decade. So I was stunned and sadden to hear that Hanley’s Staten Island branch was all but swept away by flooding this past weekend. All that they’re asking in terms of help is that you drop by either branch and buy something, so today I stopped in and picked up Jesse Moynihan’s Forming Vol. 1 from Nowbrow and Alan Moore & Kevin O’Neill’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol. 3: Century #2—1969 from Top Shelf. Spending forty bucks on comics has rarely felt so good. If you’re in the city, please support this wonderful store.
* If you care about Beck or what used to be called alternative music at all, you definitely want to read Ryan Dombral’s career-spanning interview with Beck at Pitchfork. What a thoughtful, honest guy he seems like. I was heartbroken to read that he lost two years’ worth of Sea Change-style music — 35 songs in all — when he misplaced a suitcase full of recordings prior to shifting gears and recording Guero with leftover ideas from the Dust Brothers, but even more horrifying is that apparently he’s never heard anyone talk nicely about his masterpiece, Midnite Vultures, and thus is sitting on 25 songs recorded in the same period. This is a travesty. From now on, if you see Beck, tell him you loved Midnite Vultures.
* Clive Barker has a prose essay collection out? Or coming out soon? Called The Painter, the Creature, and the Father of Lies? Nice.
* Say, did I mention that ADDXSTC-fave bloggers Jim Henley and Bruce Baugh have a new RPG blog called 20 X 20 Room? Probably not, since despite one or the other of them telling me so, I only really realized it yesterday. Well, now you know. They’re two of the smartest and most humanistic writers on gaming and genre art around, and you’d be hard pressed to find two bloggers more influential on my non-blogging life than they.
* John Porcellino presents his personal Top Ten Comics. It’s a pleasure to hear the great cartoonist talk about some of the other great cartoonists (Clowes and Kirby get two books apiece), as well as some off-the-beaten-path choices.
* Kevin Czap of Comix Cube reports from the Philadelphia Alternative Comics Convention, a well-regarded newcomer on the regional alt/art show scene. I don’t think there’s any reason why every city with a decent-sized number of alternative cartoonists can’t put together something like this, even if the result doesn’t end up with the high profile of a BCGF or Stumptown or TCAF or whatever.
* Benjamin Marra crushes the competition with this New Gods tribute. Omega Effect annihilation. MARRA IS!
* Speaking of Ben, who I remind you I’ll bless him for digging this up. It’s like He-Man and Skeletor are fighting in the middle of an issue of Cold Heat.
* Aeron Alfrey has put together another astonishing art gallery for his site Monster Brains, this time starring pulp cover artist Hannes Bok. In addition to stippling that’d make Drew Friedman jealous, Bok makes his otherworld creatures and scenes truly otherworldly. If there’s one thing we’ve lost from decades of seeing monsters come to life on movie screens — and don’t get me wrong, I treasure a lot of those monsters — it’s their uncanniness. It’s very very rare to see a monster that makes you feel like you’ve endangered yourself simply by seeing it.
* I literally cheered for this piece by the Comics Grid’s Katlheen Dunley on Ben Katchor and the world as a palimpsest.
* Tom Spurgeon’s description does a terrific job of selling Bill Mauldin’s Willie and Joe Back Home, but really, the cartoon on the cover speaks volumes. Can you imagine seeing this at the time? Lately it has seemed to me that deflating America’s self-image of World War II and its aftermath is vital to the country’s long-term health, and man, is this a shot to the face of those notions.
* And speaking of ADDXSTC “Hey look at this art” favorites, I don’t know if this Wei Yan piece is an homage to similarly formatted Renee French drawings, but either way, very nice.
* I won’t spoil the latest Zach Hazard Vaupen gag comic for you. Vaupen’s Rusted Skin stuff is fascinating to me, because comedically it’s totally gag comics, but visually it’s not at all. There’s nothing else like that.
* Okay, a Batman video game in which you have the option of playing as Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns Batman is a Batman video game I’d enjoy playing, but only if playing as that Batman.
* You know, it’s been way, way too long since I simply looked at a picture of Katee Sackhoff and went “guh.” Guh.
* I read A Dance with Dragons. I liked it. If you’ve read it, come talk about it with me, artists Matt Wiegle and Sam Bosma, A Song of Ice and Fire superfans/megaexperts Elio & Linda, and other august personages.
* Last week I assembled a massive gallery of great Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire fanart from around the web for Robot 6. Do check it out; there’s something for everyone, or at least every ASoIaF fan. (This piece is by Rory Phillips.)
* Your top comics story: Peter Laird is discontinuing the Xeric Grants for self-published comics following one final round of grants in May 2012. This is terrible, terrible news. Laird says he’s doing that because digital publishing and digital fundraising have abrogated the need for the Xeric, but I think that’s a massive misreading of a) what kinds of comics are made feasible by webcomics; b) what kind of comics are capable of mounting successful Kickstarter campaigns without having first established a network of contacts in online comics fandom; c) the need North American comics have for one of the few awards that really is a mark of quality (for my money it’s the Xerics, the Ignatzes, and then perhaps the awards given by TCAF and Stumptown). This is going to make things a lot tougher on alternative comics creators — you need look no further than the list of past recipients to see how many noteworthy careers were made possible in part by the Xeric. That’s gone, now. It’s tough to object to Laird’s stated goal of transferring his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle millions from funnybooks to actual improving-people’s-lives charities, but I still think the Xerics will be sorely missed.
* Your other top comics story: Borders is dead.
* Your top nerd story: The Dwarves from The Hobbit look awesome. This is a fanmade photoshop of all the pictures released so far, and it fakes Thorin’s body based on the bust shot we’ve been given, but even so, my Hobbit enthusiasm has been officially awakened.
* Kiel Phegley talks to Grant Morrison about his new prose book about superheroes, Supergods. Superlawsuit watchers may want to note Morrison’s take on Siegel & Shuster.
* Marvel’s Tom Brevoort on what DC does and doesn’t do well: part one, part two. I doubt that many people reading this blog are Marvel or DC partisans, as is the case for the audience of those posts at Robot 6, so maybe you’ll be better capable of seeing just what a gift we readers of superhero comics have in a high-profile top-level editor who’s willing to say what he thinks about most anything, and can do so articulately and with ideas he’s actually thought through over the course of years in the industry, as opposed to regurgitating PR talking points. This is very, very, very rare.
* Speaking of Brevoort, he addresses a complaint I’ve had myself: Though all of his story has been told in Ed Brubaker’s Captain America series, Bucky’s death was relegated to Matt Fraction’s Fear Itself. Brevoort says Brubaker has written an epilogue one-shot that will address the death in the context of his excellent Cap run, which is good news.
* Flannery O’Connor: The Cartoons. ‘Nuff said!
* The hardcover for Jesse Moynihan’s Forming Vol. 1 looks terrific.
* Dan White has launched a new Cindy & Biscuit website at Mindless Ones. I like that comic quite a bit.
* Paul Karasik reviews Joyce Farmer’s Special Exits for The Comics Journal. You, whoever you are, ought to read that book.
* Whoa, NeilAlien resurfaced! It’s like I’ve died and gone to earlier in 2011.
* I’ll admit it, I love this kind of crazy collector’s project: DC is releasing a $150, 1,216-page DC Comics: The New 52 hardcover containing all 52 first issues from its September relaunch. Speaking of which: Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes! (Cf.) Elsewhere, Toronto’s The Beguiling comic shop is selling all 52 issues for a bundled price of $104; that strikes me as a great idea for retailers.
* Can you imagine getting a letter of praise from a master of your art like the letter Jim Woodring sent Hans Rickheit? Man oh man.
* I’m always up for a good look at James Cameron’s Aliens, a film that’s as good at what it does as any I can think of. This one comes courtesy of Edward Copeland.
* David Lynch made an animated video for Interpol’s very good song “Lights” called “I Touch a Red Button.” It’s like an exercise in how much creepy intensity he can wring out of four or five frames. He’s very good at making horrible faces, that’s for sure.
* Wow, watching this attempt to beat Super Mario Bros. with the lowest score possible without saving or cheating made for some pulse-pounding viewing. I was literally cringing and jumping in my seat. The Hammer Brothers sequence is like the 8-bit equivalent of the stairs of Khazad-Dûm.
RUDICK: Are [the apparitions you've seen] usually the same thing or similar things?
WOODRING: No, they’re always different. The last thing I saw was a guy standing upstairs in my hallway, standing bolt upright, with a leather harness on his face.
RUDICK: Does it frighten you to see those things?
WOODRING: That one was extremely frightening. At first, I thought it was my reflection in the mirror. Then I thought, There’s no mirror there. I saw this guy, just standing, wearing black pants and a white shirt, with his face in a leather harness with the number nine on leather tabs at every junction of the straps, and his mouth was open in a rictus. I could see his teeth, and his eyes were staring at me in this beseeching way. He left after a couple of seconds, but it was very vivid while it occurred.
Then a couple of years before that, I saw the Thompson Twins, Thomson and Thompson from Tintin. They were in black and white and were walking down the street with a full-color nine-foot streetwalker in fuchsia hot pants. That resolved into a woman and her two small children. Then the time before that, I was at the mall and my neighbor lady saw me and came up behind me and spoke my name, and when I turned around and looked at her, where her head should have been there was this eggshell of lint, which had the front pushed in, and there was a big gob of chewing gum or something sitting at the base of it. That was a frightening experience. I screamed when I saw that. That just scared the shit out of me.
The thing these all have in common is that they’re not at all vague, they’re very crisp, and I retain memories of them with extraordinary vividness. I’ve drawn all these things out. They’re very sharp, almost more sharp than real life, in the same way that when people meditate and they see the white light—it’s obviously not light, it’s not photons, it’s something else, more vivid than light. Because you’re not seeing with your eyes, you’re seeing with your mind when these things happen, they have sharpness and an intensity that regular visual things don’t.
That’s the juiciest part, but there’s stuff in there about the Surrealists, and horror as the sacred, and symmetry, and struggling with the presence of evil in a world that also contains wonderful things, and all manner of other stuff that hit me right in the gut. You must read this.
* Hey, it’s a new Emily Carroll comic! This contains one of her creepiest images yet.
* Too Much Coffee Man‘s Shannon Wheeler, of all people, nails the problem with Chester Brown’s Paying For It, as succinctly as anyone I’ve seen make the attempt. I think calling for a heavier editorial hand is a nonstarter, though, and for good reason. A heavier editorial hand would likely have preempted Chester Brown’s entire career.
* Paging Frank Santoro: Marcos Martin is really approaching page layout differently than anyone else in superhero comics, if this preview page from his and Mark Waid’s Daredevil #1 is any indication.
* I’m really not sure what Darryl Ayo’s comics call to arms is about — the problems, and the people, he’s addressing are described in terms too general to be useful. Mostly I find my enjoyment of comics increasing the less I worry about the state of comics, or more specifically the less I expose myself to the daily scrum of jawjaw about same. That said, he put together a gallery of lovely images to support the post, including these pieces by Al Columbia and Frank Quitely that I’d never seen before.
* Aeron Alfrey of Monster Brains has posted a couple of killer galleries lately. First up is the cosmic horror of Anatoly Fomenko, with its wondrous and oppressive sense of scale:
* And next is the scabrous, texture-heavy creature portraiture of Hasama (warning: the image below is fine, but the rest are not for anyone who’s squeamish about facial disfiguration):
* Aled Lewis’s “Video Games vs. Real Life” is similar to a Star Wars-based photography project that made the rounds a while back, but even though I was familiar with the basic idea at play, I still found this Donkey Kong image kind of unnerving. Looking through the foliage and seeing something looking back at you is the great cryptozoological dream/nightmare image.
* If you can’t trust them to straighten their belts, how can you trust them to save us all from Despero???
* I’m pretty excited to discover a Broadway revival of Godspell is in the works for this October. Stephen Schwartz, the show’s creator, is involved, so that leaves me optimistic that they won’t just slap a coat of Rent paint on the thing. It’s my favorite show.