Friday, June 30, 2006

DUN DID IT AND RAN

Tom Spurgeon brings the humble. Here's him saying pretty much what I said about the newest Mome, but with far fewer words. Like a gooder writer would...

BENSIDAM BABIES

Before flattening heads last night, 8-Hours explained that it's Ben Babies for shorts. Shorts for Benjamin Babies. Now, that is funny. Then the Weasel for the 00s explained that the jamin in Benjamin should be pronounced Rasta. Suddenly, Ben Babies is funny. What's wrong with my head that I never tried to find the longs of Ben. It's a simple game, but my brain refused to play.

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David B.'s Babel 2. He's really doing a full-fledged sequel to Epileptic, is he? Except, remember those movie sequels that where just rehashes of the original movie with a bigger budget? That's sort of what Babel is. We're getting a bunch of the same biographical scenes mixed in with bigger-budget fantasy sequences and world-history explorations. That's fine, as that's something I love from the guy. It's also great to see his work bigguns Ignatz format. And with color.

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I've done my MoCCA scans and should have writeups soon. Promises, promises.

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And so it goes. Ben Babies, the Weasel for the 00s, set up camp this morning at his new assisted-living location somewhere in the far-offs, waiting for electricity to arrive, all with what I imagine to be a devastator of a hangover.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

ALL-CHICK THREESOME DECIDES IT CAN'T WORK

There's no permalink, but it's the main story here, with this incongruous headline: Click here to see a list of Sleater-Kinney's Summer shows.

Good-bye, girls. It was fun while it lasted. And it lasted long time.

THE SQUIRREL MOTHER STORIES

By Megan Kelso

I love Megan Kelso's comics. Queen of the Black Black was the first Highwater Book I ever bought. I bought it because that's one of the greatest book titles ever, and then I discovered a naturally lyrical cartoonist playing with the formal aspects of comics and succeeding in making wonderful little stories more often than not.

It seems like it's been such a long time since we've had some Megan Kelso comics (I didn't pick up the Artichoke Tales books, thinking they'd all be packaged together by now... 2007, it seems. And there was the Scheherazade anthology Kelso edited, but it's hard to go out and buy a book the editor and several contributors have disowned. Eventually, maybe), but this book actually reminds me that it hasn't been that long. It's just been a while since we've had a good amount of them all in one place.

I'd actually read a few of these already in various anthologies like the Comics Journal Seasonal Specials, but here they seem reprinted at a more appropriate size and stripped of the unweildy context of those books rather laborious themes. Here, On the Beautiful Blue Danube isn't a nice little piece amongst 20 different cartoonists' strained attempts at making comics about music, it's just another Megan Kelso comic. And that's what it should be.

While some of the comics here may be familiar to alternative anthology readers, there's material here from magazines (the Arthur Magazine anti-war collaboration with Ron Regé —Fuck the Troops is a treat) and new stories as well. The pieces do go pretty far back, with her story from the wordless Comix 2000 included (Kodachrome).

The book is named after the first story in the collection, a gorgeously depicted piece about... well, it's a bit hard for me to say. It is, without a doubt, the most disturbing piece in the whole book. Scenes from the life of a "squirrel mother," a squirrel who abandons her too-many children in order to pursue the life she dreamed about when young, are interspersed with scenes of a dutiful mother and her daughter. There's ideas here about abandonment in a sense that's different and more complex than the ham-fisted sort of abandonment issues most popular entertainment plays with. This is the abandonment a person feels when the the person they depend on leaves them in an emotional way. It's a little bigger than that moment when you realise the person you love wishes they were somewhere else, it's the moment when a child realises that their parents might sometimes regret not living the life having children prevented them from living. It's not eternal abandonment by someone who has stops loving you, it's temporary abandonment by someone who never will. It's about the struggle to grow up and be independent, to no longer be your mother's child, with the fear of what that might actually mean. None of us want to remain dependent on our parents, but it can be terrifying to realise that you might not be able to, should you ever need to be. It can be just as difficult to let of them as it is for them to let go of you. Kelso also filters these feelings through a child who isn't old enough to process them correctly, so she responds to them the way a child might: she lashes out at her mother by destroying something she worked hard on in a way that will both ensure her mother has to stay at least a bit longer, while fueling her desire to leave.

Kelso also does this in about 8 pages, with just a few panels per page and with a minimal number of words. It's just an amazing piece of cartooning. One of the best short stories I've ever read.

On the Beautiful Blue Danube is just another wonderful story. When I wrote earlier that "it's just another Megan Kelso comic" was my bait before the switch. That's all it is, but her stories tend to be quite a bit better than what you normally encounter. If you pick up the Journal special "Cartoonists on Music" in which this was originally published, you'll find a number of perfectly talented cartoonists write exposition-heavy pieces on a favorite band, a concert where something slightly out of the ordinary happened or how music isn't as good as it was when they weren't old. Kelso did something different.

She had already experimented with ways to depict music in comics in a few of the Black Black stories, and the effect of music on people is a theme she seems interested in exploring. But this story is about the girl who had to pick a dance partner last, in a school dance class without enough boys, and got stuck with the girl who wold be picked last. It's about a mother remembering a time when she waltzed and that moment was perfect. It's about the way kids assert authority over one another. It's about the way kids associate music with the movies they see tem in. And it's about the way you sometimes find something cool about someone who really isn't. It's also about beautiful music, and the way it effects the moment and memory.

Another story that tackles the depiction of music is Nettie's Left-Handed Flute, which is a little more about the actual depiction of music. In it, waves, like pastel locks of hair, tumble and flow from the title flute.

While The Squirrel Mother is the most remarkable story in the book, the most pages are devoted to Alexander Hamilton, of all people. Three stories, Publius, The Duel and Aide de Camp focus on different aspects of the life and our perception of the man on the money who wasn't president (well, one of them). Hamilton is an interesting character, and Kelso makes a loving case for the monarchist, elitist, debt-loving, standing-army-advocating, central-bank-pushing, puritanical abolisionist. The most noble of those attributes was, of course, the one he was least succesful at accomplishing within the lifetime of his peers. I'm not a Hamilton man myself, I'm the Jeffersonian Kelso's character mocks, but it's hard not to love her rouge-stained dandy as he prances about, entertains the hangers on, bolsters Washington's wisdom and makes mincemeat of his rival. It's especially hard not to love the delicate curly qs, Kelso adopts to illustrate these tales. And it's hard not to dream of her version of Hamilton's final duel, although Jefferson would have not had a chance based on dueling skill, not the moral authority she grants Hamilton.

The whole book is beautifully rendered and colored (the stories reprinted in color or black and white as they originally appeared). Tom Devlin does his normal unobtrusive yet perfect design work. If it's not on most of the decent "Best of 2006" lists when they come out, than the second half of this year will have to be mind-blowingly good.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

HOKE V. DUMB

Shawn Hoke writes about the most recent issue of The Ganzfeld over in his Past the Front Racks column. He also talks a bit about the last Comics Journal message board thread I read. It was so mind-fuckingly frustrating a thread, that I haven't been back since. Hoke's take on it is more measured than mine.

Personally, I found The Ganzfeld to be a bit uneven, but really liked the parts I liked. Spurgeon mentioned incredibly Nadel's specific taste as driving his editorialship of Art Out of Time and you can see that in the Ganzfeld. It's all just what he likes, and where you'll like the book is where your tastes overlap. Me? I'd buy it again just for the John Dunn desk calendars should anything ever happen to my copy.

MOME 4

Fantagraphics has finally published a decent issue of their quarterly anthology, Mome. I remember being very excited about Mome when it was announced. David Heatley! Anders Nilsen! Jeffrey Brown! Paul Hornschemeier! Marc Bell! Truly, this was a fantastic lineup. And those were just the people I was pretty familiar with. I was also excited to see more Kurt Wolfgang, Gabrielle Bell and John Pham. I was less familiar with their work, but bolstered by the former 5, anything they did would be icing on the cake. I was also curious about Martin Cendreda and Jonathan Bennett. This was the first time in a long time that Fanta was making a concerted effort to expose a decent-sized audience to young cartoonists and give them some space to grow. And it would be in b&w AS WELL AS full-color. Mome sounded like the best thing since sliced bread. Also, there was Sophie Crumb.

Then the first issue came out. Marc Bell vanished like the fifth 9/11 airliner. Heatley was doing fascinating dream-inspired comics (culling material from Deadpan). It was hard to see what Hornschemeier was doing, but it was obvious that this was just the begining of a long narrative. It was even more difficult to see what Pham was doing, but its landscape orientation, color palette and delicate line made it intriguing. Bennett did a strange little piece that showed the most potential. He was serializing anything, so we weren't getting the tip of a slow iceberg, but a ten-page story. That and his 'fully formed out-of-nowhere' cartooning made his work jump. I like Nilsen's sketched figures with scratched-out heads expounding philosophical bit, I just don't like it as much as his more 'finished' work like Big Questions, so seeing it here was a small disapointment. Gabrielle Bell's story was servicible, but not very interesting. Brown phoned in a piece about having nothing interesting to say. I don't remember if Cendreda was in the first issue. Wolfgang did some short pieces that looked wildly out of place (big, bold and rough), but weren't as good as his best stuff. I just don't have anything good to say about Sophie Crumb's comics.

Then the second issue came out and it was more of the same. The tips of icebergs turned out to be the tips of tips of icebergs. Work that stood out in the first issue was less exciting in the second and I waited for someone to deliver one out of the park. I knew that one of Mome's purposes was to allow us to watch these cartoonists grow and develop into full-fledged, uh, cartoonists. Except that several were already. And they were doing better work before. Or elsewhere. But I don't want to come down too hard on the cartoonists. Some people don't work well under deadline pressure. For some of them, Mome is a sideline gig and not the big show. The work wasn't culled from a best-of selection, but seems to have been published on a 'whatever these 8 people give us' basis. The interviews with Gary Groth at each book's center have been a bit slight and fail to really address a question that needs to be asked, "Why these cartoonists?" This isn't me saying, "Such-and-such should be in there instead of so-and-so," it's me saying, "Someone needs to explain what quality these artists have as a group and as individuals to make the editorial process make sense."

The third issue came out and it was better than the first two, largely due to the fact that a few cartoonists pulled out and David mutherfuggin B. was brought in to 'fill the space.' See, this is what's confusing about the editorial process. David B. isn't a young cartoonist who has yet to do a 'major' work (neither are Brown or Hornschemeier, but maybe B. is older — he's certainly somewhat 'majorer'). And he didn't create his story for Mome. This was a story done for one of his French publishers, was a full-length 40pg. story and drove it home. A great little piece that was not his best work but was perfectly suited to being an anchor-piece in a short story or comics-lterary magazine.

And it's as though David B. stepped in and just smacked the whole idea of Mome upside the head. Co-editors Eric Reynolds and Gary Groth do fantastic work in their day jobs as publicist and co-publisher of Fantagraphics, respectively. Fantagraphics (alongside Drawn & Quarterly) has pushed the idea of the 'literary' comic so hard, that it has sort of become their signature (and it's not that they don't publish other types of comics). It's where their biggest stars work, their highest-profile work sits and where they are most-consistently successful in terms of art. It was mentioned in early press that Mome was an attempt at a Paris Review for comics. This is a fairly laudable goal, and one that fits in well with the Fantagraphic aesthetic. But the Review culled some of the best excerpts, short stories and essays from around the world, it didn't print just anythig a small circle of authors wrote. There were people who's work appeared more than once, even frequently, and there was fresh new work by new, unknown authors — but the idea was always to publish the best work that fit Plimpton and co's particular aesthetic.

And that's what Mome needed to do. Groth isn't that good at breaking new cartooninsts. He pretty much skipped at least 15 years of even paying attention to new voices. If you look at the 'new voices' in Mome half of them aren't really that new, but no one seems to really know what the hell sort of book this is.

Imagine a book with strong short stories or excerpts of Hornschemeier, Heatley or Brown's longer, upcoming books, rather than serialized bits. Great foreign works like David B's stories. Interviews that seem to address the central issues of the artists' work and the book's focus. Throw in top-notch work by other cartoonists not part of the Mome stable. Some nicley done complete short stories from strong voices. A whole bunch of stories that fit comfortably within the Fantagraphics fold.

If you imagine something like that, you might find yourself with something resembling Mome 4 (Spring/Summer 2006). After doing some of his best Mome work and getting the feature interview in issue 3, Kurt Wolfgang misses this issue. It's a bit of a shame. Especially since Sophie Crumb has returned after a one-issue absence. There are a number of fantastic cartoonists who weren't invited to the Mome party who would be a vast improvement over Crumb, many of whom would even fit better with the other cartoonists. If it's a question of just having more female voices in the book, there's easily a dozen women better-suited than Crumb. If it's question of just having that NAME associated with the book, well, then you're not doing this for the right reasons.

Those are the only complaints I have about Mome 4. That's it. No Wolfgang, too much Crumb. Bam.

We get four short dream comics from David Heatley. Heatley's rubber-band line, flat approach to the picture plane and over-saturated color palette are like an adrenaline shot through the breastplate. His unflinching looks into his biography, unconcious mind and psyche are like car crashes that suck your attention until you're forced to appreciate a hidden elegance behind the carnage. Stepping aside from the extended serial of previous issues, Heatley smacks us around a bit with these one-pagers.

Anders Nilsen does something a little different, revealing an early transitional work that would later get transformed into the gorgeous Dogs and Water. While it works as a stand-alone piece, it also provides a peek into a formative period in the artist's career and acts as something of a suplement to that longer work. It's just the kind of extra that fits in so nicely in these pages.

R. Kikuo Johnson tells a story about John James Audubon. His gag work in 3 was fun, and this look at the seeming contradictions in the conservationalist's life is interesting. The thin linework and heavy crosshatching is totally appropriate to the subject matter. Not everything in the anthology has to be a standout, and this is a perfrct example of a solid story that helps balance out some of the more outrageous parts of the book.

John Pham makes his last appearance in Mome. It hasn't been easy figuring out where Pham was going with his college slackers/geriatric teacher/ghost story, but it's been nice to look at. He's moving to a solo book from Fantagraphics. Hopefully, that will give him a bit more space to work his story out. There were just never enough pages to really grasp what he was doing. It's still very pretty, and the characters are interesting, but something paced like 221 Sycamore Ave really needs to be told in bigger chunks. I'm glad it will get that chance, especially as it moves further into an even more dream-like reality.

Martin Cendreda gives us a nice short story about time and the stories of people frozen and preserved in time in La Brea Woman. He has a sweet, understated quality to his art and writing that humanizes without over-sentimentalizing his characters. There's one little thing that bothered me, the guys in the car listening to their rap music too loud turn out to be trigger-happy gang members for no reason. It's a slight mistep in an otherwise well-considered short.

Paul Hornschemeier returns after a one-issue absence to provide the third chapter of his Life with Mr. Dangerous. I have a feeling this is going to read a lot better in the inevitable collection, but Hornschemeier is keeping his chapter-lengths in mind. Each chapter feels like a complete scene, with it's own meditation on it's main character's overriding theme of slight detatchment and strange obsession. And, again, it's lovely to look at.

Gary Groth interviews Jonathan Bennett and it's Bennett who actually takes up the task of addressing my problem with these interviews. He talks about having a place where he can feel he can grow, about the challenge of creating work specifically for an anthology like this and what sort of work he thinks such a book demands of him. Maybe it's the fact that they've got a couple of issues under their belt and they're finally figuring out just what the damn thing is, but it's nice to see them discussing the why's and what-fors. It's also nice to see Gary talk a little more like an editor and actually let Bennett know what sort of work he'd like to see from him in the future.

Bennett's story is appropriately placed in this issue. This is the one with his interview, so it's nice to see him have the stand-out piece in the book. A man questions his own seemingly impossible memories and compulsively tries to reenact them It's not even all that well established that the character is aware of what he is reenacting or what that reenactment might mean. He clearly confuses fantasy with memory, but it's unclear what it is about (junior)high school health-class videos that make them so visceral even in middle age. His story isn't about loneliness, but the character is alone. His inner monologue is so strong I felt more like voyuer than a reader. I also felt that I had a lot in common with the character, and it's good to have that sort of personal connection. And a little scary, in this case.

Oh, Bennett's art is also looking even better than in previous issues. There's more life and a sense of sge in his linework.

Robot DJ is another Gabrielle Bell story about being a single woman who loved alternative 80s music and is trying to connect with the people around her. I think it might be her strongest to date, which goes to show you that maybe some of these cartoonists were rightfully chosen for their ability to grow. Her drawing is still nice to look at, and her tavels through her character's history reads as authentic, even if the band "The Reads" isn't. There's that sense of getting so lost in one's memories of lost hopes, that you miss something tellingly obvious that I liked here. And there's this wonderful line, "Over summer vacation he'd suddenly transformed from a background kidto a substantial and slightly disturbing presence." I liked the line on it's own, but when I realised what it would mean later, I found it strangely haunting.

I think What Were They Thinking is the title of a recent series of public-domain fifties romance comics rescripted for What's Up, Tigerlilliy hillarity. Jeffrey Brown presents his own What Were They Thinking mashing up a standard (if original) scene from a Godzilla movie with the sort of shoe-gazing, self-absorbing narration his works are often accused of endulging. I enjoy those comics of his, but I think Brown's star shines that more brightly when he does attacks genre conventions with his particular sensibilities. Be a Man, Big Head, Wolverine and his murder mysteries have been some real high-points in his prolific output. It's also fun to see him play with the expectations of his art. There are no visual cues that Jeffrey Brown is responsible for the somewhat jagged, thick, inky brushstrokes (possibly brushpenstrokes?), but the whole thing is so much like his non-autobio work that's it becomes unmistakenly his. "I'm a Novelist," made me laugh out loud, and the whole thing is just a lot of fun. Who is thinking these thoughts? The author? The soldier? Godzilla? Are the soldier and Godzilla having the same existential crisis? Wonderful.

Then David B. returns with The Veiled Prophet. With both of B.'s Mome stories, the cartoonist has been approaching myth or folktale or something akin to myth and folktale in a way that reminds me of Jorge Louis Borges. These are short stories (this one is 31 pages) of fantastically imagined visual depictions of stories that feel ancient and almost beyond the realm of parable or symbolism. These are stories so big they encompass worlds and gods and monsters that we can barely fathom. If any artist is up to the task of representing size, numbers or images that can't even be imagined, it's David B.

When great armies face off against one another, distinctions between sides disapear. When a tsunami of the dead rises up to flood the world, it's hard not to imagine B. capable of rendering each one. Characters come together in a sense of real space just as often as they pile up next to one another like those plastic, interlocking monkey toys just a step removed from the picture plane. Shapes and figures are flattened against that plane just as often as extreme perspectives or almost tactile textures are used. Images are sometimes assembled like collages of pen mark. But we're never opressed with over-rendering or super-representationalism, each image is as warm and inviting to the reader as anything B. has produced to date. So impressed was I by B.'s work here, that I'm not afraid to claim it his best work in English to date. And it's an amazing way to close out a book that has finally found its way.

Here's looking forward to the next installment.

END OF AN EAR UH

Well, the apartment is now filled with overstuffed plastic bags and discarded cardboard boxes — and not all of it is garbage. Quite a bit of it is Marcos' stuff been packed.

Nearly seven years living together. Four at High St. and three on Montgomery St. ALL Jersey City, baby. We'll still be living in Jersey City, and now he'll be about halfway between Kenny and me (even if it's in assisted living arangements).

It's an idea who's time has come, but it all feels a bit bitter sweet. We should have a send-off. What was the number for those hookers? You'd think I'd have it memorized by now.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

SHE WAS DRESSED AS A WARNING

I don't know who she was, but construction must have followed her everywhere...

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It's common knowlege that I hated the first two Spider-Man films. I almost walked out of the first, about halfway through, so bored to tears was I. It's the first movie I ever considered doing that to. The second was better, in the way that punching yourself in the face is better than stabbing it with a steak knife.

Anyway, I checked out the trailer for Spider-Man 3: Oh My God, it's Full of TV Stars, because even though the movies suck, the trailers have been pretty good across the board. Well, they were.

Sandman looks pretty good in sand form. He should, he's basically the most ideal digital effects villain (alongside Hydroman). The Black Costume manages to miss what made the Black Costume awesome in the 80s. Namely, the big, creepy white eyes and great big white spider emblem. Really, without that, Venom just becomes dark-grey Spider-Man. Eric Foreman looks like a tool, but that might be appropriate. HobGreen Goblin looks the same as before. Kirsten Dunst will once again make me hate her (remember when she was perfect?). And people will keep calling her 'MJ' — ugh! Some gargoyle creature, bathed in peroxide is playing Gwen Stacy.

The absolute best part of the trailer is the fact that they're positioning this as Peter Parker's struggle with interracial gay sex:

"How long..." (snicker)

"Can a man fight the darkness..." (um...)

"Before he finds it" (taking him from behind?)

"in himself?" (okay! you win!)

LIVIN' IT UP WHILE I'M COUNTING DOWN

Let it officially begin. Countdown to SPX 2006, October 13–14, Bethesda, MD. We just recieved our conformation notice that we're in the pipeline last night.

I have to book us a room. I have to remember to book us a room.

When I saw how much the table cost, I thought they screwed up and didn't give us the early registration price. Turns out they DID give us the early registration price. I really need to start keeping track of these things. Of everything, really.

Make up some crap with table costs, hotel costs, printing costs, supplies costs, print runs, store sales, convention sales, internet sales, give-aways, whatever else. Something a little more formal, that I can just fill ins the quick. For instance, I may have to go into another printing on EMAW #5 already. I want to have a thing where I can keep track of these things.

Maybe I should always be printing. Don't do runs but sell 1, print 1. Sell 10, print 10. Might be better than spending a week and a half printing and assembling before each convention.

Keeping track, running things like swiss watches and odd women. I really need a personal assistant.

Monday, June 26, 2006

IF THEY LET ME LEAVE

I'LL STOP BLOGGING

Seriously.

Went to the Hard Grove for the first time since the smoking ban took effect, sparked by Ed Cunard's recent visit. I couldn't believe it had been that long.

Well, shit done change. Food is still great. They still make the best cup of coffee in all the land. But the giant palm centerpieces were gone. The window decorations were gone. Our utencils came in a wicker basket loaded with stones instead of a plastic Campbell's soup jar. Our syrup came in a white carafe with a cork instead of an Aunt Jamima bottle. Our plates matched (plain white). Our utensils matched. Our mugs, containing the best bustello in in all the land weren't eight-inch-high, thick ceramic cauldrons. They were kinda big white cups.

It was all rather disapointing. Sure, it was nice to have new, clean serveware, but it lacked charm in a soul-devestating way. The food can make you forget everything so long as you close your eyes, but you have to open them at some point.

Not being able to smoke really sucks too.

So sad. I'm sure I'll get used to it though.

FULL 12-INCH VERSION

It's the "Rapper's Delight" of blogging. Going on and onanonanon until the break of dawn.

Movies. Movie soundtracks. Music for the eternally depressed-but-dancing... What els could I possibly have to blog?

Comics. Dman them. I'm actually almost through mine and Marcos' MoCCA hauls. It's strange, because I don't have half the books I should have. My haul was depressingly small, and each book I read reminds me of the twelve books I didn't get. There's good stuff there, even some great stuff, but there was more great stuff than I got. Marcos got some, and we usually don't get the same stuff because we live together — but that's coming to an end and now I have to start doublin up.

I really need to get out to the tables at SPX on Friday. It should be the slow day, and I'll have lots of time.

As for Earth Minds Are Weak, I stopped working on Kaiju Jugoruma when I couldn't stand some of the drawing. Something was just not clicking for me. Started fooling around with a couple of things, but I'm not picking them up until after I set up my new freakin' awesome studio. I was working on the other thing, but my art self-loathing took a hold of my neck and gave me a good shaking.

It seemed I had once again forgotten how to draw.

It actually happens a lot.

It's one of the reasons for the blog. I want to be able to make my thoughts about my art a little more concrete. Have a sort of written account, not of the things I need to remember, of the things I forget all too frequently.

When I started proofreading, I had a little sign up above my desk. It had the differences of "its" and "it's". It's not that I couldn't remember the difference between the two, but its purpose was to remind me that I sometimes forgot to notice if it had been used correctly. And that's a big part of this blog for me.

So, I noticed that I had forgotten how to draw. It's similar to the day I got some fat brushes and realised I had forgotten how to hold a brush. I know how to do it, but my muscle memory had left me. My hand actually HURT the next day. All because my hand had forgotten how to hold a brush and I only just remembered that I needed to stop for a second and remember that I have a tendancy to forget what should be second nature motor functions.

At MoCCA, I forgot how to sign my name. I've been out to dinner and forgotten how to use a fork. I sometimes stand in front of my office building with my house keys trying to remember how to open a door. I ran several races in highschool when I'd think about something other than running for half a second and suddenly my legs would forget how to run. It's amazing I've made it this far.

All of this is the long way around saying that I'd forgotten how to draw. Which I already said. See that, I'd forgotten how to be succinct (oh, I've never been good at that).

So, I'd drawn a bit for this other EMAW project and thought I'd take a stab at pushing it a little further. But what I had wasn't right. It wasn't the worst thing I'd ever drawn, but it wasn't right. It was some perfectly servicable art that communicated the basic information well-enough. But it wasn't right.

It's not a case of not translating the image in my head to the paper accurately. I don't do that. What in my head is impressions, ambigous lines, shapes and colors that suggest an image. It's zoomed in and out and a bit fifth-dimensonal. It's panels and words. Or sounds and voices.

What it is a case of is finding the image. In much the same way that writing can be about finding the words. In fact, the piece I'm working on is all about finding. And loss. When the idea struck me, I had this all-too-clever sort of thing happening where a character mistook everything around him for something else. And I kept trying to force it into this formulist narative that it kept fighting. Every time I forced the main character into a space, he kept trying to get something out. I wasn't letting the character say what he wanted to, because it kept fucking with my plot contrivances. I just wanted to laugh at the character, but he had something a bit sad to tell me. When his voice started getting stronger, I 'heard' his little story and knew I'd found the piece, despite my best efforts.

Well, drawing can sometimes be that way too. I'd thumbnailed the piece out, and the thumbs served their purpose. But when I drew the first panel, everything was wrong. So I redrew it. And everything was okay, but it had no life. The guy on the page wasn't the guy who told me his story.

But I didn't know WHY he wasn't the right guy. All the physical features were there. The proportions were accurate. The set-pieces were all in order. It was a bit stiff, but my drawing had been a bit stiffer lately. I figured I was just going through a phase.

What I needed was a sign above my desk that reads, "REMEMBER, YOU SOMETIMES FORGET HOW TO DRAW." If I had that, I may have skipped a few steps.

I looked at the stiff pencil image and decided to go over it in felt-tip pen. Find the lines I wanted to emphasize. I thought about breaking out the brush and just attacking the image, but then I remembered that my problem with the KJ pages was that the inking was fine but the underdrawing was crap.

Okay. I flare pen out the lines that seem right, but the whole thing looks worse. The lines I worked so hard at putting down on the page so that I could pick out the correct ones all turned out to be wrong. There wasn't a good one in the bunch.

I started getting frustrated and angry. I tried tracing out the image, I tried redrawing it looser. I found, amongst all my 8H and 9H pencils, a 6B pencil.

Good-fucking-Zanzibar. When in doubt, break out the soft lead. I tackled the image like a fat man on cake (if you've never tackled a fat man on cake, then what do you know???). I just broke that fucker down to component parts. Spotting blacks and defining forms.

Then I freehanded the damn thing. I needed to figure out where the image really was. When you hit it with the ruler, you sometimes find the image moves to a different locale. It can shift the composition. Kick the perspective in a different direction. Sometimes it's good, because it can open the space up. If it all looks too tight, hit the parallels with a ruler and you can sometimes find the missing space.

But when it gets too stiff or the shape of the thing gets lost, it might be time to whip out the softness, hold it like a piece of vine charcoal and find the damn thing again.

So I hit the freehand and it started to resemble something I could life with. The composition got tighter. The elements felt lived in. It looked like this was someone who lived somewhere and was saying something and was drawn by someone who wasn't completely incompetent.

Then I hedged my bets and did it up again. There he was. There was the guy what told me the story. There was his face, his hands, his hair. There was the photo on the end table. The food wrapped in foil. The thinning skin on his arms. There it fucking was.

Suddenly, I felt like I remembered how to draw again.

DO NUT STOP

After downloading that Robert Downey Jr. song... what? I couldn't help myself. "I'm broken. (listen to me) I can't hear you. Elefant futurist nose fast"... I went on some kind of unexpected industrial/goth kick. What is about Robert Downey Jr. that made me think of Ministry?

Grabbin' up some Ministry, I decided to check out their pre-industrial music. I forgot what it sounded like. Some things your ears just forget. Like Ministry sounding a bit like UB40. While grabbing Land of Rape and Honey, I also picked up their song "What He Say," because I can't mutherfuckin' believe Ministry did a song called "What He Say" back in their goofier days. You'd think Al Jourgensen traveled into the future and stole a Suave idea before it happened then went back in time and told the band, "This is what the future will be." Then they made it sound like UB40.

Also grabbed some Skinny Puppy, some Front 242, some Front Line Assembly and Depeche Mode's Violator (stealth music fan goes more than 30 years without ever owning Violator, news at 11).

I should pick up some eyeliner on the way home tonight.

PADDY WAGON HARMS

I forgot the best part about KISS KISS BANG BANG. You've just watched this perfectly enjoyable movie when the end credits come up. And there's this completely inapropriate latter-day Sting song playing over the credits. You don't have much interest in checking these credits out, but the shock of the lazy song holds you just long enough to realize, "Sting is drunk." Sting is el BLOTTO. Slurring his words and uttering phrases that make no sense. Then the voice sounds a bit off, and you think it's that guy from Coldplay. Only he's drunk. Coldplay is el BLOTTO.

You get to the end of the credits (the song plays all the way through) and you discover that the song was written and performed by Robert Downey Jr. himself. Clearly, it was listening to this recording that convinced him to enter rehab. If I went on about tasting my medicine, the paddy wagon face in the clouds, the smell of my robot and holding you in my harms, you'd recomend rehab to me too.

Actually, he's got a whole album of this. It's wonderful. Or, rather, it's terrible. Awful stuff. But you should at least do the 30-second preview dealy on iTunes and laugh at this stuff. Because it's very funny.

TASTE MY ROBOT

MOVIES! So many movies.

Jesus is Magic Sarah Silverman's standup movie. I've liked Silverman for a long time, so this was enjoyable but familiar. One thing I realised was that a lot of her jokes remind me of Steven Wright. Maybe it's because so few comedians tell jokes that the comparison seems apt, but I think there's also the fact that a lot of her jokes rely on an absurdist turn. However, Silverman's material is almost all ridiculously offensive. It's also funny, but I wish she had more jokes. Fill that space up.

Transamerica This was good. Felicity Huffman wore more facial prosthetic than I expected, but she acted through it very well. She really is a fantastic actress, and I'm glad she's doing something I'd watch again. The kid is good, channeling the full-on Actor's Studio aproach. It's also got Graham Greene and Elizabeth Peña! She doesn't do much, but he's got a great little part. He and Fionnula Flanagan completely own every scene they're in. It's a classic road-trip movie with strange characters bumping into other strange characters and teaching them to love again before heading off to meet other strange characters. It's well-done, but a million times better on dvd than it would have been in the theatre. Actually, it seemed a bit 'piloty'.

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang Robert Downey Jr. Val Kilmer. Action-comedy. Is it any surprise no one went to see this? Well, a few people did, and they kept saying it was a really enjoyable film. You know what? That's exactly what it was. A 'wrong man', buddy cop, L.A. detective, action comedy good time. Dialogue that's witty and clever without sounding like the writers were trying to ride Quentin Tarantino's ass. Downey hits all the comedy perfectly, Kilmer is really understated and funny.

Mirrormask Hmm... I love The Dark Crystal and I have a certain fondness for Labyrinth, two films this movie deliberately tries to invoke (well, it apes The Neverending Story rather slavishly as well). It's none of these things, for better or worse. On the one hand, you have all these great Dave McKean images come to life. On the other hand, he doesn't really want you to see them. On the one hand, there's that Neil Gaiman way of writing dialogue that channels Willy Wonka discussing Joseph Campbell. On the other hand, they don't want you to actually hear what the characters are saying. On the one hand, this could all be new and intriguing to you if you've never encountered either man's work. On the other, this will all be all too familiar to you if you have. It's all a bit, 'eh', unfortunately.

Friday, June 23, 2006

THINGS I HOPE I HELPED PEOPLE WITH

Brendan McCarthy, Ghostface Killer, Maria Swan, Hypatia Lee and Bettie Ballhaus all filled out their X-Factor application forms at the Kupperman Thrizzle. Under 'previous work experience', Brendan McCarthy wrote, "I did dunz the duel." Ghostface Killer snuck pictures of John Cena from June 19, 2006 in between pages of his resumé, hoping that Madrox the Multiple Man was a fan of the Five-Nuckle Shuffler. Maria Swan hummed a tune from Gnarles Barkley's "St. Elsewhere." The bass lines made her surreal chest quiver. Hypatia Lee wrote that she left porn when she woke up and found that it hurts when I pee. It doesn't hurt her, but it hurts me. Or did, one time. I appreciate her consideration and flag the app for Wolfsbane. Bettie Ballhaus cited her appearance on Super El Bla Blazo. The puppet souldn't be reached for confirmation.

I realized that McCarthy's cover letter was a reproduction of the first four paragraphs of Borges' "The Shape of the Sword." Fed up, I had Strong Guy declare a "Carla's Choice" and we all enjoyed the tight delights.

IDUSTRIAL SHORTS

I go into Taco Bell, as I normally do on Fridays. The girl at the register was a trainee. Poor girl.

I tell her my order and she's not sure what keys to push. It's understandable. It's an unusual order. And it's her first day (cue Penguin Navy laughter).

The girls, my girls, in the back start yellin' at her. But so many people are shouting at her that she gets even more confused. One of the managers (nice guy) steps up and says, "Whenever this guy comes in, he get the Grande Meal. That's this button here. It's ten hard or soft shell tacos or burritos or combination. He always gets them all crunchy with no cheese and a large drink. You'll get the hang of it."

And I'm one step closer to accomplishing my life-long dream of appearing in a Taco Bell training video.

"ALL TACO BELL EMPLOYEES! WHENEVER THIS GUY COMES IN, HE GETS THE GRANDE MEAL. YES, HE EATS THEM ALL HIMSELF. IN ONE SITTING. LET HIS FACE BE KNOWN THROUGHOUT THE LANDS.

HAIRCUT LIKE I GOT SHOT IN THE FACE

12-hours at the office. Get home and there's a note from Hugh Jueveier, he's meeting the Devil Dan U. at Mercer & Barrow.

I have no cash, so I run a tab. We drink. I've never seen Saranatha before, but she says she's been working there since the place opened. And she's married, so "no funny stuff." I hate it when they're married before you even meet them — it hardly seems fair. There's other business there. There's Whiteballs, who's got scoliosis to die for until she opens her mouth. There's Sorethumb, who never comes in. There's Pairofpairs. There's some sort of Pool party in the back room.

Hugh Jueveier, the Devil Dan U. and I talk about all the things that need talking about. Sports, love, work and the job.

I Only Have Eyes For You plays on the stereo.

Life starts vibrating on the fiction frequency again. Strangers at the bar are singing along. I realise that I'm one of them.

Two dudes walk in with Marta behind them. The odds against seeing my downstairs neighbors without some sort of manharem will get you big jackpots in Vegas. Whatever, it's nice to see one of them and have an actual conversation. I can't believe how much she reminds me of Michelle. That just makes me wish I was more social. More neighborly.

Maybe I will be. We'll see whay happens when Hugh moves out and the three of us are spread. Marta and her boys leave. Devil Dan U. goes home. Hugh and I go back and listen to some rough justice. It's really rough, but I think the next album will be good.

I was going to do some comics work. I was going to read some comics, too. I was going to shave and cut this hair before I turn into Knightrider. Instead I passed out and now I'm back in the office.

This is why things don't get done.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

IN THE STILL AT THE WORK

It's nearly 8PM and I'm still at work. So, naturally, I'm longing for the glory days of communism. One of the great things about communism was that polish movie poster makers couldn't view the movie before advertising it. Another great thing was that they couldn't use the western posters. I don't remember where my favorite communist movie poster site is, but check out these godzilla posters.
Here's two:

They even make me forget how awful Mechagodzilla is:

What a country!

RATHER RIPPED

Yes, that is what I'll be. I'm gonna be good huge instead of bad huge. And it all starts in July. The coolest month of the year.

What else is Rather Ripped? Why, Sonic Youth, of course. It's back to the days of Butch Vig for the youngsters, and they still craft good pseudopop song, even without the Garbageman. I listened to this last night as I shirked all duty to read Death Note 6: There, All Better Now.

After reading Kenny's moving words and Jog's reasoned words, I realized that a lot of good things happened in DN 5, even if the plot seemed to stall, and I still have problems with Misa Misa. But it did have the single most emotional part of the series, the resignation of Aizawa. Or, the non-resignation of Aizawa, I guess. He was just one of the faceless cops, but that sequence made him one of my favorite characters. And then he was gone. And Ryuk was gone. And Rem was barely there. And the whole gamesmanship story dropped. And I wasn't sure I cared about Death Note anymore. 5 may have been better, but it wasn't what made me fall in love with it.

In #6 we actually get to know the seven replacement Kiras and Light's gameplan becomes more evident as L unravels more of the mystery. It's got more Rem, more gamesmanship, Misa Misa seems more like her old self and I can't wait to see what happens next. Also, it's got a moment that made me stand up and cheer. I cheered. Out loud. I stood to do it. Dman you, Death Note, you made me stand up and cheer.

Can't get enough Jerry Cornelius? Or maybe you want Moorcock back in your life, but this time you'd like it to be readable (like the joke about the tatoo)? Well, Matt Fraction and Gabriel Bá's Cassanova #1 is for you. You've read it all before, but probably never in olive green. I'm not up on my 2-color printing, but where does olive green fit in? CMYKOG? Is it a pantone process? How does that work? Anyway, it's all part of that $1 mini-line starting at Image (like Ellis' Fell), so you can read that classic sixties/seventies formula on the cheap. In all fairness, Fraction nails the formula and actually does it up all Gødland style, complete with a nonsense villain, cool Hindu/Kirby monster and Dum-Dum Dougan as necrophile. It's fun. Nothing wrong with formula done right.

And one thing Fraction got me to do was download River Deep, Mountain High, a song I didn't have, even though I could have sworn I heard it recently. Good tune. One day, I'm gonna put together an all-Spector mix and call it Moon Knight for shorts.

Speaking of spooky tunes, I still need more songs for my scary songs mix. It's a mix of pop songs that are actually kind of creepy. Not Hit Me Baby, One More Time creepy or Slave for You creepy, but I Only Have Eyes for You creepy. Beautiful songs that are super creepy. Crimson and Clover creepy. Maybe that Rebekah Del Rio a capella, Spanish-language version of Roy Orbison's Crying. I want to have a full hour's worth, at least.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

DMAN IT

Chris Butcher, who seemed to go out of his way to avoid the Cliff Face table (look at how these pictures actually seem to be shot around our heads) has posted the Drawn & Quarterly September solicits. Anders Nilsen joins Marc Bell and Peter Thompson (whatever happened to those guys???) and the guy I don't remember in doing a Petits Livres (leetle book) for DQ. I love Nilsen. I love his work (even the scratched-out head people) and I'm sure I'll love this. But it's about his girlfriend dying of cancer. Damn.

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Well, it's official. EVERYBODY'S LEAVING ME. If this keeps up, I'll finally be living that empty life I dream about most nights.

HAPPY SUMMER SOUL 'STACHE

We just got a big order from Midtown Comics late last night. I'm still reeling a bit. Since April, we've been getting these orders and reorders from Midtown, Comic Relief and Jim Hanley's Universe which have just been amazing. And a bit scary. It's one thing for a store to take a chance on you (a saintly thing, in my book), but it's a whole other kettle of fish to sell enough of those books to require reorders.

Also, I'm a little embarassed that I didn't realize there were two Midtown Comics, Times Sq AND Grand Central. I've been to the Times Sq., but not the GC. I'll have to check that one out some time.

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Speaking of comics, I'm hoping to do some scans of MoCCA books tonight so that I can write a little about the ones that struck me. One I read last night was 72-pages long, densely panelled and 7 x 8.5. And I couldn't put the damn thing down.

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Speaking of speaking of comics, Ed Cunard interviews AdHouse Books' Chris Pitzer. Good interview and the official announcement that AdHouse will be publishing the new Dawso book. This thing has been in the works for forever, and I'm glad that it's found a home at a good house. I'm not sure when Dawso made the deal, everytime I saw him his 'new voice' was surrounded by admirers and people wanting to touch him like he was the Ayatollah. The interview also adresses some stuff of conventional interest, and whatnots.

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Speaking of houses, that guy with thumbs who lives in mine might be interested in Ellen Forney's big new book from Fantagraphics, I Love Led Zeppelin. It will look good with the Eternals he's rushing out to buy.

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Speaking of Led Zeppelin, I'm thinking about returning to the land of the ice and snow, during these eternally sweltering hot days. Especially today, this longest of days. Right after we fill that order.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

SHOWCASEY

There's a Showcase Presents: Phantom Stranger (with Dr. 13!) coming in September. Get me drunk and I'll tell you of my Phantom Stranger love. I'll tell you (get me drunk and I'll tell you anything you want, baby). Now I with I'd been able to get the mold off that wacky Mignola series. PHANTOM STRANGER!

I've seen words that there's a royalties issue with regards to DC reprinting books after a certain date (which is why Showcase Presents: Jonah Hex ends with Cowboy Beluga instead of more Hex). Which is why we might not see a second House of Mystery (even if sales warrant — who know if they do), but I hope to see more of these great books. Imagine Showcase Presents: Dr. Fate by DeMatteis and McManus. IMAGINE IT!!!

Apparently, if I'd gone to the Grant Morrison signing at Forbidden Planet last week, I'd have heard him say that he wouldn't do "52" unless DC let him do Seaguy 2. Sweet.

Kramer's Ergot #6 comes out next month. Will it be as different from previous volumes as 5 was from 4? The preview images are all different from the last time I visited the site, but it looks like the anthology is actually following a tragectory, a slickness tragectory. Hopefully, it will still be good (great = more like #4, less like #5). And I still don't know how I feel about that cover.

I DREAM IN MANGA

I've dreamed 'normal' dreams, I've dreamed in movies, I've dreamed in theatre, I've dreamed in comics. Last night, for the first time, I dreamed in manga. I need to write it down, because it's not bad. Allow that idea a chance to breathe outside my head.

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Locked myself out of the apartment last night, drank some whiskey and didn't make it home until late. When I sobered up a little, I began transcribing the two stories that got themselves stuck in my head yesterday. One turned out to be very short, on is turning out to be longer than I expected. Of the shorter, I realized I needed to say less than I had planned. That's nice. It's a small thing and I'd hate to have it take up too much time and space. It's just the size a small thing should be. The longer one seemed like a small thing, but one character's voice is filling it out a bit.

I wonder if there will be a third piece to round things out? I could theoretically fit the much longer piece I was working on last week in with these. They'd make a decent threesome. I'd prefer to have a shorter piece in there instead, three shorties. But I can't deny they're links. We'll see how the muse wants to play it.

I just realized that none of these three has a name. There's the short one, the longer one and the longest one. The three bears.

Monday, June 19, 2006

WHO DID IT AND RAN?

Pics of the June Sessions.

I've been thinking about Suave Prospects a lot lately (mainly because we've been burying our heads in it all weekend) and the work process.

We recorded our first couple of songs over one weekend, with an entire albums worth of tracks recorded and done in about a week. THAT's some rough justice.

We followed that with a couple weeks of pre-planning and then recorded the second, longer album in about a week with about another week of tweaking. This was about 5 months after the first album.

THEN we did an EP about four months after that. That wasn't very good, and represented a bit of a backwards slide after much improvement.

We took some time off and the recorded The Pumping over the course of several extended sessions with more extensive post-production. We brought in a few friends to help out and it all turned out pretty fucking sweet. We even performed our one-time concert.

That show was three years ago. When we did the show, we developed the idea for a new song, recorded before we parted High St. Studios forever. That fall, we began a long process (6 months?), laying down tracks for what would become Forbidden Libidinals.

We packaged that baby up, sent copies to friends and then stopped. Or rather, kept going. Life, wimmins, Florida, employment, comics and everything else suddenly stopped SP in its tracks.

Then, last winter, DJ Wetmouse, King Leisure and C-Man started laying tracks. Rough beats and and rhythm nations. We put a few vocal sketches down and things were starting to go again. And then we stopped. There was too much else to do.

Well, this past weekend we made more tracks, started shaping the recent works and added a ton of texture to the ruffus.

Things are going to stop again. But we'll be in a good position when we pick things up again.

All of this is my overlong way of saying, "I'm thinking about work process. And time." (I'm clearly not thinking about concission).

I'd been working on Kaiju Jugoruma for a bit, when weather struck and made it a less-than-favorable project. So, I found myself making tiny books for MoCCA, but I timed it all poorly and didn't have them done. The day after MoCCA, I found myself consumed by a story that's all roughed out. Then we broke for the Suave, but this afternoon I got cricket-batted upside the head with two short stories. Right on top of each other.

Suddenly, I'm in this rough space. I want to get something done. And I think I will do it soon (barring the big, upcoming move), but I'm also thinking about having some roughs done, sitting and percolating. Lots of thumbs hung on the wall to look at or bury and forget for a little bit of time. And then beefed and tweaked and slapped and shredded. And then workedsome more.

Let little things slip out as big things swell.

Stick it, make it ice.

STAT: US

Okay. Weekend of Suave. We've layed some down. We got rough cuts of several tracks (I believe 8 was the number floating around). I think I started the weekend thinking all the beats sounded the same, and ended the weekend thinking that we had some wonderful beat variety, but all the vocals sound the same. I'm always frustrated at this point though. We just have the first passes at our vocals down and now we can listen to them, learn them and make them come alive. Afterall, we only just wrote the lyrics this weekend.

Most importantly, we had fun. We indulged our vices without ever going overboard, we did a lot of work without getting TOO bitchy, we relaxed without getting too lazy and we wrote without getting too stupid. And we watched Pootie Tang for the 12-thousandth time.

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I've begun the great MoCCA read. I'm still a bit bugged that I didn't get even MORE books, but when would I have the time to read them all? Still, things are looking good on that front.

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I YouTubed some of the new ECW (the pay-per-view matches and some of the first Sci-Fi Channel show). It was great to see Paul E so happy. Boy looked like he was about to cry. Some of it was pretty good, too.

Using Sandman to come in and just beat the crap out of silly 'sports-entertainment' characters is a good way to pop it nostalgia without forcing us to watch any real Sandman matches.

Sabu vs. Rey Mysterio was really good. Apparently Rey has been having the worst run as World Champion on Smackdown, losing or being shown up more than he's won, so it was great to see him in a real battle. It was a spot fest, but Sabu actually managed to refrain from any sloppy business he often falls into, and they kept most of the spots from looking staged.

Which was a problem in the Tajiri/Super Crazy vs. FBI match. Some nice stuff from the never-disapointing Tajiri and Little Guido (Nunzio) might be one of the best cruiserweight jobbers around, but some of the attempts at tag work from Tajiri and Crazy didn't work. The awful attempt at a double Tarantula was lousy. But Tajiri redeemed the whole thing with a nutso hold (octopus?) where he climbed up on Mamaluke's head and wrapped himself around his arms. God, I love Tajiri.

Tazz and Joey Styles make a good announce team, and Lawler played his heel-role perfectly in the ridiculously short squash by Tazz. Is Tazz so far gone he can't go more than half a minute with King?

RVD vs. John Cena was strange. I haven't seen Cena in a match since he went to RAW (or Smackdown moved to Friday nights, whichever was first), but I've been hearing about how his off-the-cuff, Stone Cold/Rock mix was splitting the crowds. He seems to have forgotten more wrestling than he's learned and has become this polarizing champion: causing really vocal cheers and boos amongst crowds. With an ECW crowd, though, it was all boos (and fuck yous). All his 'face' gimmicks made him a huge villain as everyone deplored his 'sports entertainment' character in favor of 'real' wrestling.

Except he was wrestling RVD. A guy who can't wrestle either. RVD can be good on the mic (rarely great though) and he can do a number a fun spots (mostly just throwing himself into people and stuff), but he can be sloppy and he can't REALLY wrestle. But RVD can work harcore, he can work garbage, he does the big spots and, most importantly, he stuck with O.G. ECW until the end. So, he's real, but Cena isn't. I call a teeny foul.

What can I NOT call foul on. Kurt Angle. Working with Heyman. I love Kurt Angle. It's hard for me to desribe how much I love Kurt. He has one of the best characters and the best technical ability of anyone ever. I just love that guy. I haven't watched that much, but I did YouTube that match he had with Undertaker a couple of months ago. It was ridiculously good (ceratinly the best UT match I can remember). Aggressive and violent, Angle and UT made every move count and made it look like it counted. It was just brutal. And this is sort of the Kurt who has joined ECW. A brutal may worker, with choke-holds and crazy mouthpieces. He's smaller now that he's off the human growth hormone and pain killers, but he's taking any withdrawl or pain out on his opponents. And I can't think of a better recepticle than Randy Orton. Out 60 days on a sexual harrasment punishment (so say hearsay), Orton needed to be schooled a bit in the ring. And Angle delivered. And then on the Scifi show, Angle just brutally squached Justin Credible. It's beautiful thing to see: Angle becoming this sick, technical maniac. I want more. I just hope that there's enough opposition for him in a thinned out roster to make it interesting.

After Angle v. Sabu... there aren't any real dream matches there. I like Al Snow and Stevie Richards, but I'm sure they've fought Angle and I'm not dying to see that. I'm sure we'll get Angle v. RVD, but that doesn't seem all that special. Angle v. Big Show can be good, but it's been done. Balls Mahoney? Ugh. Terry Funk? PLEASE retire, Terry. Sandman? Dreamer? Tajiri would be great (although I'm sure they've faced off before), but he's not listed on the roster. In fact, that roster looks a bit crap.

LIKE LAST TIME, ONLY BETTER

The hours and paperwork continue to build up at the office, the chance for full MoCCA recovery still lies somewhere out in the distance and the summer has begun in Ernest — damn him for saving it. What I should have done this weekend is fall asleep in my space hammock, drink some space cocktails and let a space prostitute cool me down with some sort of space fan.

But Jack Action was coming up to J.C. and he wanted to get the band together for one last big score. Well, we all know how these things go. We began on Wednessday night with a friendly game of poker, little did we (King Leisure, DJ Wetmouse and myself) know we were all being seduced back into the real game. That game of life and death. The game of Suave Prospects.

We fell into our respective roles more easily than we squeezed into our old pants. At first, we dismissed Jack Action's plan as unfeasable, and besides, we didn't DO that sort of thing anymore. But before long, we were each figuring out how we could make the plan happen — if we did it, which we weren't going to do.

I woke up the next morning — still a bit drunk, still a bit stoned — and I could see what Action was getting us into. So I fled. I holed up in my office and tried to live as normal and ordinary a life as I could. The mundane drudgery of office work. The dull wits of my co-workers, the long hours toiling on pointless tasks, the double-speak, the uncompensated overtime.

I called Angella Bassett and made plans for an ordinary evening. I had to get away. The Suave Prospects had lived too close to the edge for too long. We had played it fast and loose and got out before our number came up, but that just meant our number had time to wait and plan. And I didn't want to be there when the number sprang.

Met 'gella at that jazz club she worked at, the one Richard Crenna runs. I helped her close the place down for the night and we danced amongst the upturned chairs to some dusty old Mingus records.

But there was something bothering me. Something sticking in my craw. That craw in my pocket. It was the cash from the other night's poker game. I had cleaned up, and the feel of easy money was suddenly more alluring than my critically acclaimed girlfriend.

Maybe, just maybe, I could pull this off. This one last big score. Maybe our number wouldn't come up. Maybe 'gella would never ask where the money came from. Maybe we'd be able to finally open that Tahitian jazz club I see flittering in front of my girl's eyes. Maybe no one would get hurt. Maybe Suave Prospects could really make this thing happen.

But we all know how these things end.

Friday, June 16, 2006

RE: MIND

New Mr. Lif. More personal bla-bla-bla. I just hope it's good. I'm not sure I was hoping for less conspiracy theory and future beats and more feelings and goth backings, but if THIS is Lif more personal:

"I wish I could ring the blood outta your clothes/ Give back your afros and your strong black nose," "And I yawn and grow weary/ Succumb to old theory that strips my wits of thoughts I used to hold dearly," and "The Bush Administration's worth nothin' Just fuck em!/ Throw 'em in a barrel Buck 'em!...Fuck Clinton too!/ You ain't really down because you live Uptown, bitch/ Rwanda!"

Then it should be good. He's never been my favorite Def Jux guy (nevermind one of my favorite rappers) but I usually enjoy his stuff.

Action reminds me to check out new Sonic Youth.

And I need to remember that We Jam Econo is June 27.

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This weekend should be Suave recordings. With Action in town, and ready to rumble, we might even lay some track. It's been our longest period without putting album, disapointing tens of people. Looking around at Leisure, Action, Mouse and myself, I think the new album should be called Fat Men Whipeout. When did we let it go??? Wha hoppen? Saddam!

It will also be the massive MoCCA dive-in. I'll be hip deep in it. Or knee deep. Looking at my stash, I'm wishing I'd not restrained myself and went hole-hog. Like last time, only better.

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I haven't read my MoCCAs yet, but I did read the first volume of Golgo 13's Greatest Hits: Supergun on Jogomendation. The last thing I expected was a book starring Manga Bill Clinton and Madeline Albright's crazy zip-a-tone shirt. And that's what I got. And it's great stuff.

Golgo 13 manages to be the greatest assassin ever, hits the near-anonymous chick spy, out-ballistics the ballistics expert, runs around Iraq with his early-70s sideburns and black shirt under a white jacket "undercover," gets jobs done without even being hired and barely shows up in his own book. This is how cool he is. He doesn't even have to be there, and he's still the awesome.

And that's what the stories are about. This guy is so awesome, you don't even know how awesome he is. And then you try to imagine how much more awesome he must be. Either you try so hard to imagine, you imagine something worse than you can stand, or you dismiss his awesomeness to the point where you set yourself up to be destroyed by it.

Good funs.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

WHAT TO DO WITH ALL MY WINNINGS?

MONEY! VICTORY!
These are words that describe how my feel. Like swimming in ill-gottens. Thanks to Action, Leisure and 'Mouse for giving up their liquid assets in game of skills to me. Pair of eights for splits. Pair of eights for knockitabout. Something else for the win. All in and all out. Ground control to Major Player. You're wallets full, there's something right. Can you hear me Major Player? DOoDOoDOoWweeeeoOoooOOOOoDODOoDOOOEEEEEEeeeeee

ALL I SEE ARE CANS!

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After the intoxicating poker game last night, Neil went to go get me a sandwich. I'm still waiting for it. But while he was out, I decided I needed some comics reading, but I didn't want something I might have liked from MoCCA, I wanted something terrible. Luckily, Marcos picked up Civil War #2.

The main action in this issue if supplied by Patriot, one of the Young Avengers. I don't know much about these characters, but Patriot appears to be the Captain America of that team. Not to be confused with the guy I assume is the ACTUAL Captain America, a guy so skilled at undercover work, a SHIELD agent (tasked with finding Captain America) mistakes him for his own partner and is suprised to find out it was Captain America ALL ALONG. The Falcon is a bit of an arrogant jerk—this is all you need to know. Daredevil, in prison in his own book and a guy who almost always works solo, is in charge of tactical coordination for the underground superheroes.

You see, the government is rounding up and imprisoning all the superheroes who are breaking a law that hasn't gone into affect yet. Possibly because they're torturing super villains... I'm not actually sure. I'm also not sure why the Vulture and the Grim Reaper would be hanging out together. But they're working underground. Or something.

One thing I am sure of is that I had forgotten all about the version of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe that gave each character his own removable page that could be assembled in a binder however you the fan wanted. Thankfully, the photoshop skills of the artist include scanning and free-transforming those pages into SHIELD computer monitors. I don't think Keith Pollard even got credit in the issue though.

"Every superhero is a jerk," seems to be the message, with Iron Man building a not-so-top-secret prison for his friends called "42," ("52" was already taken by DC), She-Hulk and Mr. Fantastic high-fiving(!) each other while their friends are hunted and Mr. Fantastic more excited about a superhero prison than anything since he saw his first black hole (Galactus? the Negative Zone? These things are crap compared to the glory of a Superhero prison). Mr. Fantastic is so excited about hunting down his friends and imprisoning them, that he can't even be bothered to visit his brother-in-law in the hospital.

There's an attempt to write Mr. Fantastic so in-character while acting so out-of-character that it hurt my brain.

Peter Parker singlehandedly eviscerates the argument for superhero registration (the argument is that wearing a mask and fighting crime as an untrained kid is bad) by saying saying he's been at it since he was 15, then he undermines his character completely by revealing his identity.

Nick Fury is in hiding from his underlings for some reason. Much of the plot for this comic appears to be happening somewhere else. Without editor's notes—'Jovial' Justin.

My biggest problem with this issue is that it's not a glaringly bad as the first. If you don't know the characters, it all probably reads pretty well. No camel's backs are broken, no characters are randomly taped onto the page, screaming characters are pictured screaming when they should be screaming. There's a page of Yellow/Red Spider-Man swinging by the Daily Bugle that looks like the worst kind of ass, but it's not funny-bad. They're using a version of J. Jonah Jameson that's ALMOST right (but the artist has no idea how to play the comedy).

The funniest part of the book is the two-page Superman ad. The best part is that John Romita Jr. ad for The Eternals.

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It's good to look at these things though. Now I'm more prepared than ever to plunge into my MoCCA gottens. I've flipped through a few (Paping #14, Ayo's books and Bill Roundy's), and I think this is going to be a good weekend for reading comics.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

NEBULA ALU BEN

As my thoughts start moving into next year's convention scene, I looked up the Heroes Con in Charlotte, NC details on the advice of Ben T. Steckler. This is what their site says:

Artists Alley prices are as follows:
Regular Space: $50. This is the most inexpensive way to appear in Artists Alley--it includes 1/2 of a 6' table and one chair.

Small Press Table: $100. This includes a full 6' table and three chairs--suggested for those appearing with items to sell or promote, or for 2-3 people appearing together.

Indy Press Booth: $250. This is a full 10' x 10' booth--the same size as dealers receive, but at half the price! It includes 2 8' tables, and four chairs.

The preregistration price for a table at MoCCA in 2007 is $275 dollars. Even if Heroes Con prices go up next year, it might be interesting to check out the NC scene. I think J. Chris Campell and Chris Pitzer are the organizers of Heroes Con's artists alley.

It's a thought.

It's probably common knowledge, but if it's not, then you didn't hear it from me. But the next FF movie (was the first any good?) is Fantastic Four and the Silver Surfer.

ARE YOU AFRAID?

As I flip through the comics I got at MoCCA, I remembered meeting K. Thor Jensen. I feel like a jerk not remembering half the people I meet at a show, and like an even bigger jerk not remembering to visit half the people I already knew.

Kenny asked me if anything noteworthy had happened at the show... well, there went a wonderful girl I met just before Evelyn and I got back together who I couldn't call, there's the girl that didn't call me, there's her friend, there's the girl that broke my heart, there's the girl that would never have it, there's my sister's ex-boyfriend asking if I can introduce him to Chip Kidd (we're like THIS, you see), there's my old friends, there's some recent friends, there's some potential friends, there's the guy that stood me up, there's Brian Musikoff and me trying to remember how many times we've had the conversation where we realized that we live a town away, there's the last time I'll see my parents before they move to Florida...

The nicest thing anyone at MoCCA said about my comics was that they had earlier issues and wanted the new ones. The nicest thing anyone said to me was that my manboobs could get me free drinks at any bar that used to advertise on Al-Q: your club and concert calendar (side thought, did Al-Q go extinct after 9-11?). Nicest thing anyone said about me and my comics was that I should be doing them completely differently. Wait a second...

I wonder if the APE and MoCCA attendance figures are floating around anywhere. Attendance at both seemed down from last year. I'll note that both shows were preceded by weeks of ceaseless rain and took place on the first sunny weekends either city had seen in a while. Watch out, Bethesda! Get your slickers early in September, cartoonists are coming! We're like Pilgrims, always preceded by rain.

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Since I'm not quite ready to take the plunge into MoCCA comics (and there's nonMoCCA comics to be got as well, courtesy of Viz and others), I've been sticking to my Borges for yesterday and today. Reading the story, "The End" I'm struck by a sense that I've read the story before. In fact, many of the stories in the "Fictions" section of the Collected Fictions are familiar. I'd read "Funes, His Memory" in the Paris Review collection, but where did I read "The Cult of the Phoenix"? When did I read "The Shape of the Sword"? There's a whole literary history that I've somehow encountered without my knowledge.

Now, there is a familiarity to Borges writing. It's as though you've known his voice before you've read a word. Presumably, Borges (or his apparition) visits our mothers in their sleep while we take form in the womb and whispers his stories to us. That's the only reasonable excuse I can come up with. Because, even though there are elements and themes that run through many of his stories (labrynths, memory (heh), knife fights, failure, acceptence, etc.), and even though any author who has read his work becomes influenced by it (how else to explain the similarities in almost every magic realist's work), there is just something about these stories that suggests that I've read or heard them before.

What's interesting about "The End" is that it's such a strange story. It's only four pages long, but it starts as one thing and becomes about something else entirely. It's a story that can't be true, but it's a story of such specificity that it must have happened. It's the oddest tale I've read in the book so far, and yet it's almost the most non-descript.

A bar owner finds himself paralysed for some reason. Another man plays his guitar after losing a singing competion on the same night the bar owner became afflicted. A third man arrives and apologizes to the guitar player for being so late for an apointment. As they talk, out of sight, but within earshot of the bar owner, it becomes clear that the two men must fight each other to the death. The story is told by a semi-omniscient narator who tells the story as though he can see from the bar owner' perspective or the other men's as the story requires. He knows some of the men's thoughts, but doesn't know if a certain boy is the bar owner's son. It's a story about honor and acceptence of one's fate and the horrible things people do to one another and the way people know each other without fully knowing each other and the experience of not knowing everything that is happening around you and memory and knife fights.

Anyway, it made me think more and more about memory. Perhaps there was some device that would remind me of where I previously read this story. And I was thinking about memory and sense memory devices and memory triggers and short stories when something happened. A new story entered my head. I began playing with the thoughts of a story about storytelling and about memory and about specific memories. I remembered things that reminded me of other things and the way the memory of remembering something can be a story. Or a part of a story. Or a germ of a story.

And I started writing it down. When it's in your head, it's like you're seeing something happening, something you're not exactly creating, but something you can alter as it passes by you. But when you start writing it down and the faces and body language start shaping the way the words come out of the character's mouths, you realize it's not something you have much control of at all and that story you thought was yours is theirs. And that it's not a new story, but one you've heard before even if you don't remember hearing it. Something these apparitions whispered to you while you took shape in the womb and your mother slept.

Monday, June 12, 2006

THE PECS ON THAT GUY

Starting to put my thoughts for this weekend in order.

After an incredibly busy week of Short Staff/Heavy Loads vol. 2 at the office, tell-tale cats and convention preparation; I was rewarded with a chance to work a 13-hour day on Friday. By the time I got home, the thought of further prep work was outside my reality and I just drank the wine, toasted C-Man on his birthday, drank the more wine and drunkenly slept 4-5 hours before heading to the Puck Building.

We had a table on the Houston side of the building, with Meathaus/Farel Dalrymple to the right of us, The Ganzfeld/Lauren Weinstein/Pantheon across from us and Brian Musikoff right behind us. That's pretty sweet company to keep.

I've had to relearn how to work a convention. I was so used to people coming up to us last year to ask us what our deal was, that it never occurred to me that I'd need a new style. That I may have to talk to people when they show an interest. Last year was all, "Earth Minds Are Weak? What's the deal with THAT?" or "HaHaHaHaHa. That's true." None of that business this year. Perhaps people are all up ons the Earth Minds, or maybe it just didn't stand out. Either way, I had to develop the cool-hand Lukes/active engagement guy. Maybe it helped that I was single last year. I was in that mindset. This year, I'm the guy who forgot how to date. I was finally getting my groove thing back by the end of Saturday. That was good. The absence of Friday prep work hurt a little (I had no signs, no nice shelf talkers, no art blowups) but I still had the good times.

I saw a lot of people. Tony Shenton, who has been doing great work for us, putting books into stores, Randy Chang and Peter from Bodega Dist., made a fool of myself with Neilalien (actually, I had a great little conversation with him about blogging and genre, but I committed the faux pas of asking about the location of his Cloak of Levitation), Matt Feazell, Carl is the Awesome Pimp Beaucoup Kevin, the loquacious fart-joke lover Ben T. Steckler, high-energy Ayo, "new" voice in comics Mike Dawson, Sakura Maku, the guys from Indie Spinner Rack, Jon from the Center for Cartoon Studies and many other people.

Lots of friends came out just to see us and experience their first (or second) comic book show. So, extra-special thanks to Bernadette, Stacia, Alyssa, her man, Adrienne, that guy, mom and dad, Jill.

Maybe I'll eat some food and then my brain will be in better shape for blogging...

Sunday, June 11, 2006

PAPING OVER MoCCA

MoCCA is now behind us and I am the exhausted. Saw some great friends, met some awesome people, had some times, sold a couple books, traded a few and bought a bunch. I'll have much more to say once my brain and body fully recover.

Some of the books I bought/traded for were absolutely fantastic (and due to a desire to not go completely brokass, some of the books I didn't get were equally great — it was a particularly good show), but the book that HAS to be the book of the show for me, so far, is the new Paping #14.



I want to photograph a page or two in the coming days (scanning would be prohibitive), but I have the cover to show, at least.

I haven't read it (or anything) yet, but Paping has never let me down, and this is just an amazing object.

Hand-burnished (images unique to each book) wood covers sandwitching a collection of Partyka/Paping artists ayy working in silkscreen (each issue has a theme or focus, and silkscreen is this issue's). Comics and images from Dave Miko, Sean McCarthy (the greatest monster artist of the 21st century), Shawn Cheng (unless he's the greatest monster artist of the 21st century), Billy Mavreas, Sara Edward Corbet, Matt Wiegle (the great mythologizer), Zak Smith (map recycler), editor John Mejias and Jeffrey Lewis. Beautiful stuff.

I can't wait to get into it all. Well, I can. I need sleep. Badly.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

IF THIS RAIN DOESN'T STOP...

Suffering a bit from Thor's water torture.

Pig-hearted Charlie Rose returns to work. It will be nice to see that ol' drunk again.

For the first time in two weeks, I'm not short-staffed on the jorb, and there's no work to to. Joy. I've been so busy, it was actually starting to get to me. Physical exhaustions. Mental breakdowns. Collating books last night was nearly psychadelic.

Then I watched these viking kittens and felt better.

I need some rest.

MoCCA should be the funs. Table A-80, sunny days, comics-comics and people. And alcohol.

Just have to staple and fold my EMAW 1-4s tonight. Then I have to print a few more copies of a few books, to replace the ones I screwed up in the makings. I don't even HAVE to do that, as I should have more than enough copies to go around right round round, but I'm anal and need to have Shad Evens across the boards. And I just remembered what the hell Shad Evens means. You didn't know this was a mystery, but it was.

Another mystery was: How many days in a row can it fucking rain in the northeast? I still don't have a final answer. It's nice: paper is all damp and cold, ink smudges all over, printer can't handle paper properly, pages go from flat to Dunes in seconds... most of my books are now in 3D.

The Fantastic Four/Iron Man: Big in Japan collection either came out this week or comes out next week. I'd like to pick that up one time. It's the last book Seth Fisher worked on in. Bought the first issue and enjoyed it, but decided I'd rather have the collection than ad-engorged singles.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

HIDDEN CROUCHING PUSSY CAT, KILL! KILL!

Back story: Evelyn went to Puerto Rico on the 26th of May and returned yesterday, June 5th. In the interim, her friend, Jen, and I were chargd with alternating nights of feeding her two cats. One of the cats is notoriously always underfoot and the other is notoriously always finding new ways to hide from the world. Evelyn wasn't surprised when she only said goodbye to one of them. Especially since she was having work done in the bathroom. Cleo was probably hiding in a closet.

I didn't notice anything strange when I didn't see her either. I rarely do, and I was only running in and out. Feed, clean and get leave. That's my motto. Or one of them. Evelyn did think something was amiss when she came home to find no Cleo. The worst was assumed. The workers had arrived before Evelyn woke up that Friday and left after she was on her way to P.R. At some point, maybe a door was left open and the terrified animal fled into a nearby yard, empty lot, dumpster or busy intersection. Shelters were checked, vets were notified, neighbors alerted and signs fixed to store windows and telephone poles. There was a lot of crying. A lot of crying for a stupid cat.

Now, I'm not the most unsympathetic person on the world. I'm sure someone is worse than me. Somewhere. And while I don't understand why anyone would want a pet, I know people get very attached to theirs. They're family members. Smelly, annoying, filthy, dumb-ass family members.

This morning, Evelyn was getting ready for work, upset she had to do this while in mourning for her cat, when she heard mewing coming from behind the wall of the shower.

Sometime on morning of Friday, May 26, Ms. Cleo made her way into shower (that was closed off) and climbed into the big, gaping hole in the tile. When the workmen arrived, they were careful to keep the doors closed and went about their business of repairing the wall. They did a fantastic job. Very solid craftsmenship. No cracks or airholes. Nothing half-assed about it. What none of them realized was that the stupid cat had hidden herself from them, terrified as she is of everything that moves.

The landlord came and started smashing the wall open again. The stupid cat finally poked its head out, but refuses to actually come out. Food is near the hole to lure it, but it's in no rush to leave its home for the past ten days. Evelyn is relieved beyond belief. The signs have been taken down and the workmen are waiting to hear when they can put the wall back up. But first we all have to wait for the stupid cat.

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Did no work last night, but I am back to reading Borges. Into the Fictiones.

Monday, June 05, 2006

EMINENCE, PLEASE!

Okay. I think the dvd player is dead. Or at least in need of a good shakin'. When you can only watch a few seconds of an unscratched dvd at each chapter break before the whole deal crashes, something's wrong. If you can even get the player to recognize that the shiny disc you loaded even IS a dvd.

So, I watched the second Beast Machines: Transformers dvd on my puter instead. When the show first aired, I was very disapointed with it. After the 3 wonderful Beast Wars series, Beast Machines was a visually dark, cluttered, confusing mess that ruined some good characters. Watching it now, a lot of the action is still pretty confusing to my ol' man eyes (remember him?), some of the designs are crap (Rat Trap and not-quite-ready-for-Brendan McCarthy Nightscream in particular), and I miss the Megatron of Beast Wars (as well as some other characters) and the slapstick is severly lessened.

Still, though, it looks nice on my puter monitor — really bright and highly stylized — and the story is pretty damn interesting. Cheetor and Primal's relationship is amazing. The Tankor stuff was what worked best when I first watched this, and it's still quite enjoyable. I love the Drone, love the Thrust reveal, and find myself looking forward to the second half of the season in a way I didn't expect.
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Supposedly, HBO and David Miltch have come to an agreement on Deadwood. HBO said 12 episodes was too many, Miltch said 6 was too few. So, they compromised and settled on two 2-hour movies. That's right, folks, halfway between 12 and 6 is now four. I wish I had those negotiating skills.
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I'm done with DC's 52. Four issues in and that's gotta be the most boring superhero comic I've read in a long time. When one of your characters spends a page complaining about how boring it all is, the big reveal needs to be something that actually jars the reader. A dumb lizard-man and his cardboard box of laser pistols — in Gotham City — is about as lame a reveal (or 'mystery') as you can get. Black Adam went from being almost interesting to just killing people and now Steel is turning into metal (missing the point of his character) and Booster Gold is called out on his crass marketing (thanks, Fire) and then a bunch of characters this nerd didn't recognize AT ALL show up in bad shape from space where they did something one time. Then Donna Troy is reminded about the first Crisis for no reason. Wow. I'm on the edge of my seat.

There are only two things that could get me to pick up number 5: an All-Will Magnus Metal Men Red Tornado issue where they deal with the only interesting plot thread: all the super scientists are missing (the others might be interesting, but we still don't know what they are, four issues in).

The other thing would be a whole issue explaining why Colossal Boy came back in time to impregnate Hawkgirl, and the difficult labor that ensued.
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Skyscrapers of the Midwest is weird. It's enjoyable and weird. I wish I had picked up the first two issues. Will have to look for them. It could have just been a competent 'nerds have it tough growing up' story, but then the giant robot shows up. And the kittens with jetpacks. And the bug-faced guy. There's also some nicely dark humor in the text pieces.
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Okay. Printing goes the well. I might reprint some pages that are done. Some ink got smudged while I was cutting the paper. WHEN WILL THIS HUMIDITY END ALREADY??? But, I have most of the books printed and assembled. And then I'll make the display, which will be a pretty simple affair. Despite myself, it looks like I'll be done in time for MoCCA. Cliff Face Comics will be at table A80, the opposite end of the Puck Building from last year. Further from the entrances, but in the bigger room and hopefully with working airconditioning.

It's going to be fun, and it will be great to see people again and see lots of new comics and meet new people. I'm feeling pretty good about the whole thing.
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I'm looking forward to next weekend in large part because this weekend was so much better than last. I got a lot of work done, tried two California Sauvignon Blancs (although one might have gone bad on the shelf, the other is fine) in my summer Blanc obsession, actually had some time to hang out with friends (I don't think I've hung out with Marcos, Kenny and Jeff in a long while), had some complete nerdouts trying to remember the entirety of Chris Claremont's X-Men run and discussed the possibility of starting to let some books go out of print. I even enjoyed driving fot the first time in years. Borrowed Evelyn's car and just enjoyed the feeling (with no panic attacks) of driving. Even when I got lost in Newark for three hours on Sunday, I didn't mind all that much. I can't believe I spent three hours driving around Newark completely lost. It's almost shameful. But I was having a good, relaxing time. Part of the problem was, I've never been to the southside before, so a lot was new to me in that part of the Bricks. I also haven't been to the Ironbound since it got turned into Newark's 'good, company dishes' so that was nice, although it's still really just Little Lisbon with an arts center. Not that there's anything wrong with Little Lisbon. If you're going to spend half an hour stuck in traffic, Little Lisbon is an ideal place to do it.

Friday, June 02, 2006

SHAPER OF WORLDS!

Oh, man. Took me longer than I thought find this image. I think some Savage Critic mentioned him the other day. How can you not love that guy? I can't find his first appearance, but I'm sure it was in battle with the Hulk at a time when Kirby defined the Marvel House Style, but certainly wasn't drawing the Hulk. Or designing his enemies. Shaper of Worlds!

Halfway through the b&w printing. All my side ones are done. Tonight, I begin printing side twos. Maybe I'm not so far behind afterall. I'm feeling the energy coming back to me. I think it helps that I've gotten good and pissed off at the office. Thanks, clients! Thanks, Doug!

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Picked up Dan Nadel's Art Out of Time: Unknown Comics Visionaries, 1900–1969. My first reaction was that there were certainly some artists or cartoons I had seen somewhere. The Boodie Rogers and "White Boy" strips, Nostrand's piece, the Upsidedowns, Ogden Whitney, Fletcher Hanks and a few others. It's possible that some of these were printed in other places in order to prepare us for this book. I'm not sure.

There's definitely some wonderful stuff in here, and all the cartooninsts deserve some recognition. The volume is attractive, but it's also one of the most frustrating books I've ever seen. I have two major complaints with this book:

1) A LOT of this work is printed too small. Someone made several design decisions (the book's dimensions, not clipping the gutters around the reprinted pages and the unneccesary gutters of the pages themselves). There's an attempt to give the book the look of a monograph, but almost all of the artwork could easily have been presented larger and most of it really should have been.

A book about finally revealing the work of unheralded artists shouldn't be presented in such a way that the work remains mysterious.

2) The book is not recolored. Back when The Comics Journal's message board was still breathing a bit, there was something of a discussion about the 'correctness' of having Bernie Krigstein's comics recolored for those gorgeous reprint editons. Much of the recoloring was done by the original colorist (and one of the most talented), but when it wasn't, other corrections were made by the book's editor. The result was spectacular.

Art Out of Time takes a different approach. Newspapers and comic books are photographed and/or scanned and reproduced without correction. Paper is yellowed (often unevenly). Color is faded, flaked off, severly off-register or all three.

The very first examples in the book are the most depressingly reproduced, suffering from all of the above problems. Somewhere beneath the squalid reproduction is a most amazingly beautiful comic in the dreamlike vein of Windsor McCay. But the Sunday pages are reduced to the point that words are illegible, the pages that were scanned were initially printed with the colors off-register by a good 1/8 of an inch. The paper has yellowed, turning bright whites into disrespectful browns. The color has faded and flaked to the point of losing its luster and making several backgrounds, done entirely as color holds, nearly invisible.

There's some fantastic swork in here. Really, incredible gems have been unearthed, complete with brief historical and biographical details. Comics that should be seen and read and looked upon with some regularity. Exciting lines and forms, shapes and colors, words and phrases all fill the book. I have no doubt as too the love Nadel and other contributors share for these comics. I just wish it was all presented in a way that made that love a little more palpable.
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