Posts Tagged ‘real world’


September 11, 2013

As he followed her inside Mother Abagail’s house he thought it would be better, much better, if they did break down and spread. Postpone organization as long as possible. It was organization that always seemed to cause the problems. When the cells began to clump together and grow dark. You didn’t have to give the cops guns until the cops couldn’t remember the names…the faces…

Fran lit a kerosene lamp and it made a soft yellow glow. Peter looked up at them quietly, already sleepy. He had played hard. Fran slipped him into a nightshirt.

All any of us can buy is time, Stu thought. Peter’s lifetime, his children’s lifetimes, maybe the lifetimes of my great-grandchildren. Until the year 2100, maybe, surely no longer than that. Maybe not that long. Time enough for poor old Mother Earth to recycle herself a little. A season of rest.

“What?” she asked, and he realized he had murmured it aloud.

“A season of rest,” he repeated.

“What does that mean?”

“Everything,” he said, and took her hand.

Looking down at Peter he thought: Maybe if we tell him what happened, he’ll tell his own children. Warn them. Dear children, the toys are death–they’re flashburns and radiation sickness, and black, choking plague. These toys are dangerous; the devil in men’s brains guided the hands of God when they were made. Don’t play with these toys, dear children, please, not ever. Not ever again. Please…please learn the lesson. Let this empty world be your copybook.

“Frannie,” he said, and turned her around so he could look into her eyes.

“What, Stuart?”

“Do you think…do you think people ever learn anything?”

She opened her mouth to speak, hesitated, fell silent. The kerosene lamp flickered. Her eyes seemed very blue.

“I don’t know,” she said at last. She seemed unpleased with her answer; she struggled to say something more; to illuminate her first response; and could only say it again:

I don’t know.

—Stephen King, The Stand

The Carnival of Souls Christmas Spectacular

December 22, 2012

* 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.

* It’s the end of the year so it’s best-of time. BuzzFeed Music, Alyssa Rosenberg, Matt Zoller Seitz, and Jamieson Cox should get you started.

* 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.

* Has everyone noticed Andy Burkholder has revived q v i e t, his marvelous wordless expressionistic sex comic? And that he’s doing a new thing called entphs?

* 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.

* So too in his way is Mr. Freibert.

* 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.

* Not for kids: Patrick Hambrecht and Dame Darcy review Heather Benjamin’s Sad Sex for the Comics Journal.

* This comic by Benjamin’s fellow Collective Stench member Tom Toye seems to vibrate off the page.

* Jesus Christ, Renee French.

* Wow, Chris Day.

* 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?

“14 Dead, 50 wounded at Batman Screening in Colorado (developing)”

July 20, 2012

That’s the headline I saw right before I left my house to appear on live television to talk about The Dark Knight Rises this morning. As the segment concluded I said that Batman represents the fantasy that one man can have a meaningful effect on random violence of this sort, and that the presence of the character in our culture can be reassuring. I was amazed to hear this come out of my mouth, since I do not at all believe the line that superheroes are our way of telling ourselves how much better we can be. And yet I know what I said to be true. When I was in college, a friend of mine was murdered. I’m exaggerating even as I type: She and I were friendly, but what she really was was the estranged ex-best friend of my then-current best friend, so to the extent that I thought or talked much about her before the night she was stabbed to death by an unknown assailant who is still at large today, those thoughts and words were negative. This didn’t help make her murder any easier to take. I don’t know if it made it harder. I know it made it weirder. How do you process the meaninglessness of murder in the face of the petty personal gripes and grievances it renders even more meaningless? For reasons I couldn’t articulate then, one of the ways to process it was to read The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller and escape into the fantasy world of a man with a gaping wound for a psyche, who closes that wound by beating the world around it into the shape of the hole. After I read it I gave my treasured, dog-eared, beat-up copy — the one I was given as a gift in sixth grade by the one kid in my class who was already listening to PiL and getting blowjobs from eighth graders, the one he’d stolen from his older brother and been impressed with as he read it while taking a dump — to my friend, with an inscription I can’t remember other than that it positioned the book as a psychic pain reliever for what she was feeling. I still believe that to be true, as I believed it then; in neither case do or did I believe it because I think Batman is an inspiring example of hope to be emulated. The Batman fantasy is comforting because it is a fantasy. Reading about him or watching movies about him is a pleasant way of being reminded that the idea of a single man putting the world to rights is the stuff of movies and comic books, the stuff of make-believe. The real world has no Batman and never will. It will always be this way. Only when you let go of the hope that it can be something else can you come to terms with what it is rather than dashing your mind against the rocks of what it can never be.

Carnival of souls: Brian Chippendale, George R.R. Martin, psychopathic children, more

May 15, 2012

* Here’s everything George R.R. Martin is working on at the moment. Sounds like the fourth Tale of Dunk and Egg is finished.

* How far did you get in Jennifer Kahn’s New York Times Magazine piece on psychopathic children before you recoiled in horror? I hit the panic button at the cat thing, predictably. But in all seriousness, this is a very strong and very troubling article about something that I’ve wondered and worried about since I first started reading about serial killers years ago. Violent sociopathy is a real challenge to a liberal democratic society’s ideas of justice and liberty, and pop-psych serial-killer books tend to hammer that home hard. Kahn’s article adds some welcome, though no less challenging, ideas to the discussion, pointing out that a graduation to adult violent sociopathy is not guaranteed, and thus something likely can be done to save these kids and their future victims, just as people who’ve inherited heart disease can be prevented from dying from it. The problem is no one’s really sure what that something is. Lots more to ponder in this thing: Could you love a cruel child? Why is it so disturbing that the kid at the heart of the article doesn’t just lash out, that instead, he…waits?

* Roger Langridge quits working for Marvel and DC over creators’-rights concerns. I guess this is how it’ll work: people at the margins leaving, and publicly declaring why.

* The Mindless Ones come forth to tackle Mad Men‘s “Lady Lazarus.” A friend planted a far less optimistic appraisal of Peggy in my mind a while back than the one espoused by the Mindlesses, and I’m finding it tough to shake.

* Andrei Molotiu has had it up to here with your so-called “stories.” I like Andrei and I like many of the abstract comics he’s championed, but this post reminds me of that Sopranos episode where the local rock band guy complains about how the Beatles have boxed in his own genius.

* Oooh, a new I Just Figured It All Out from Tom Neely.

* Oooh, a new A Wrinkle in Time promo image from Hope Larson.

* Oooh, a new gif/image gallery from Uno Moralez.

* This is a gorgeous Karl Wills page. Funny, great physicality, love the blood spatter, love the big white thighs, love the erasure of the faces as the fight begins.

* Rob Bricken’s piece on the CW’s forthcoming Green Arrow show Arrow made me laugh. “People might accidentally recognize the name ‘Green Arrow’ — we all know how unpopular superheroes are nowadays!”

* Can you imagine listening to M83’s “Kim and Jessie” as a real-live emotional teenager?

* “You think you’re better than me?” is humankind’s worst emotion.

* Finally, there’s a panel in this Puke Force strip by Brian Chippendale that sums up America’s drone wars so perfectly and devastatingly I don’t even know what else to say. You’ll know the one when you click the link for the full comic.

Gareb Shamus out at Wizard

December 3, 2011

Carnival of souls: BCGF, spending 11 minutes inside Game of Thrones, more

December 6, 2010

* This weekend I attended the second annual Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival. It was the best comic con I’ve ever been to; on a pure comics level it was simply staggering, and of course that’s the level that matters. I wrote a full con report for Robot 6, so please do check it out.

* Last night HBO aired an 11-plus minute making-of/preview of Game of Thrones. I’ve embedded it twice below: The first video is the full 11:46 preview that ran on TV, while the second is a shorter version from HBO’s official YouTube account that runs about 10 minutes. Watch the longer one, provided it’s still up. What can I say? Everything looks rock-solid, and again, they seem to be emphasizing the stuff you’d want them to emphasize; Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, the actor who plays Jaime, nails the mega-plot of the whole series right to the wall, for instance. Also? The Hound. (Via Winter Is Coming.)

*Here’s a lengthy and to my mind insightful essay by Myles McNutt on Game of Thrones and the HBO brand. (Via Westeros.) Sample bit:

In earlier conversations on Twitter where I tried to find just where Game of Thrones fits within the HBO Brand, there were some logical parallels: the scale of the series is perhaps matched only by Rome (which was both a BBC co-production and an actual historical series), and the kind of fan interaction necessary for its success most closely mirrors True Blood. And yet, the show doesn’t fit easily into either of those categories, in that the show lacks the romantic and camp elements of a show like True Blood but has a greater expectation for authenticity (oddly enough) than Rome – it seems strange to suggest that viewers are scrutinizing a fantasy more closely than an historical drama, but such is the nature of a literary adaptation of a beloved series with an intelligent fan base whose expectations of this story go beyond what Sookie Stackhouse readers might have expected from the adaptation of their beloved novels or what history nuts might have anticipated from Rome (which was also sold as a fictionalized account of the historical event in question).

I’ve thought about the “accuracy” angle a lot versus True Blood, which I’m told plays fast and loose with the details, and even some major elements and characters, of Charlaine Harris’s novels while remaining broadly faithful to the overall plot, and versus The Vampire Diaries, which I’m told has almost nothing to do with the novels anymore. (Clearly the same is true of Gossip Girl.) I’m tempted to say that female-based fandom is more forgiving of deviations from orthodoxy, but then I remember that a) The Walking Dead seems to be doing just fine by most of the fans of its source material despite increasingly massive deviations from the original (and despite not being all that good, but that’s not really relevant here), and b) The Lord of the Rings, which mentally I’ve constructed as the gold standard in fandoms that demand absolute fidelity, actually made quite a few changes itself. Tom Spurgeon has argued that fans don’t want fidelity, they want flattery — flattery of what they the fans believe to be the most important aspect of the work at hand. I tend to agree with him. But in a case like Game of Thrones, where so much of the story is driven by byzantine plotting by the characters, I think fans will get a bit restless of there’s too much mucking about with it.

* Game of Thrones t-shirts!

* Jim Woodring Frank t-shirts!

* Hyphen magazine profiles my pal Shawn Cheng of Partyka. (Via The Daily Cross Hatch.) Worth reading for the pronunciation guide to “Partyka” alone!

* Ben Morse on Juliet, the best villain in Gossip Girl history. Money quote, in more ways than one: “In the weird dynamic of this show where the spoiled brats are the heroes, it just makes twisted sense that the girl who has to do her own dishes is the villain.”

* Thank goodness someone’s finally going to put the spotlight on the Marvel Comics work of Brian Bendis. Aw, I kid. I actually think a PR initiative based on talking up the writers who help decide the direction of the Marvel Universe in an almost editorial capacity is a good idea, insofar as that’s a pretty unique set-up in terms of the history of superhero comics and worth talking about as such.

* Please subscribe to the RSS feed for Jesse Moynihan’s webcomic Forming; I don’t see how you’ll be disappointed in terms of the sheer visuals.

* I’m sure I must have seen this illustration of Lady Liberty and Lady Justice making out somewhere before, but only in seeing it now do I realize how cool it would be if there were a giant Statue of Justice on the West Coast somewhere, with the two of them bookending America like the Argonath.

Carnival of souls: Game of Thrones, Marble Hornets, Forming, Puke Force, more

November 29, 2010

* With Boardwalk Empire‘s season finale approaching, HBO is unleashing the kraken with regards to publicity for its next big thing, Game of Thrones. Over the Thanksgiving weekend, the network released hi-res versions of all the photos from last week’s Entertainment Weekly spread on the show…

* a preview of a 15-minute making-of featurette they’ll be unveiling prior to the Boardwalk Empire finale next Sunday…

* and a new minute-long teaser.

And frankly? It all looks wonderful. In particular, starting that trailer with that particular scene appears to indicate that they know what the books are about, not just what they’re about, if you follow me. As always, they’re just trailers and promo stills and therefore completely unreliable, but. But but but! (Links via Winter Is Coming and Westeros, as usual.)

* Meanwhile, I plan on finding it really weird to watch mainstream pop-culture sites cover the show–even though I myself only discovered the series this year and am far from a GoT OG.

* The enormously engrossing, uncomfortably disconcerting online first-person horror film/ARG Marble Hornets has returned after a seven-month absence for its second season. When I say “uncomfortably disconcerting” I’m really not kidding. Even though I’ve just about exhausted all the information, commentary, and parody available on the project, I still find myself freaking out a little bit when I have to go out in the dark to take out the trash. They’ve hit on a really powerful set of images and techniques. If you’ve got about a movie’s length of time to kill, start here; the latest “entry” is embedded below.

* Two of my favorite webcomics had real doozies for their most recent installments: Jesse Moynihan’s Forming and Brian Chippendale’s Puke Force. Bookmark them!

* It’s official: The Hobbit movies will be filmed in 3D. Peter Jackson seems like a filmmaker who was made to make 3D movies. Certainly more so than James Cameron!

* Wow, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark had a rough opening night. Like, rough enough that I wonder if someone–the creators, the performers, the audience, the newspapers, Bono, someone–was just joking. Bitter experience and Avatar have taught me that I have no clue whether or not something will be a for-the-ages flop/demonstration of classical hubris; that said, the story of this show has been completely mesmerizing, and not for the reasons one imagines Julie Taymor, Bono, the Edge, and Sony or Marvel or whoever want it to be. On a qualitative level, my appreciation for Taymor’s glam weirdness is offset by my disgust with the leaden pretension of the U2 music I’ve heard from the show, so I don’t know how to feel about it in that regard either.

* Chris Mautner’s Comics College column tackles Hergé. Since all of his Tintin work is in the same format and working basically the same genre and tone, he’s one of the great “where to begin?” artists in comics. Well, here’s where to begin!

* Sean P. Belcher was a good deal more sympathetic to last night’s episode of The Walking Dead than I was. Basically we agree about its strengths, but differ in the weight we place on its weaknesses.

* Spurge is right: This Deborah Vankin profile of Joyce Farmer’s new memoir Special Exits makes the book look and sound great. I won’t spoil the really revealing quotes from and about R. Crumb, either.

* Trouble with Comics had a bit of an RSS spasm over the weekend, but it brought Christopher Allen’s thoughtful critique of Jack Kirby’s OMAC to my attention, so I’m glad it happened.

* Hawt stuff from Brandon Graham. (Via Agent M.)

* Very much looking forward to Ryan Cecil Smith’s Two Eyes of the Beautiful II, on sale at the BCGF this weekend.

* I’m digging what I’m seeing from Alex Wiley’s Hugger-Mugger Comicx. I like the cute-brut linework and citrusy colors.

* Wow, 102 pages of unpublished comics from James Stokoe!

* Real Life Horror: Every time I think about it, I am freshly amazed that Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri are still at large nine years after the 9/11 attacks they orchestrated. (And that we’ll probably never be able to try and convict Khalid Sheikh Mohammed because the Bush Administration tortured him, but that’s a different matter.) The AP has a fascinating, if somewhat depressing, report on the lucky breaks that have kept al-Zawahiri out of American clutches and/or crosshairs. Here’s hoping that once all the money we save by freezing federal employees’ salaries singlehandedly ends the recession and persuades Republicans to put aside their differences and become good-faith allies of the President, there’ll be enough left over help catch this murderous fuck.

* This is one of those days when I want to link to everything that Ta-Nehisi Coates writes. Money quotes:

I’d love to see someone make the argument that private sector managerial experience entitles you to run the NYPD.

on incoming NYC schools chancellor Cathleen Black

What scares me is how this sort of crime-fighting, post-9/11, basically justifies itself. So we’re at war with terror. A war means we need to find and isolate the bad guys. So we send agents provocateurs to areas where bad guys might frequent and, essentially, employ a version of buy-bust theory to smoke them out.Then we announce their neutralization via arrest, thus proving that….we’re at war with terror. Rinse. Repeat.[…]Indeed, I suspect one could declare war against racism and just as easily employ provocateurs to cyclically “prove” the problem of violent white supremacists.

on the FBI sting of would-be Christmas tree bomber Mohamed Osman Mohamud.

* Rest in peace, Irvin Kershner and Leslie Nielsen. The Empire Strikes Back and The Naked Gun are two of the movies I’ve absorbed completely enough to have a hard time imagining how I would think and speak about certain things without an array of quotes from them at my disposal.

* Finally, as I mentioned earlier, is up and running. Matt Wiegle and I will be updating it on Mondays and Thursdays. I can’t wait to share these stories with you!