Posts Tagged ‘horror’
William Cardini and I made a short horror comic called “The True Black” for Future Shock #4, edited by Josh Burggraf and featuring work by Jordan Speer, Michael Rae Grant & Gabriel Winslow-Yost, Victor Kerlow, Vincent Giard, Anuj Shrestha, Alex Degen, Kevin Czapiewski, Sean T. Collins & William Cardini, Max Bode, Zach Hazard Vaupen, Lale Westvind, Saman Bemel Benrud, and Josh Burg Graf. We hope you like it. Order it here.
I’ve been busy over at my dayjob blog.
Only a few yards away the surviving city of Popolac was recovering from its first convulsions. It stared, with a thousand eyes, at the ruins of its ritual enemy, now spread in a tangle of rope and bodies over the impacted ground, shattered forever. Popolac staggered back from the sight, its vast legs flattening the forest that bounded the stamping-ground, its arms flailing the air. But it kept its balance, even as a common insanity, woken by the horror at its feet, surged through its sinews and curdled its brain. The order went out: the body thrashed and twisted and turned from the grisly carpet of Podujevo, and fled into the hills.
As it headed into oblivion, its towering form passed between the car and the sun, throwing its cold shadow over the bloody road. Mick saw nothing through his tears, and Judd, his eyes narrowed against the sight he feared seeing around the next bend, only dimly registered that something had blotted the light for a minute. A cloud, perhaps. A flock of birds.
Had he looked up at that moment, just stolen a glance out towards the north-east, he would have seen Popolac’s head, the vast, swarming head of a maddened city, disappearing below his line of vision, as it marched into the hills. He would have known that this territory was beyond his comprehension; and that there was no healing to be done in this corner of Hell. But he didn’t see the city, and he and Mick’s last turning-point had passed. From now on, like Popolac and its dead twin, they were lost to sanity, and to all hope of life.
I wrote about Psychic TV and William S. Burroughs’s “Pirate Tape” over at Cool Practice. Lots of adolescent anecdotes in this one.
I’m excited to announce that I’ve made my debut at Wired, writing about recent developments in Grant Morrison & Chris Burnham’s Batman Incorporated #8. I tried to place the event in the context of Morrison’s run, and Morrison’s run in the context of the other things going on both with him and with Batman and DC Comics in recent years. Thanks to Laura Hudson for the opportunity.
* Tom Spurgeon’s complete holiday interview series is up at the Comics Reporter. Go ye and click; so far I’ve really enjoyed the interviews with writer Mark Waid, cartoonists Dean Haspiel, Derf Backderf, Sammy Harkham, and Tom Kaczynski, and critics J. Caleb Mozzocco and Rob Clough.
* You should absolutely read “Sticky-Icky-Icky,” a stoner-sex-slice-of-life comic by Box Brown. I said “whoa” when I saw this page in particular.
* Ooh, it’s a master list of the tumblrs for all the members of Closed Caption Comics who have tumblrs. Thanks, Ryan Cecil Smith!
* Always glad to see smut from Julia Gfrörer.
* This painting by Charles-Frédéric Soehnée is a nightmare. (Via Monster Brains.)
* Just for fun, Dresden Kodak creator is doing a whole series of drawings and sketches and posts on J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Silmarillion. Many of them are idiosyncratic and beautiful.
* The addendum at the end hurts a bit because Coates in scold mode is the worst Coates, but otherwise this is a nice scales-from-the-eyes piece by Ta-Nehisi Coates about Kendrick Lamar’s excellent album Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City.
* Here are all of Chris “Shallow Rewards” Ott’s posts on the Cure from his stint on the themed music blog One Week, One Band last year. If you want to read a good writer write a whole lot about a good band he happens to love, then this is
* John Brennan belongs in prison, not running the CIA. If you did half the shit this guy says it’s okay for the government to do, you bet your ass you’d be in prison.
* Very sad news: Wilko Johnson, guitarist for Dr. Feelgood and Ser Ilyn Payne on Game of Thrones, is dying of pancreatic cancer. Man that guy played with style.
* Scientists have filmed a live giant squid in its natural habitat. I can die now.
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.
* It’s the most wonderful time of the year: Tom Spurgeon has begun his annual series of lengthy holiday interviews with comics luminaries, with Alison Bechdel kicking things off. I’ll probably get less enjoyment out of these this year than previously because I just haven’t read as many comics this year as I used to do, but I’m telling you, curling up with my in-laws’ dogs and sinking into the couch with the Comics Reporter Holiday Interview series on my laptop is one of life’s great pleasures.
* Liv Siddall’s essay on Chris Ware and Tavi Gevinson’s interview with Ware himself, both for Rookie, are both very good, but more importantly they both come with the most life-affirming comments sections you’ve ever seen on anything involving comics. Just a slew of kids saying “Wow, this sounds great, I’ve gotta check it out, thanks.” Gevinson uses her power to rep hard for the High Alt comics makers, and she does it well, and I’m glad.
* You can look at this lengthy post by Grant Morrison on the history of his feud with Alan Moore and think “good for him, sticking up for himself” or “yikes for him, living in this headspace.” A bad thing to do would be to troll the detractors or supporters of the writer of your choice with it — even at their crankiest and crank-iest, these guys have earned better than that.
* Big comics interviews I’m saving for later: Tim Hodler talks to Tom Kaczynski, Alex Dueben talks to Charles Burns, Tim Hodler and Dan Nadel and Frank Santoro talk to Jaime Hernandez and Gilbert Hernandez.
* Speaking of Frank the Tank, he’s an Eisner judge this year, so I think it’s safe to say the days of Jaime shutouts are over.
* Christopher Tolkien’s disgust for Lord of the Rings licensed products, including the movies, is a depressing fact of life for those of us who’ve enjoyed both his father’s life work (which also became his own) and the work derived from it.
* The television critic Alan Sepinwall recently self-published a book called The Revolution Was Televised, outlining the New Golden Age of TV Drama with a chapter apiece on twelve landmark shows: Oz, The Sopranos, Deadwood, The Wire, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 24, Battlestar Galactica, Lost, The Shield, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and Friday Night Lights. I’ve been reading Sepinwall on and off for years and years now — he more or less invented weekly reviewing and he’s a central figure in the TV-critic back-and-forth I follow on twitter and in the field’s seemingly countless podcasts and such — so there’s something of a local-boy-makes-good element to the book getting a rave review from Michiko Kakutani in the New York Times before she put it on her top 10 list for the year. Anyway, here Sepinwall talks about the books to one of my favorite TV critics, Willa Paskin.
* Lots and lots of people wrote lots and lots of words attacking or defending Homeland season two, but my podcasting pal Stefan Sasse bucked the trend and took some shots at Homeland season one instead.
* I quite liked Jessica Hopper’s interview with Grimes, who made one of the year’s best records and who emerges here as a forcefully thoughtful presence.
* The oral history trend has clearly reached its baroque period, where instead of culture-defining/altering movements or mega-masterpieces, they’re now about the “Blackwater” episode of Game of Thrones or Interpol’s first album. That’s a wonderful use of the form if you ask me.
* How embarrassing was Richard Cohen’s column decrying the physical fitness of Daniel Craig’s James Bond as some sort of affront to the masculinity of book-readin’ types like Richard Cohen? I’ve had a coworker walk in on me while I was using the restroom in the altogether and I still found this thing more mortifying.
* If you were wondering when the next time Michael DeForge would level up was gonna be, you’ve got your answer: “First Year Healthy.”
* Jonny Negron has — ha, like I even need to say anything at this point. Like I don’t put Jonny Negron art in every linkblogging post I do. It occurs to me that what Jonny does is invest “cool” imagery with the sense of mysterious and sinister don’t-try-this-at-home-kids intimidation it held for me as a kid. As alluring as these people are I’d be afraid to walk into a room where they were hanging out. For what it’s worth I think his last couple months of work are much more strongly erotic than anything he’s done in a while, but that could just be me. And look at the skintone on this one! LOOK AT IT
* Big new Gilbert Hernandez books coming in the new year: Julio’s Day! Marble Season! A now-completed collection of work he serialized during Love & Rockets‘ second volume and a pseudoautobiography, these could send him in the direction of critical and audience reappraisal that the outré sex and violence of his recent comics have denied him.
* I’m super-excited to purchase Magical Neon Sexuality by Kevin Fanning, though I’m waiting until I’m flush with Christmas cash. Fanning is the genius, the literal genius, behind The Cold Inclusive, which is sort of like magic realism only it’s sex with celebrities instead of angel wings and shit and which is one of my favorite things I ever saw on the Internet. I gather this book is in that vein. I realized today that Fanning’s stories are a big unconscious influence on me in that Drake comic I did with Andrew White and two or three other things I’m working on now.
* Kevin Mutch has begun serializing a slightly recolored version of his Xeric-winning graphic novel Fantastic Life online. I liked that book a lot — it’s kind of like a lo-fi X’d Out.
* Eleanor Davis made a comic about her friends skinning a fox and it’s brutal and beautiful. Go through the last month or so of her blog, because Davis is on fire right now the way, say, Gabrielle Bell was two summers ago.
* Sally Madden’s book about working at Philadelphia’s gross, awesome medical-oddity showcase the Mutter Museum, Gray Is Not a Color, has maybe the best cover of the year. Herb Alpert’s throne of skulls grows taller by the day, I’m told.
* New Cindy & Biscuit by my man Dan White! Some publisher with a solid and adventurous kids’ comics program should snap this up, for real.
* This comic by Benjamin’s fellow Collective Stench member Tom Toye seems to vibrate off the page.
* If you didn’t like the liberties Peter Jackson took with The Hobbit, then man oh man are you going to have complaints about Josh Simmons’s commissioned portrait of the Witch-King of the Nazgul.
* Guy Davis fanart for Johnny Ryan’s Prison Pit? Sure, I’ll eat it.
* Zak Smith asks and answers the question: “Why is this picture so good?” (It’s by Adrian Smith.)
* Uno Moralez’s first image/gif gallery in a long time is also the scariest one in a much longer time.
* I don’t know of any rationale for keeping a nonviolent offender who’s not a risk to himself or others in literally torturous solitary confinement like the Obama administration did to the Army’s Wikileaks whistleblower Pfc. Bradley Manning, I just don’t. Who does?
* This Glenn Greenwald piece on the horror of Newtown as reflected in the drone and bombing deaths of Pakistani and Yemeni children at American hands (or Palestinians at Israeli hands, and let me warn you the photo that leads that link is enormously upsetting) is literally the most important thing to think about in the world right now. It is so vital for us to see that all lives are of equal value, and to understand that the mass death of children caused by the American military/intelligence apparatus abroad is just as devastating and horrifying to their loved ones, and to the conscience of the universe, as the mass death of children caused by maniacs here at home. Once you make this connection you can never unmake it, which is why it’s so important to make it. This has in one way or another been the topic of almost everything I’ve written this year. It’s never far from my mind, ever.
* Fittingly finally, David Chase explains the end of The Sopranos. None of the above?
* The Bunk is in this movie. Yes, from The Wire. He has a scene as a P.I. and fixer for the vampire who used to be a Confederate soldier.
* The guy who played the “bing bang bong” annoying catchphrase incompetent teenage forensic examiner who turned into a serial killer and ruined the show on SVU is in this movie. He plays Dracula, who is gay and an albino.
* Lee Pace from Tumblr and Mirkwood is in this movie. He plays a vampire who fought in the American Revolution (on the American side, this time). He is scruffy and edgy. Many of the vampires have special powers; when my wife asked me what his was supposed to be I said “Sexiness.”
* Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson are in this movie, as contractually required. They could not look or sound more miserable about it. Whatever the truth about their offscreen romantic relationship, they so clearly do not enjoy making these movies anymore, and it’s not like their joy radiated from the screen to begin with. The result is an almost magnetic anti-chemistry anytime they’re required to act sexy or romantic toward one another. Here are two very attractive people (well, I’ll take your word for it on RPatz, whose at this point I can’t see without seeing a million parodies of how he looks, but KStew is a Top 10 Pleasant to Look At Human Beings Worldwide entrant) who we know have fucked in real life, but you put them together and each of them looks like they’ve been forced into close proximity with a person whose 24-hour stomach virus they’re trying to avoid catching.
* That said, their sex scene was marvelously shot and surprisingly hot for a PG-13 flick geared toward tweens and their parents. Obviously they can’t show any nudity or have too much grunting and panting and moaning and gasping (that’s what On the Road is for), so what they did is stitch the scene together from all but abstracted close-ups of hands and mouths making contact with bare skin. It didn’t quite overcome the follow-up pillow-talk scene where they unconvincingly talk about how they plan to be so disgustingly sexual with one another at all times that the rest of their vampire family will have to stay away from them for a decade, but in the moment it worked.
* By contrast, the third wheel in the triangle, or whatever, Taylor Lautner, seemed happy to be there as always. I’m not sure I would, if my part required me to be a werewolf who falls in love with a baby, which is what happens. So yeah, if you’re going to hold abysmal stupidity against a film, then yes, Breaking Dawn – Part 2 is a bad movie in that there are almost no words to describe how idiotic and repulsive and braindead it is to have a werewolf fall in love with a baby. But blame the truly demented sexual politics of Stephenie Meyer, not Lautner, who sorta sells it as yet another weird thing about his biology he has to come to terms with and explain to others on top of the whole “turning into a giant wolf sometimes” bit. It doesn’t work, but he tries.
* He also makes the most out of his character’s admirably direct method of convincing Kristen Stewart’s character Bella’s dad that the supernatural exists: telling him he’s about to show him something weird, then stripping down to his underpants and transforming into a giant wolf in the guy’s backyard. The scene’s meant to read like an over-the-top spoof of coming out and propositioning a guy, doubly so because the guy has a Village People cop mustache and Lautner pings one’s gaydar like that one scene in Aliens where all of a sudden they’re in the crawlspace above the ceiling. I’ll be honest: If I were the dad and suddenly Lautner’s ridiculous physique were all up in my face, I’d consider it.
* Michael Sheen plays the main evil vampire. Michael Sheen is a hero, a legend. It’s as though all the fun the series’ leads should have been having got stored up, poured into a syringe, and injected into his aorta. He chews scenery until chunks of it spray from his mouth like the Cookie Monster. At one point he laughs like Truman Capote doing an impression of Woody Woodpecker. He kills a major character, holds up his severed head, and smiles in the most “U MAD?” gif-able way imaginable. He makes the movie, even the series. I want him to take tea with Tom Hardy’s Bane.
* I’m not going to spoil it, but the twist ending is so fucking shameless in how it forces the audience to discount pivotal and even devastating information it had recently received that it races right past “cheating” and “cop-out” and blasts off into “I’ve really gotta fucking hand it to you, Breaking Dawn – Part 2” territory. Audacious doesn’t even begin to describe it. I’d heard about it before hand, because with this series who cares about spoilers, and assumed I’d hate the whole film because of it, but it’s so crazy that I sat there like Bobby Baccala gazing at Junior Soprano: “I’m in awe of you.”
* Hearing an audience of low-level Twihards (we saw it the day after Thanksgiving) react with total shock and dismay to the run-up to the ending was wondrous and life-affirming, and I don’t mean that in terms of schadenfreude at all. This film moved and stunned and horrified them when they didn’t expect it. That’s a great thing to be able to do, and to see happen from the outside.
* The aftermath of the twist couldn’t be more open about its real goal if the studio head wandered out on camera holding up a sign reading “STEPHENIE, PLEASE WRITE SOME SEQUELS.”
* The opening credits, lovely lovely time-lapse macro photography of roses and blood and ice crystals and so on, were better than the comparable, much-lauded Skyfall opening credits. They segued nicely into a strong depiction of what vampires’ enhanced senses feel like, too — in other words they smartly saved the need to literally represent or tie into the story until after they were over.
* No Anna Kendrick.
* That Mike guy’s been funny too, but he’s not in it either.
* The closing credits show all the main characters from all five movies. They show the redheaded vampire that they recast with Bryce Dallas Howard twice, once for each actress.
* There’s a scene in which two of the other prominent werewolves are gathered at a little Christmas party at Bella’s dad’s house, and instead of re-hiring the actors who played them previously, the film just took extras and sat them with their backs to us and gave them no lines but had the other characters speak to them.
* In order to keep Bella and Edward’s rapidly aging vampire-human hybrid child consistent with the child actress who plays her at her oldest, the baby/toddler/young child versions have superimposed CGI faces. Again, if you’re going to hold abysmal stupidity against a film, I can hardly stop you here.
* There are multiple vampires from the Amazon basin who show up in the snowy Pacific northwest in their loincloths and stay that way for the duration. There’s a little trio of vampires from Ireland who look like they came from a Hallmark Channel movie about Ireland. The vampire ladies from Egypt are very pretty. Dakota Fanning is very pretty.
* The big battle happens because the good vampires know the bad vampires, who’ve mistaken their vampire-human hybrid daughter for a child they’ve illegally turned into a vampire, wouldn’t listen if they tried to explain the truth. Based on that assumption, the bulk of the movie happens: gathering allies, training to use their powers, the final confrontation itself. Guess what the bad vampires do the moment they show up and the good vampires try to explain the truth? Here’s a hint: They listen. Oh, shoot, that was the answer.
* There’s a genuinely horrifying flashback sequence in which a blood-covered vampire child is snatched from the body-strewn ruins of the medieval town he just destroyed, his sobbing vampire mother is killed in front of him, her body is lit on fire, and he’s unceremoniously tossed into the flames. He’s like five years old. It’s like Tyler Durden spliced in that one scene from Hostel Part 2 all of a sudden.
* Here’s what I thought of Twilight and New Moon and Eclipse; I didn’t write about Breaking Dawn – Part 1 because it was one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen, all but unwatchable even with help from RiffTrax. In that movie a superstrong vampire fetus pulverizes Bella’s spine and guttyworks from within, so Edward has to perform an emergency c-section by tearing through her superstrong placenta with his teeth. There’s also a getting-ready-for-sex montage that shows Bella brushing her teeth, and a “no sex please we’re cross-species lovers” montage in which they sit around wasting time and being bored in different ways. Abysmal stupidity opponents, you know the drill.
* This movie, though? The series’ one true camp classic, the one where you could watch it independent of a packed theater and actually have fun with the good-badness of it. We left the theater amazed to be glad to have seen it.
* It’s wonderful that we’ve had going on two solid weeks of non-stop Chris Ware Building Stories talk on the comics internet, though it’s also sad that I haven’t participated in any of it because I haven’t had the time to read the book yet. (I know, I know, be the change you want to see in the comics internet, but it’s a lot easier in terms of time, energy, and attention to blow through a few chapters of an inconsequential Secret Avengers arc and suchlike in dribs and drabs over the course of a couple weeks than to sit down and work your way through a 14-chapter box set by your absolute favorite cartoonist.) Stuff I’ll certainly be checking in on once I’ve done my due diligence: The Comics Journal’s massive series of Building Stories essays; Joe McCulloch’s suggested reading order for the “book”‘s 14 individual volumes; Joe McCulloch, Chris Mautner, Tucker Stone, and Matt Seneca’s podcast about the book; and Douglas Wolk’s review for The New York Times.
* A judge just handed the family of Superman co-creator Joe Shuster a major defeat in their battle to reclaim the character’s copyrights from DC Comics and Warner Bros. It’s an ugly situation where a 1992 agreement made in large part for Shuster’s sister to receive an annual pension which in today’s dollars amounts to less than an assistant editor makes in exchange for her claims to a billion-dollar character that gave birth to an entire genre of fiction is now being used against her. Read the link above for the best explanation of what happened, then read Tom Spurgeon for impassioned analysis. As Tom always points out, DC/WB’s treatment of the Superman creators and their heirs is a choice, one they make anew every day, and one they could reverse whenever they wanted to. Individual people have decided they don’t want to.
* Ben Katchor’s satires of late capitalist society for Metropolis are merciless. Fun fact: He’s got a collection of these strips called Hand-Drying in America and Other Stories coming out in February 2013! That’s gonna be a beast.
* The AV Club talks to Los Bros Hernandez at length. I love hearing them talk about how they spurred one another to improve in the early Love and Rockets issues.
* Matt Fraction looks back on his fine tenure on Invincible Iron Man, which is just about to wrap up. That’s one of the best superhero runs of the past half-decade.
* I came up with the topic for Tom Spurgeon’s latest Five for Friday reader-participation feature: Name five female comics-makers and their best male characters.
* Mostly music critic Brandon Soderberg interviews the great horror comics creator Josh Simmons. No one goes as far out as he does.
* Mostly music critic Tom Ewing reviews Sean Howe’s Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, the other big recent comics-related book release I haven’t read yet.
* Haw, Benjamin Marra made a trashy funny-animal comic called Ripper & Friends! This oughta be a hoot.
* One of the best things about Matthew Perpetua’s BuzzFeed Music is that you get a lot more Matthew Perpetua music writing. Here he is on two wonderful albums of recent vintage, Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! and Bat for Lashes’ The Haunted Man. These both make for excellent late-October listens, if you’re interested in that sort of thing, though I’m more in an emotional place for the former, which features a 20-minute instrumental metal epic named after a Bosnian Serb war criminal, than the latter, the key lyrics of which include “Thank God I’m alive” and “Where you see a wall, I see a door.”
* Also on BuzzFeed Music: Jayson Greene’s harrowing essay about being ceaselessly bullied. As a newish parent this shit really gets to me now, more even than as a former bullying victim. I get to toss my daughter into this maw? Fucking terrific.
* Katherine St. Asaph digs deep into the rise and apparent fall of “Call Me Maybe” singer Carly Rae Jepsen, whose album Kiss is Kylie/Robyn-level delightful but not selling.
* I’m with Noz on the quasi-parody rap critic Big Ghostfase. The schtick is overwritten, more than a little condescending, and ultimately unrewarding.
* The best horror writing you’ll find this Halloween month comes from Matt Maxwell’s bite-sized posts on George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, which are all illustrated by absolutely gorgeous screenshots. Here’s one of them.
* Someone played The Shining from front to back and back to front simultaneously and claims the overlaps are meaningful. They’re meaningful only by coincidence, but they’re beautiful coincidences.
* Plenty of good writing on last weekend’s terrific Homeland episode out there, if you’re in the market for it: Willa Paskin, Alyssa Rosenberg, Matt Zoller Seitz (he and I are really in sync on this season), Alyssa Rosenberg again.
* Vulture’s Gwynne Watkins profiles Elio García and Linda Antonsson from Westeros.org. Those two mean the world to me and I just love this profile.
* Mark Bowden writes very well about how the military-intelligence apparatus tracks down and kills enemies of the state — this was true in his absurdly engrossing Killing Pablo, about the rise and fall of Pablo Escobar, and it’s true in this lengthy Vanity Fair excerpt/adaptation of his new book about the death of Osama Bin Laden. That said, if you believe the bubbemeise offered up here that Barack Obama wanted to capture Bin Laden and try him in court, but the Navy SEALs called an audible on the ground, established a “shoot all adult males on sight” protocol all on their own, and plugged a wounded and unarmed Bin Laden in the head where lay despite the entire national security team’s express wishes to the contrary, I’ve got a fucking bridge to sell you.
* The justification of America’s drone-strike policy offered by TIME columnist Joe Klein as discussed in this Glenn Greenwald post is so soul-deadeningly horrifying, so sick even by the degraded standards of America’s normal discourse on this issue, that I thought it bore special mention.
KLEIN: “I completely disagree with you… . It has been remarkably successful” —
SCARBOROUGH: “at killing people” —
KLEIN: “At decimating bad people, taking out a lot of bad people – and saving Americans lives as well, because our troops don’t have to do this … You don’t need pilots any more because you do it with a joystick in California.”
SCARBOROUGH: “This is offensive to me, though. Because you do it with a joystick in California – and it seems so antiseptic – it seems so clean – and yet you have 4-year-old girls being blown to bits because we have a policy that now says: “you know what? Instead of trying to go in and take the risk and get the terrorists out of hiding in a Karachi suburb, we’re just going to blow up everyone around them. This is what bothers me… . We don’t detain people any more: we kill them, and we kill everyone around them… . I hate to sound like a Code Pink guy here. I’m telling you this quote ‘collateral damage’ – it seems so clean with a joystick from California – this is going to cause the US problems in the future.”
KLEIN: “If it is misused, and there is a really major possibility of abuse if you have the wrong people running the government. But: the bottom line in the end is - whose 4-year-old get killed? What we’re doing is limiting the possibility that 4-year-olds here will get killed by indiscriminate acts of terror.”
Tribalism at its most repellent; a willful rejection of empathy for other human beings, even children, with cruelty so casual it’s astonishing to behold.
* Klein should be quite excited to learn of the Obama Administration’s “disposition matrix,” a codification and systematization of pervasive surveillance and extrajudicial killing, conducted in secret and intended to become a permanent fixture of the executive branch. The object of power is power. Won’t it be fun to vote for these people anyway, because this election is like choosing between cancer and a less aggressive form of cancer?
* In happier news, I still like Beyoncé.
* The 2012 Ignatz Award nominees have been announced. Insofar as Jaime Hernandez’s work in Love and Rockets: New Stories #4 is recognized adequately, or even at all, this cements the Ignatz as the United States’ best comics awards slate. Psyched to see SuperMutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki get a nod, too.
* Major comics creators’-rights lawsuit news: Tony Moore is seeking co-authorship of The Walking Dead in federal court, referring to his former collaborator Robert Kirkman as “a proud liar and fraudster who freely admits that he has no qualms about misrepresenting material facts in order to consummate business transactions”; and the federal judge providing over the Shuster/DC Superman lawsuit has canceled a coming hearing in order to proceed directly to ruling on the case without first hearing oral arguments.
* Portland-area residents in particular may wish to contribute to the Kickstarter for The Projects, a new model for a comic con based around actually making and displaying work at the show rather than just selling it.
* Obviously I’ve been waist deep in Breaking Bad for weeks now; the better pieces I’ve seen on it include Alyssa Rosenberg’s review of this past week’s episode and essay on the issue of Skyler White, emotional abuse, and culpability, and Maureen Ryan’s hour-long podcast interview with Vince Gilligan, who as always seems like just about the nicest, most unassuming, most candid a showrunner can get.
* This news has been out and about for a while in various forms, but it’s official: Secret Acres will be debuting The Understanding Monster Book One by Theo Ellsworth at this year’s must-attend SPX.
* But did we know that Aidan Koch’s The Blonde Woman would be collected and released in September 2012, or is that new news?
* Alright, a new Cindy & Biscuit strip by my collaborator Dan White!
* One of my favorite music writers on one of my favorite bands: Tom Ewing reviews the Roxy Music Complete Studio Recordings box set. I think it’s just about dead on in every particular: the choice to emphasize and celebrate Ferry right up front, holding up Avalon as at least the equal of even the best of the first five records, rightly locating Manifesto and especially Flesh + Blood as first drafts for the subsequent masterpiece, and especially calling attention to the tracks where the full band “reach full steam.” Seriously, Roxy could really tear the shit out of a song when that was what they were going for — for pure power, on tracks like “Editions of You” or “Mother of Pearl” or “Out of the Blue” or the almighty “Virginia Plain” they could go toe to toe with just about anyone.
* Sheesh — this Mark Richardson piece on being terrified out of his wits as a kid by The Elephant Man proves, if there was any doubt, that Mark Richardson is really good at writing about David Lynch. He should seriously consider going full monomania about it.
* Zach Baron’s Grantland piece on Matt Damon’s Bourne trilogy and its Jeremy Renner-starring follow-up The Bourne Legacy is thoroughly fine; this passage is particularly fine.
In The Bourne Identity, director Doug Liman drew on his dad’s experience prosecuting Oliver North in the wake of Iran-Contra to make a film, only one year after 9/11, that is still one of the best and most thoughtful visions of Americans abroad in this century — Damon’s Bourne was a man in a foreign country with a gun in his hand and no idea how it got there. The Robert Ludlum source novels, Gilroy once said, “were about running to airports.” But Liman, with Gilroy’s help, made a movie about lost identity: an action film in which killing is the symptom of the problem, rather than the solution to it.
It’s also worth noting his take on Renner’s performances in Dahmer, The Hurt Locker, and The Avengers, even if you disagree with it. (For what it’s worth, my review of the Matt Damon Bourne movies and the Daniel Craig Bond movies is one of my favorite bits of film writing I ever did.)
* Tom Spurgeon had a big 50th birthday blowout for Stan Lee & Steve Ditko’s Spider-Man the other day; highlights include Spurgeon’s 16-point meditation on Amazing Spider-Man #1-150 and Kiel Phegley on Spider-Man’s cultural ubiquity.
* Captain America by Rick Remender, John Romita Jr., Klaus Janson, and Dean White: a character I like written by a writer I like, pencilled by a penciller I like, inked by an inker I like, and colored by a colorist I like, but man is the plot a departure from the Ed Brubaker material that made the Joe Simon/Jack Kirby character work as well as, if not better than, he’s ever worked before.
* Kali Ciesemier’s take on Josie Packard for the Damn Fine Coffee Twin Peaks zine is reliably beautiful.
* Why not take a look at a Ross Campbell drawing of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fighting some Mousers?
* Lingerie Witches: some dumb fun smut from Simon Hanselmann.
* I’m glad the video for A$AP Rocky’s “Purple Kisses” came out on the same day I put up that picture of Jonny Negron’s new book.
* Finally, we’ve gotten some terrific Destructor fanart from Aviv Iscovitz and Jordan Shiveley. We’re always up for more.
Carnival of souls: The greatest comics photo of all time, Pope Hats, Tippi Hedren, Best American Comics, underground comics in 2012, David Lynch, Wreckhall Abbey, moreWednesday, August 8th, 2012
* Behold: the greatest photo in the history of comics. Top row, from left: Gary Panter, Aline Kominsky-Crumb, Phoebe Gloeckner, Ivan Brunetti, Seth, Danniel Clowes, Alison Bechdel, Gary Lieb, Justin Green, Chris Ware, Robert Crumb, Ben Katchor. Bottom row, from left: Joe Sacco, Françoise Mouly, Art Spiegelman, Hillary Chute, Lynda Barry, Carol Tyler, Charles Burns. Photographer: Jason Smith.
* Pope Hats #3 by Ethan Rilly, coming soon from AdHouse! That book will burn up the alt-comics festival circuit this fall, that’s for sure. The first two were lovely, and good reads.
* I’m not sure why this hasn’t been a bigger deal — I was pretty sure this was one of Hollywood’s great mysteries for decades now — but Tippi Hedren says Alfred Hitchcock tried to blackmail her into sex and smothered her career when she refused him
* Matt Madden, Jessica Able, and Françoise Mouly have released the table of contents for this year’s Best American Comics. Some strong work in there, including excerpts Joyce Farmer’s Special Exits, Anders Nilsen’s Big Questions, Sammy Harkham’s Crickets, and Jaime Hernandez’s “The Love Bunglers.” That last inclusion gives me another opportunity for an smh moment regarding the lack of major comics awards consideration given that work, a failure of judgment that borders on scandal. Oh well, looking forward to the Ignatz sweep.
* Here’s a short but impressive list of like-minded alt/art/underground comics anthologies currently operating, as recommended by Leah Wishnia, editor of the likeminded Happiness Comix effort. One thing that the contretemps over Dan Nadel’s anti-SP7 editorial brought to light for me is — well, it’s actually two things. The first is that the community of (mostly) young cartoonists making resolutely uncommercial comments is growing much faster than I can keep up with. To be honest I’d long flattered myself with the idea that I was keeping nearly all this stuff on my radar, but there’s so much I’m missing, so much I don’t even know I’m missing. I doubt that as a critic I’m on their radar, either, although who knows. The second thing spins out of that last sentence: I don’t think any critics are working this beat with any regularity. Maybe Rob Clough, since he reviews everything? Maybe someone I don’t know I’m missing either? But as best I can tell, aside from certain breakout talents I don’t think this cohort has critical champions or interlocutors. Which could explain some of the anger directed at Dan when he said he had no idea what “underground comics” means in 2012, ’cause these folks do, I’d guess. Anyway, I think that if a generation of cartoonists comes of age without criticism, that will have an effect on both cartooning and criticism.
* “Where You Are King” is an impressively icky comic by Ian Sundahl for Study Group. The lettering is tremendous.
* Domitille Collardey’s new webcomic Wreckhall Abbey is indeed very new, but it’s the kind of comic that makes you nod your head and go “yep, there it is” — the moment a cartoonist finds the project her interests and talents were tailor-made to create. It appears to be a boarding-school strip in the vein of Jillian Tamaki’s excellent Supermutant Magic Academy; I think the internet’s plenty big enough for both. The layout seems super-considered and labor-intensive, too. Well done.
* I liked this Mark Richardson piece on associating the work of David Lynch with his own real-life brushes with fear and violence. This is an underdiscussed characteristic of Lynch’s work, his ability to accurately convey the sensation of proximity to violence that renders you powerless, and the terror of that. It’s usually overlooked in favor of the stuff to which the adjective Lynchian is more often applied — narrative ruptures, surreal horror, little people doing weird things and so on — but it’s absolutely a core element of his work, and one I’ve seen enough people bring up when discussing trauma from their own lives to know I’m not alone in detecting. You’d be hard pressed to find a better depiction of the impact of losing a classmate than the pilot episode of Twin Peaks, for example, or a better depiction of the psychic toll of sexual violence than Fire Walk with Me. Lynch’s “supervillain” characters, for lack of a better term, get the attention, but they really exist so that we can personalize the trauma in a way large and frightening enough to be commensurate with the size and impact of that trauma.
* Oh look, it’s Jessica Paré/Megan Draper from Mad Men singing “Just Like Honey” and “Sometimes Always” with the Jesus and Mary Chain, because I’m now Franklin Richards and can bend reality to my will, apparently.
What do you think of this, ’90s high-school drama-club goth Christina Hendricks?
* Drop what you’re doing and download Matthew Perpetua’s 8-disc Fluxblog 2008 Survey Mix. Ooftah, the first half of disc 2.
* Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit is now a trilogy. Whoever tells me this and expects me to complain, he understands nothing about Sean, nothing.
* The Secret Acres hivemind weighs on in the Comics Journal/Kickstarter/SP7 fight in high Secret Acres thinkpost style, while Dan Nadel clarifies a couple of his points from the middle of what’s either the best-timed or worst-timed internet hiatus in comics history.
* Another day, another enormously dispiriting interview with Grant Morrison about (among other things) the legal issues surrounding Superman and Watchmen. This one sees Morrison go full Barkley, saying “I’m not a role model” while not-so-subtly mocking Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons for the shitty contract they signed in “hey, I got mine” fashion, in addition to positioning his own refusal to stick up for Siegel & Shuster in any way besides celebrating their artistic accomplishments as a noble refusal to treat them like victims. Yeah, it’s a bummer alright, especially coming from a guy who argues that superheroes are contemporary mankind’s greatest and most inspiring artistic exemplars. Given that his goal is for all that to rub off on the culture to which he exposes them, it’s weird that he finds it so baffling his readers would expect some of that to have rubbed off on him as well.
* A pair of fine reviews of very important collections are up at The Comics Journal: Nicole Rudick on Gloriana by Kevin Huizenga and Brandon Soderberg on The Furry Trap by Josh Simmons. “The Sunset” in the former and “Cockbone” in the latter would make a list of my top favorite short comics of all time; “The Sunset” would top it in fact.
* I’m kind of the opposite of Tom Spurgeon here: I knew Fantagraphics would be collecting the Ignatz series New Tales of Old Palomar by Gilbert Hernandez, but apparently I never said so on this blog, if my search function is to be believed.
* I’ve really been enjoying Dorothy Berry’s posts on Ernie Bushmiller’s Nancy for Comics Workbook, like this one about how rare Nancy is as a fictional female child who is neither a tomboy nor a girly-girl. My daughter is young enough to still be in that limbo state where she dresses more or less like a girl because we buy girl’s clothes for her but her behavior is essentially genderless, and I can tell you that in flipping through the Nancy Is Happy collection, I see a lot of that kid in her.
* The Mindless Ones’ Bobsy gives the business to Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, a comic I did not like at all.
* Gabrielle Bell has wrapped up her July Diary series for the year. If it wasn’t quite the revelation that last year’s effort was, it still contained a freaking zombie comic, and a two-panel autobiography that just slays me.
* The Burning Brothel, a Raymond Pettibon tumblr, is a delightful resource for an increasingly influential-on-comics artist.
* Well, Arsene Schrauwen #1 by Olivier Schrauwen sure looks good.
* I think every artist should be required by law to do a series of Batman character portraits, and I will be introducing this legislation as the Bill Finger Bill. Jordan Crane caught Michael DeForge’s stab at it, which I’d never seen before and which is awesome. Who’s the smiley guy next to the Joker, though?
* I always enjoy it when Frank Santoro works a little blue.
* Jordan Crane’s been posting processy glimpses of an upcoming contribution to the next issue of the Fort Thunder-centric Monster anthology (! did we know this was on the way?) to his tumblr, and I know this’ll come as a huge surprise but it looks gorgeous.
* Jeez, C.F. makes a lot of comics.
* Real Life Horror: This is what policework in America looks like now.
I see no evidence that “rich people are very, very afraid” — at least not by their actions. And that, to me, is the problem. That fear — a lot more of it — is necessary. Their ability to rope themselves off from the society they are degrading, combined with the para-militarization of domestic police forces (aggressively displayed in response to the Occupy movement and related protests), and the rapidly increasing domestic powers of surveillance and detention (designed to intimidate the citizenry and thus deter and guard against mass protests), have convinced them, I think, that they need not fear any protest movements or social unrest, that America can and will become more and more of a police state to suppress it. An elite class that is free to operate without limits — whether limits imposed by the rule of law or fear of the responses from those harmed by their behavior — is an elite class that will plunder, degrade, and cheat at will, and act endlessly to fortify its own power.
*Attention A Song of Ice and Fire fans who’ve read all five books: This EXTREMELY SPOILERY George R.R. Martin interview is unusually informative on various obscure but fervently debated plot points.
* I am allergic to watching anything Olympics, but I understand the opening ceremony, directed by Danny Boyle and music-directed by Underworld, was quite something — basically a tribute to socialized health care, rock and roll, and children’s literature. Most of the people I know from the U.K. feel about the place the way I feel about the U.S., but those people should take comfort in knowing that it’s unimaginable, unimaginable for America to conceive of itself in terms that humanistic. Anyway the soundtrack, Isles of Wonder, is out, and though most of the big famous songs I understand were in the production don’t show up here, there’s still a whole lot of terrific Underworld music, so I’m happy.
* People drawing an equivalence between DC’s use of Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons’s Watchmen characters in Before Watchmen and Alan Moore & Kevin O’Neill’s pastiche of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter characters in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen would have a point if and only if Moore released this issue as “BEFORE HARRY POTTER,” starring all the actual Harry Potter characters rather than parody versions of them, using the Harry Potter trade dress, through Harry Potter’s publisher, exploiting a loophole in a contract he arranged with Rowling, over Rowling’s explicit and unequivocal objections, following a two-decade string of mistreatment and broken promises.
* I had no idea that Matt Groening was still doing Life in Hell. That should have been a bigger deal, right? Anyway, that link takes you to Tom Spurgeon talking about the strip upon the announcement that it’s ending.
* Also, Tom Spurgeon reviews Ed the Happy Clown by Chester Brown. The more I see that cover, the funnier and better it gets.
* And in his continuing series on ’80s serialized comics, Spurge reviews Frank Miller’s Daredevil (starring the Stan Lee/Bill Everett creation) and Frank Miller & Bill Sienkiewicz’s Elektra: Assassin. The Elektra piece in particular is a bracing bit of what-could-have-been on everything from politics to Marvel Comics’ collected editions program.
* Hey look, it’s my Thickness editors, born-again-hard Michael DeForge and wide-eyed ingenue Ryan Sands, at CAKE this past weekend. (Via CBR.) Related: an excellent photo parade from the Happiness crew, and one of Secret Acres’ trademark comprehensive/catty con reports.
* My friend Jason Dean, who designed thishyere blog, has started a webcomic based on his many years in retail. Should be a pip.
* Speaking of Mad Men, Matt Zoller Seitz, Deborah Lipp, and Kevin B. Lee of Press Play put together a fantastic, revealing, comprehensive video essay on death imagery in the fifth season. I guarantee you there’s stuff in there you missed.
* And I’m extraordinarily late to the party once again, but Molly Lambert’s Mad Men recaps for Grantland are spectacular, getting better as they go. You could skip the first couple if you wanted, probably, as they really are pretty much just recaps, but there’s something to be said for going through all of them and reaching that point where you’re like “whoa, where did this come from.”
* A new Uno Moralez comic! My five favorite words in the English language?
* I know nothing about the comics of Frederik Peeters but that’s one hell of a cover.
* The artist Frazer Irving has been doing one-hour warm-up sketches in the morning before working on comics projects. I’ve posted three of them below. This is what a one-hour warm-up sketch looks like for Frazer Irving.
* Jeepers creepers, the forthcoming collection of Pippi Longstocking comics by Astrid Lindgren and Ingrid Vang Nyman from Drawn and Quarterly looks beautiful and silly.
* The new Study Group webcomic Haunter by Sam Alden is quite something — alt-fantasy that looks like Brecht Evens colored it.
* Ha! The new book from Closed Caption Comics’ Conor Stechschulte, Lurking Nocturners, appears comprised in part of just the adjectives from H.P. Lovecraft stories.
* Real Life Horror: This short memoir essay by former American interrogator Eric Fair about living with the knowledge that he’s tortured people is…you know, it’s one of the most upsetting things I’ve ever read. Probably one of the most important, things, too.
* I can’t bear to leave you like that. Here are pictures of David Bowie and Beyoncé looking extremely attractive.
* A few Mad Men links to get you started today. Spoilers at the links but not in my linkings.
* I am far too late to the Mad Men Unbuttoned party — marvelous “footnotes” on era signifiers and other details from the show by Natasha Vargas-Cooper. This post in particular is worth, well, 2,000 words.
* On the other hand, I never miss a Mindless Ones Mad Men post, like this one on last week’s ep.
* Moving on, good news: Chuck Forsman heads to Fantagraphics for The End of the Fucking World and Celebrated Summer.
* Writing for The Comics Journal, Frank Santoro delivers this extraordinary characterization of his current (and ongoing) efforts to sell books from his comic collection:
Selling wacky back issues that no one else has is an art. This is what I am always working on. Sitting in a room drawing by my lonesome has destroyed my last few relationships and doesn’t pay nearly as good as hustling comics does. This is more fun. Assembling and disseminating these old comic back out into the comics reading world in an effort to sway opinion about these old forgotten things is my art these days.
My rehabilitation of these comics is no different than Dan [Nadel] doing same with Art Out of Time. We are building on years and years of work by other superfans, other scholars – and then packaging the books for a new audience. Except, unlike Dan, I like to champion the lowest of the low. The black and white explosion of the mid to late 80s is supposed to be the absolute worst moment in comics history. To most, this work is dead. But to me, it’s alive. Solid gold. Top of the charts.
So many unpackable ideas about creation versus curation versus editing here I hardly know where to begin!
* Speaking of Spurge, here’s another review of My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf for me to file away for after I’ve read the book.
* As an aside, all of your Hurt Locker/Avengers Jeremy Renner fans should seek out his turn as the title character in the film Dahmer. Don’t let the “scary” DVD box art fool you — it’s a thoughtful, harrowing, profoundly sad drama that covers, in part, the same time period Derf covers in his graphic novel, and Renner is fabulous in it.
* And another review of Alison Bechdel’s Are You My Mother? to file away for after I’ve read that book, this one by Chris Mautner.
* Speaking of filing away for later, Topless Robot’s Rob Bricken does one of his trademark FAQs for Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, about which I have heard virtually nothing good since it debuted this past weekend.
* Which made it kind of a funny time for Paramount to announce that it was going back for seven weeks of reshoots on its adaptation of Max Brooks’s fine mockumentary “oral history” of a zombie plague, World War Z, with new material written by Lindelof, who co-wrote Prometheus. He has to be a step up from previous screenwriter J. Michael Straczynski, though.
* I have a low threshold for “let’s make fun of a bunch of obviously-going-to-be-bad superhero comics” pieces, but J. Caleb Mozzocco’s piece on the latest New 52 titles from DC was just right.
* On his own blog, Mozzocco dredges up a book I’d forgotten I loved as a kid: America’s Very Own Monsters, on various cryptozoological/fortean creatures from the good ol’ U.S.A., written by Daniel Cohen and illustrated with beautiful hatching by Tom Huffman.
* Feast your nervous system on Lane Milburn’s Mors Ultima Ratio.
* The latest Vice strip from Johnny Ryan is my favorite thing of his in some time.
* Ditto the latest Metropolis strip from Ben Katchor. That final row of panels is murder.
* Ditto the latest Forming by Jesse Moynihan.
* Jeepers fucking creepers, look at these Walrus covers/posters by Kate Beaton, look at them
* The cover for Aidan Koch’s Q from Floating World manages to be both lovely and intimidating.
* In putting these two images next to one another, the latest image/gif gallery by Uno Moralez makes him my all-time hero.
* Matt Maxwell on ’80s action lighting in Paul Verhoeven’s RoboCop. Nothing will ever make it okay for Ray Wise to play anyone working in any kind of law-enforcement capacity.
* Did I not know They’re going to make two movies out of Stephen King’s It, or did I know and forget? You tell me.
* I’ve enjoyed Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Hero, the Disney XD cartoon based on the Marvel comic property of the same name as created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, since it debuted a year ago — it did more to sell me on the hodgepodge nature of the team and its grab-bag of villains than any other incarnation of the team, and I found the animation nice and fluid for a tv action cartoon, and the voice acting really terrific from top to bottom. The show also posited the team as an antidote to government-run black-ops shit rather than an embodiment of it — Tony Stark and Hank Pym founded the team in defiance of Nick Fury, not on his orders — which I think is a much healthier message to send to little kids, if you’re going to be exposing them to narratives of redemptive violence at all. Well, turns out the show’s been canceled in favor of a more directly movie-friendly version. That’s too bad.
* The co-creator of the DC/WB superhero Static Shock died young, penniless, and just shy of homeless. This isn’t some shmoe who got ripped off during the Roosevelt administration when the industry was more or less run by gangsters — this is a guy whose stuff was on the racks during the Image boom. Tells you a lot about comics. Tells you a lot about America.
* Nitsuh Abebe on Hot 97 vs. Nicki Minaj over “real hip-hop”; the last graf is where it’s at. That said, I think there’s an important distinction made between people attacking Nicki’s non-guest-verse work for being “not real hip-hop” (no one older than 14 should give a fuck) and those attacking it because much of it isn’t as good as her straightforward MCing is. People wanting another Ol’ Dirty Bastard/early Busta Rhymes lyrical lunatic more than they want another Katy Perry/late Britney Spears chart mercenary seems like a valid set of preferences to me, even though I like “Super Bass” a lot and enjoy “Starships” more than than most of the soundalike pop-house on the radio right now.
* In much happier Clive Barker news, Morgan Creek, the studio that holds the rights to a blu-ray release of Nightbreed, has given the greenlight to fundraising efforts for “The Cabal Cut” of the film, a two-hour forty-five-minute version in line with Barker’s original intentions.
* Finally, dig it: The great Shawn Cheng comes from nowhere with Destructor fanart. Where does he get those wonderful pelts?
* Phoebe Gloeckner is struggling with depression due to her decade-long immersion in a still-unfinished project about horrific crimes against women and girls in Juarez, Mexico. She says she feels alone. Phoebe is one of the best living cartoonists, creator of some of the best short stories and one of the best graphic novels of all time, and I’m as deeply connected to her work as I am to any comic. If you feel similarly and there’s any way you can make these feelings known to her, go ahead and do it.
* Well well well, what have we here? It’s Ticket Stub, a new Tim Hensley book coming soon from Yam Books.
* Gilbert Hernandez talks to CBR’s Shaun Manning about his forthcoming drug/zombie book from Dark Horse, Fatima: The Blood Spinners. Beto skeptics please note that he declined to make this a Fritz book because huge boobs would look silly on a super-athletic zombie killer. (Fritz makes a cameo, though, apparently.)
* Against “Was that really necessary” as a criticism of art:
I think “is it necessary?” is the single most overrated rubric for evaluating quality in art. For starters, no art is “necessary,” that’s what makes it art. Moreover, this allows only for utilitarian plot-advancement and arc-based character growth. All the weirdness that really matters — the spectacle, the symbolism, the dead-ends and meanderings and tics, the funny and frightening and unclassifiable flourishes that make art luminous — is argued out of existence. The daisy-chain of voyeurism [in a recent Game of Thrones episode] wasn’t necessary, no, but it was vital in that it was bizarre and ridiculous and awesome.
—me, in the comments for my Rolling Stone piece on the 10 biggest differences between the show and the books. It’s not just disgruntled book-fans you see complaining in those words, either. I love excess, so I’m not a fan of this line of argument.
Some people have rules about sex in comic books or stories in general. It needs to serve the story and not just exist to titillate the reader. Do these people have sex at all?
Sex never “serves the story” in the way these people want. Hell, you could take the sex out if 9 Songs and the story would be there. It just wouldn’t be the story that anybody wants to watch.
Generally, people don’t look at war stories and complain that there’s a war in it. If someone does make that complaint, they get sent to the kids’ table.
—Darryl Ayo. He’s not talking about Game of Thrones, but he might as well be.
* Great music writing #1: Eric Harvey’s epic-length history of Quiet Storm, the ultrasmooth, bedroom/wallpaper-friendly R&B format that he likens to “ambient soul.” A week that produces this and Tom Spurgeon’s tribute to the comic-book creators of the Avengers is a pretty great goddamn week for long-form writing on the internet.
* Great music writing #2: It’s nothing so epic as the Quiet Storm piece, but Lindsay Zoladz’s review of Garbage’s new album is the kind of music criticism you’ll enjoy reading even when you haven’t heard the music in question. She’s just very straightforward and very clear and very entertaining and very insightful.
* The three My Bloody Valentine reissues are now out, and yet somehow remain a comedy of errors. Do I splurge for the CDs or will the remastering remain evident in the mp3 versions? Are there mp3 versions?
* Tucker Stone reviews Jean-Pierre Filiu & David B.’s nonfiction graphic novel (I know, I know) Best of Enemies: A History of U.S. and Middle East Relations. He describes it as feeling like not-comics in a way you’d think would be a dealbreaker, but which he argues totally isn’t. Very intriguing. David B., of course, like Gloeckner and Gilbert, is a top 10 cartoonist on the planet today.
* Matthew Perpetua interviews Arne Bellstorf about his admirably low-key Beatles-in-Hamburg graphic novel Baby’s in Black. Apparently Bellstorf wasn’t (isn’t?) even much of a Beatles fan.
* TCAF organizer Chris Butcher’s con report on the Toronto convention/festival’s latest go-round actually includes the methodology behind its attendance figures! This is kind of amazing if you’ve followed the comic-con circuit for any period of time, especially in contrast with an unfortunate tendency to release questionably high numbers in the wake of bad publicity. MoCCA, Wizard, take note.
* Speaking of, Noel Freibert’s TCAF photo parade is my favorite such post in a long long time. What a haul! What a karaoke outing!