Wednesday, August 30, 2006

SOLO #12

Brendan McCarthy draws the way I wish sex felt like. He's hardly the greatest artist in the world, or even the greatest cartoonist, but there's something so dirty, so sensual, so physical, so transgressive in his art that it just looks like the greatest sexual moment you never even dared to dream about. And 'dream' is the operative word. McCarthy strikes me as the sort of artist who is dreaming a better world than he is experiencing, and living that dream. And it's a wonderful thing to be able to hold some new McCarthy in my very hands.

Solo #12 is the final issue in a strange series from DC Comics and editor Mark Chiarello, handing 48 pages over to a different, idiosyncratic cartoonist with each installment. It's the final issue because sales weren't really that good, the series routinely finding itself lacking any real 'mainstream' star power and the stories inside ran counter to the prevailing 'event-based' sales focus of contemporary superhero comics. This is a very eighties-feeling series, but this isn't the eighties and individualistic approaches to superheroes is not as strong a hook as editorial-driven, linewide crossovers that 'change' the licensible characters or their world until the next editorial-driven, linewide crossover. It's the inherent weakness of the series, since sales of each issue probably would have been the same if the cartoonists got to work with their own creations instead of spending time on OMAC or Saturn Girl. Since the focus of the series has been "what would it be like if Sergio Aragones drew Superman?" instead of, "what it be like if we gave Sergio Aragones free rein to do whatever he liked, and the market presence to have it seen?", just about every issue has been a dispointment. Yes, even the Darwyn Cooke and Paul Pope issues.

This issue is EASILY the strongest in the series. One of the reasons it's so strong is that McCarthy gives a great, big "Fuck you" to the concept and instead provides a virtual sequel to his bizarre "artbiography," Swimini Purpose.

The first hint that something is different is the cover. Instead of DC editorial rejecting Mike Allred's "Batman doing the Batusi" cover, McCarthy doesn't include a single recognizable charater, instead opting to present a figure that's a pastiche of some of McCarthy's own characters that appear in the book. It's done in the same, textured contour line McCarthy employs in most of his pen-and-ink work with the highly textured coloring that fills his shapes out. It's psychadelic, futuristic, surreal and dirrty. It's trangender, weird and a lovely image.

Inside, after a couple of pencil sketches, the book proper opens with a small image of a train amidst a nebula covered in typeface. It's not really that great at all. The drawing of the train is nice enough, but the poetry and photoshopping over the NASA photo looks more like a college dorm poster than a great McCarthy piece.

Things then take an abrupt shift sideways to quality with the first new Brendan McCarthy comics strip in 13 years. Has the madman lost anything? No, he hasn't. There aren't enough McCarthy comics in print (one of the great shames in comics), so it's a revelation to see this. Brian Bolland, Transmetropolitan Darrick Robertson, Geof Darrow and Frank Quitely wish they were Brendan McCarthy firing on all cylanders. Man's man/woman's woman, Duke Hussy and his Kirby-god neopet headdress, Sir Slapalot are shopping on new comics day. They buy the new "Lord of Nothing" comic and we're transported into the story of the superhero who loves your trash. He even comes out of the comic (or did Hussy go in with us?) to collect the Duke's trash.

Things just keep getting weirder as strange characters try to deal with the "crossed clouds" phenomenon that's lurked in the book since the cover, a trippy green Meeny is sent out to assasinate someone and then some more weird collaging involving an alien Sgt. Rock and Superman.

Then it's Barry Allen, The Flash, except this is, "What if Brendan McCarthy created the Flash," and our tattered Allen is "flashing" through dimensions, witnessing his death and escaping the void people. And Toby, another man with great, big tits, a crazed Braniac 8, some more weird collaging and Johnny Sorrow, a John Constantine-meets-Jerry Cornelius type, saving the kids and taking out the devil for the Jesus-freaks that hold him hostage.

We're a little more than midway through the book and, some questionable photoshop collages aside, the only real weakness to any of these pieces is their brevity. A little more elbow room, and I think some of these could have really shaped up into something nice.

Possibly the strongest fragment of the bunch is the Robbie Morrison-written Batman story, of all things. McCarthy manages to perfectly capture the spirit of a silver-age Batman strip while crafting a piece about a comics fan, a forgotten comics creator, the joys of older printing processes and some disturbing imagery. There's even a bit that perfectly replicates the strange sexual allusion that would sometimes creep into these naive stories.

Things get weirder again with a four-page strip and then there's a four-pager that enlists psychadelic superheroics into a Ballardian short story. It's also only four panels, but it feels complete. We're then given images that weren't included in the book (eh hem), some character studies and even a hint as to what's been going on in this jumble of ideas and images.

"Slouch World" is probably the most traditional comic in the bunch. Two kids dress up as superheroes and go to a party thrown by a character who promised us wouldn't be appearing in the story earlier in the book. That's right, this as traditional as it gets. The kids and their increasingly tatooed busdriver meet the author in Morrison/Milligan style, but McCarthy has the balls, the old, shriveled balding balls with a combover to suggest that this comic shouldn't stop with meeting the author, the noncurious cat still has another layer to peel away.

This is a dream comic about dream comics, not about dreams. Characters take on the properties of other characters and images appear as symbols without meaning. It's a drug trip not about a drug trip but AS a drug trip. If we tripped or dreamed in comics, how far might we go? Would we find ourselves in a comic of our own creation? Would our souls become trapped in a story, a fragile cage of ourown design? Could we find ourselves in another comic book character's dreams? Would we find ourselves swallowed up into our drawing hands or would we find ourselves in a world that could be tossed out like so much garbage? Maybe we are already in such a world.

DRAWN & QUARTERLY SHOWCASE #4

I actually had to check the previous volumes of this to see how often a new one is released into the wild. Surprisingly, it appears to come out every 13 months. I would have thought every 6, but indicia's don't lie.

This is essentially the replacement series for the late, great Drawn & Quarterly anthology of the nineties. It's both thicker than the original incarnation, and slimmer than the second incarnation. It also eschews the serialization of stories and spotlights on older cartoonists in favor of presenting short stories by three (or two or four) 'young' cartoonists. 'Young,' because most of these cartoonists are at least pushing thirty or beyond). In that sense, the book is similar to Fantagraphic's Mome (again, minus the serializations), a sense strengthened this time out as two of the three featured artists are also regular Mome contributors.

The book begins with a Gabrielle Bell story that features a winsome young woman in college who seems to have lost her way. It's the sort of "is it a veiled autobiographical comic?" that Bell has been doing in Mome, although this time it focusses on painting instead of music. It's subject immediately caught my attention as it bore a strong resemblance to Martin Scorsese's underappreciated short film, Life Lesson, but from Rosanna Arquette's point of view. And with a kid. And without "Whiter Shade of Pale." The story is in full color, situating it nicely between Bell's work in Kramer's Ergo and Mome. Bell utilizes a lovely, understated palette for her understated story. Perhaps it's a bit too understated. The only character that really seems to have any real depth of character is the kid. YOu get the sense that art sensation, Frank Reinhart has an interesting backstory, but I never even stopped to wonder what makes the story's lead, Anna, such an empty vessel. She's clearly supposed to be that, but we're never given any insight into her aside from being told that she's very smart and lacking direction. The story is a nice piece for an anthology, but it lacks the "something else" that would make it a standout piece.

Martin Cendreda follows with "Dog Days." I thought Cendreda was really hitting something with his La Brea Tarpits story in the latest Mome, and this is another nice piece, but like Bell's, seems almost tangental to the actual story. It's a coming-of-age tale told about the other things happening while a serial killer is loose. There's an attempt to tie the Phillipine folk monster, the Aswang, into bits about the killer, a missing dog and the juxtaposition of a grandfather's superstitions with a boy starting to put his childish thoughts behind him, but it seems both a little too on-the-nose and tangental at the same time. It's good, but, again, not a standout piece. And certainly not Cendreda's best.

The less prolific, and Momeless, Dan Zettwoch is a creator who's art I have a strange relationship with. There's something about his art that immediately turns me off. I don't know if it's the clunky drawing, the color sense totally at odds with my own or the WPA evocation of the overall look, but I almost always dread the prospect of reading another Dan Zettwoch story. And then things get strange, because I almost always end up absolutely loving whatever he does. It even becomes difficult to see what it was that turned me off in the first place. This is a story about the great Louisville, Kentucky flood of 1934, presumably narrated by Zetwoch's own granfather. It explores the themes in Zettwoch's other stories: craftsmanship, disaster, history and diagramatic comics. He likes to look at the way things are made, particularly the way they're made by hand and he likes giving glimpses of historical details as he guides us on a tour of his subject matter. While the story is obstensibly about the great flood, it is also about a time of transition, for both Zettwoch's grandfather and the town of Louisville. In a lot of ways, it accomplishes something similar to what the other stories in this collection attempt. It presents just the right amount of details (geographic, personal and geographically personal) to suggest a certain person at a certain time in a certain place and the themes that it wants to explore. It's a neat little story, Zettwoch's grandfather cleary intends to tell a fairly simple annecdote, but is unselfconsious enough to allow these interesting ideas to come out in the telling. Zettwoch is also enough of a cartooning virtuoso to create a visual experience that complements and expands the oral history. It's a proper "showcase" of an artist more than up to the challenge of being showcased.

DON'T WORRY, IT WILL ONLY LAST TWO MINUTES

Two minutes of pleasure pointed out by the Spurge.

It's the bows and arrows panel that knocked me out of my chair.

LINK AND LOGS

Because I hate me more than I hate you, I've added more links to the sidebars. Links I can't use due to serious blockage.

Anyway, Floopie Spurge pointed out Dylan Horrocks' blog, something I never knew existed. This led me to seeking out other blogs/sites I didn't know about. I also added some things I knew about, but never got around to linking. And I updated that pesky Beat link. Oh, and I added links to friends' sites that I'd been lax about. Because I'm a terrible friend.

The Chris Mautner link contains his interview with Alan Moore. Who is going to buy Lost Girls? That's what i want to know. Will it be me? Or will it be some other sucker?

Anyway, whatever you do, DON'T check out Zack Smith and Shawn Cheng's awesome exquisite corpse blog. It's just beautifully drawn monsters fighting beautifully drawn monsters. As far as I can tell, the point of the blog is the same as the Jim Woodring blog: to make you give up any artistic endeavor you might consider undertaking, because they're doing it better than you can imagine.

Personally, I don't plan to look at it again until I'm good and drunk on Braulasco. Drunk tears hurt less than sober tears. At least, that's what I keep trying to tell your mom. OH!

Maybe I AM drunk. You'll never know.

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I might have some thoughts on The Drawn & Quarterly Showcase #4 soon. And I hope there's some good stuff out tomorrow. I'm actually out of comics. Maybe Diamond/Tokyo Pop will solve the riddle of the ungettable Planetes... Oh, I do have one thought about Volumes 2–3 of Eden: Wha hoppen?

BEER-SPONSORED WORLD RECORD

If there isn't a world record for false starts, there should be. On my mantlepiece. Earth minds Are Weak #7 has been the most false-stoppy issue to date. The was a time, when the book was going to be the first issue my heavily researched "life of Jesus" serial. Well, that didn't get further than some pages of thumbnails. Then it was going to be my hip hop comic. THEN it was going to be the first issue in my Kaiju Jugoruma serial. I actually have several rounds of thumbnails for that AND many pages pencilled and inked. But then I wanted to have a new issue for MoCCA, so I worked on several small books to be stuck in an envelope, like I did with EMAW #5. But I didn't get it done in time and many pages of THAT project lie waiting for me to complete them. I revisited Kaiju Jugoruma, but decided I needed to redraw what was done and betterfy the whole thing. In the midst of that, I came upon three short stories that just wrote themselves.

Those stories thumbnailed out pretty quickly, and I started working. After many, many days of nonproductivity, I started drawing the three books. Unfortunately, the pages I pencilled and inked were complete crap. Man more days of nonproductivity followed.

Then I started redrawing one of the stories. Things improved, even if the pages STILL looked like they were drawn with my ass after someone tore it up with a flaming, barbed wire baseball bat. Some of it's ok, but some of it just looks SO BAD.

Finished those pages, for better or worse, scanned them, and I'm currently trying to color them while my mind blanks out on what the hell color IS.

I've got two images for the front and the back of the envelope these three books will go inside (because I can't get away from that idea now). They're not bad.

It wasn't until THIS weekend that I started feeling like the longest of the three stories was going to turn out ok. I've got six pages of pencils for that done.

It will require a superhuman effort, But I think I can get this all done in time for SPX. Just Six months after completing EMAW #6. I feel like a fool. A slow-as-fuck fool.

And, aside from all the stories I haven't finished, I'm already thinking about OTHER stories I'd like to hit. So, look forward to more false starts. From the champ himself.

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So, what beer company should sponsor this world record? Does any beer company do that? If not, then I reccomend Kenny Braulasco's Own Special Brew. I haven't tried it yet, the brewmaster suggested I wait until tomorrow before tapping his hops, but I've got a sixpack in the fridge (much easier to keep it there than on my abs) and I expect it will be quite tasty.

A few years ago, the micro-micro-micro brewer made up some beer which was light and a bit fruity. Precisely the sort of thing I like streaming down my gullet. I expect this to be better, and my report on it to be a bit drunken.

Monday, August 28, 2006

TV OR DVD

I want my — I want my DVD.

When Prison Break started airing last year, I thought it was a fun little ridiculous bit of popcorn that I'd watch if I had the time and it was on, but it was never a big deal if I missed it. A guy is set up to take the fall for the murder of the Vice President's brother. HIS brother gets himself locked into the same prison with the goal of breaking the two of them out. It just happens that the crazy brother is a super genious architect who tatooed the designs of the prison onto his upper body. It's a silly premise delivered in an over-the-top, cliffhanger-a-minute fashion.

Watching the dvd of season one, I have to say that I grossly underestimated this show. It is all of the above, but it is also smarter, more clever and better acted than it really has any right to be. It's filled to the gills with some great characters, some loopy situations and some real pants' seat suspense.

Also, it has Teabag, the greatest child-molesting, sexually predatory prison-gang leader ever. Possibly my favorite evil tv character since the Mayor on Buffy.

Season 2 began last week, with the prisoners FINALLY broken out of prison, the only weak link in the cast getting shot in the head for death and a new nemesis in a genious super FBI agent.

It's fun. It's 24 with wit and charm. It's dark. It's funny. It's not The Wire, but it may be some of the best escapism on tv (until Lost comes back).

Speaking of crazy genious architects, Sketches of Frank Gehry was an interesting documentary of one of the most notorious architects working today. Sydney Pollack begins the movie by saying he has no idea how to make a documentary, and he proves it. Conversations start and stop in weird places. Claims are made without challenge. Context is less important than moving on to the next thing. In a lot of ways, the movie is like a Gehry building. It's very much in love with the architect and doesn't even stop to think that intercutting between the well-though-out arguments of a Gehry detractor and the love sonnets to uncritical artisic expression from Julian fucking Schnabel, might make the detractor's arguments seem stronger. I like many of Gehry's buildings, I have problems with many of the things he's done as well. His work is always interesting, though, and watching him work was great and even inspiring. It's a neat little thing that isn't great as a movie, but is great for giving us a glimpse of a great artist.

You should google Gehry if you're unfamiliar with his work. At the very least, check out the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Spain to see what all the fuss is about.

Speaking of fuss, Rian Johnson has come out of nowhere to write and direct Brick, a hard-boiled detective noir that follows every convention of the genre but is set in a modern highschool in southern California. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who may be the answer to the question, "Who will fill Johnny Depp's shoes now that Depp has all but given up?" breathes so much life into Brendan, the highschool private eye, that the overly stylized dialogue and Marlowe resurection of a story seem perfectly natural. This is a lively, fun, dark showpiece for some great talents. And JGL isn't alone, either. A supporting cast, led by an absolutely perfect Lukas Haas as The Pin, is great as well.

Speaking of private detectives operating in Southern California highschools, I've returned to Neptune, California and season 2 of Veronica Mars. I'm only five discs into the six-disc set, but Season 2 is such a VAST improvement over Season 1, that I now understand the love. I enjoyed the first season's main storyline, characters and look at socio-economic class warfare and racism, but I felt that many of the episodes suffered from some pretty terrible A-story mysteries. This season fixes those problems up, crafts a great season-long story, broadens the world of V. Mars, keeps giving us wonderful character moments and even makes you love an evil Steve Guttenberg. How is THAT even possible. My only complaint? Not nearly enough Wallace!

I can't wait to see how this all wraps up. Supposedly, people found this season to be too convoluted and complex, but on dvd, it just comes across as great entertainment.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

BULLET THE BLUE COMICS

100... 200... 800... catorce.

Comics read recently:

Casanova #3
This is still quite fun. I wish the interiors were as pretty as the exteriors (orange and purple beats puke green and black everyday, ask M.O.D.O.K.), but Bá's drawing is quite nice throughout. If Nick Fury, James Bond and Jerry Cornelius were ever as great as they like to think they are, they'd be Casanova Quinn. In three months, the book has gone from being a brightly lit rehashing of old super-spy stories to something that could actually surpass them. Kudos!

Dungeon: Twilight Vol. 2: Armageddon
In Vol. 1, Trondheim & Sfar took the loopy fantasy world of Dungeon and stood it on its head. The name Marvin the Red now belonged to someone else, Marvin was now The Dust King, Herbert was now The Great Khan and the planet had stopped spinning. A lot had happened in the undocumented time between Dungeon ages, but it was still great fun. In Vol. 2, the creative duo have enlisted cartoonist Kerascoet and stood the Dungeon concept on its head again. It's one thing to stop the planet's rotation, splitting the world into light and dark sides. It's another thing to break the entire planet into small, floating islands. The creators have a great time with this, forcing the characters to hop between cities, territories and countries like connections in a complex public transit system. We also get the continued themes of poorly thought-out dating and the responsibilities incurred when we try to become the thing we dream about. Oh, and religious intollerance, drug abuse and the brilliant city of the Olfs. Fun, fun, fun.

Banana Fish Vol. 1–3
Shôjo manga are Japanese comics for girls. Banana Fish is my first toe in the shôjo world. It was a massive crossover hit in Japan and has 15 volumes translated in english so far. Like most stories for young girls, Banana Fish starts off with American soldiers in Vietnam. One goes crazy and murders most of his unit. When he's finally stopped, he only says, "Banana Fish." And so begins the mystery, who or what is Banana Fish?

But, before we can answer that question, we need to jump in time to the homoerotic eighties. During the Kotch years, New York City turned into a an urban jungle of homoeroticism. Multiethnic, homoerotic gangs of pretty young boys roam the streets and war with each other over small homoerotic crimes and the desire to be the mantoys to the crimelords. The crimelords rule the city's homoerotic underbelly with their iron manlust. The homoerotic cops are all attracted to each other and the prettiest of the criminals, but they have nothing but jealous spite for the old crimelord bears that use the pretty boys for sex. It's the reemergence of Banana Fish and the visitation of a pair of homoerotic Japanese reporters that set of a major homoerotic gang war, murder, manrape, gymnastics and a strange indignation characters have when people think they look younger than they really are — or when others act older than they are. Big homoerotic fights will suddenly stop while a character will take offense at someone thinking they're younger than they really are.

Age perception is one of the major preconceptions with the book, but it in no way overwhelms the dominant feature of the characters' motivations: they are attracted to each other. Almost everything that happens in these books happens because a man loves a boy, a boy loves a boy, several men love a boy, a boy is jealous of another boy's relationship with a man and so on. It's a big homoerotic world, with about thirty of 600 pages containing female characters. The homoeroticism jumps into the river of ridiculousness and swims out into the ocean of, "YES! We get it! He's very pretty and very smart! Stop being so surprised by his beauty and intelligence! Do something stupid for a different reason, just ONCE!"

Monster Vol. 4
This series started out as a medical melodrama, exploring the politics of the modern hospital. It slowly transformed into a cross between The Fugitive and The Hulk tv shows. Like Casanova above, it looks like it's going to surpass the quality of its influences, if it hasn't already. Admitedly, The Hulk was The Fugitve concept with a twist and Monster twists it one more time. Dr. Tenma loses his job after chosing to save one patient over a higher-profile one. Unfortunately, the patient he saved has turned into a monster (not an existential concept anthropomorphized, but a serial killer). Tenma must travel through Germany, always a few steps behind the killer he feels he created. In the process, Tenma finds himself helping the disenfranchised people living along the killer's trail. The series' start was good enough to keep me coming back even if it wasn't the greatest thing in the world. By the third volume, I was hooked. The fourth ups the ante for the characters to such a degree that I think I'll be along for the full ride. It's very plot-oriented, and the characters are a bit stock, but there are enough flourishes to keep it all from getting bland. There's even the first successful attempt at a David Lynch scene I've seen in comics. It's also got me sitting on the edge of my seat, waiting for the crazy genious cop to start his manhunt.

Death Note Vol. 7
Speaking of plot-oriented comics, the latest installment in the king of all plot-oriented comics is out. I was disapointed with the way Vol. 5 seemed to toss the baby out the bathwater, storywise (even if it did have the best mantears-inducing scene in comics), but loved what the book became in Vol. 6. Vol. 7 actually goes a step further and tosses the baby's mother out on her ass as well. And then brings in a new mother, baby and some fresh bathwater. Or something. Metaphor-stretching aside, Death Note's latest is lovely to look at, fun-as-shit to read, morally deprived and takes the concepts of killer notebooks and the super geniouses it attracts to a wonderfully absurd place.It's wonderful because the absurdity all makes sense.

Drifting Classroom Vol. 1
I bought this, forgetting Marcos already did. That's ok, because it was pretty enjoyable. Once you get past the opening narration from the world's most unlikable kid and the Japanese elementary school gets teleported into a place that might be Hell, things really pick up. Lies, deceit, suicide, teachers stabbing children — it's big, sloppy melodrama, it seems rather relevant to today's world (it was originally published in the 70s) and it's fun in the way that watching little kids get maimed or killed is fun for the imagination. Best to read it while riding a train into work when you need to think of new ways to kill children. Shouldn't be read while watching news reports from any wars actually happening.

Battle Royale Vol. 1
I saw, and loved, the movie a couple of years ago. Tony Shenton reccomended the manga when I ran into him the other day. I don't know why I never thought of reading it before. If watching teachers beat small children is fun, imagine how much fun it is to read about sexed-up teenagers stranded on an island and forced to kill each other until only one survives. If I have any problem with this, it's that I already know how it all happens. I know the secret of the mysterious older kid. So, I'm not (eh hem) DYING to see what happens next, but the over-the-top cartoonishness of this manga is irresistible, and will nicely fill the voids between Death Note and Monster releases.

Eden Vol. 2–4
I've only just started reading 2, but this quiet, violent, post-apocalyptic genesis story is something else to just fall in love with.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

DICK TATERS

That never gets old. What does get old? Bill Sienkiewicz cartooning/painting projects that never fet reprinted, like the Friendly Dictators card set from 1989. How awesome would it be to have a book of these? And an updated one, too...

Thankfully, New Medievalism regular, Chris McClaren has done the hard work of posting these up digitally. Take the look, if you have any interest in some pretty awesome art and/or an interest in seeing the sort of people our government has coddled to in the past.

There's some people missing, particularly one I always thought would have made for a great card:



A lot of these guys have been deposed (either by their own people or by the U. S. after they started to get too big for their britches), some have died and a number of them have been replaced in pseudo-democratic elections. All of them are history lessons more "colorful" than you probably encountered in school.

Monday, August 14, 2006

CUT-OFF INTERNETS FOR NEW WAVE

Well, it's been done. We're not supposed to be using the internet for non-business purposes at work until a server issue is sorted out (it's only been a few weeks now...), but there's been some random jumping on just to see what's what. Today, I discovered that all usenet sites have been blocked. Apparently this means this and every blog, and many sites that have commenting software. Which means, should we ever be able to get back on the web in any reasonable fashion, I'll be effectively cut-off from most of what makes the web worth getting on.

We are a design/production/webhosting company who's employees have almost no access to the web. Wow.

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Today is "New Wave bands that started before Punk properly broke" day in my iTunes store. Or so I have dubbed it.

Was inspired to seek out some B-52s, a band that has all the sensibilities of a band I would like, but managed to be absent from my music library. I never even had Love Shack. Now I have a lot of them.

This lead me to filling out my Devo collection. I've only ever owned The Greatest Misses. I love Devo like I love you, baby, but I never got around to actually stuffing them into my box.

This then revived my desire to someday unleash Bel Biv Devo into the world. Someday.

While I pondered Mothersbaugh's version of Poison, I proceeded to acquire more Residents' albums than any human being should ever own. I doubt I'll listen to any all the way through, but it's going to be interesting when those Molemen songs pop up on the random.

Then I got a Gwar album, just to be completely contrary to myself. Take that, ill-concieved theme!

Then I returned to the theme filled out my Pere Ubu library (okay, they started too late to be considered a New Wave band that started before Punk properly broke, so I didn't quite return to the theme, but I was circling the theme like a vulture).

Finally, I managed to hit the theme on the nose so hard it spun like a top and transformed into The Red Krayola a band that formed before Punk properly broke and lasted well into the alternative era. They were apparently never really a proper psychedelic band, and they were never properly Punk, and they were never properly New Wave, and they were never properly Alternative, but they were certainly Post Punk before Punk even happened.

So, the theme went down like Glass Joe with all the Punch Out cheat codes, but it started me on an interesting journey.

Oh, I also got the K-Fed single. Brilliance never felt so good.

Oh, and GZA's Beneath the Surface.

I WANNA BE YOUR RUNAWAY

Just a short little bit (I've done five other posts this weekend, fool!) as I pause in my writeup of Banana Fish and finish this Kenwood Sauvingnon Blanc.

I have read the four collections of Runaways comics that Brian K. Vaughan and (mostly) Adrian Alphona did for Marvel, reprinted manga-size. These were quite enjoyable. Fun, 'Buffy/Angel as comics' stories about a group of kids who discover that their parents are super villains. They runaway and discover that they're all either super-powerful or have super-powerful weapons at their disposal. They then turn on their parents and attempt to bring them down.

It's smart, it's funny, it's nicely drawn (it's printed on paper that absorbs so much ink that the colors become too dark, which is a shame and a half), it's got one great character and a bunch of potential characters. It's really what a good superhero book should be.

I wasn't sure I'd read another thing by Vaughan after that awful first Y, the Last Man collection, but his factoid approach to dialogue feels a lot more authentic when applied to teenspeak, and his characters actually seem to live in a real world (despite the fact that the Marvel Universe is a lot less 'real' than the world Y was supposed to take place in). My only gripe is his overuse of " 'rents " to describe the parents. I'm sure a lot of teen-fiction writers wish they could be Joss Whedon or Amy Heckerling, but an SNL overuse until it catches on approach to writing is bothersome.

Any minor problems with the stories about these minors can easily be swept aside with one name: Alex Wilder. In Alex, Vaughan has created my favorite young adult in comics since I met Light Agami several months ago. Actually, I think I like Alex better. Alex reads like someone I know. He doesn't read like a particular person, so much as he reads like someone I could know. Sure, he's the son of super villains, and he's weathier than most people I know, but he speaks and acts like a friend. Let me take that one bit back: he does read like a particualr person, he reads like Alex Wilder. I buy him as a real person, and I bought his parents as real people.

It's a rare thing to find in superhero comics. An actual character. He's not defined by his high concept (in a book so focussed on its high concept, I'm not sure it can survive dropping that concept), he's defined by being bright, arogant, unsure, a little less funny than his friends, hiding his emotional adolescence behind his brains, his quirky tastes, his loyalty and his dicovery that he might actually be attractive as he approaches manhood.

I won't go into Alex's character arc that takes us through the first three books in this series, but it is character-consistent and sometimes heart-breaking. I hope that as other characters become more prominent in this series, that someone (I'm looking at you, Nico) becomes as fully realised as Alex.

I'm definitely on board to see that someone does.

TV NO SEE ME CHEAP & PEOPLE CRAZY

TV I can't see because I am cheap:

The Wire Season 4
Eureka with David Greenwalt as show runner
Battlestar Galactica Season 3
Metalocalypse, the new Brendan Small show.

———————————————————————————————————————

Entertainment I can see because I'm not that cheap:

Iranian President Ahmadinejad's Blog. Click on the Weird American/Swiss flag icon under him writing in the upper-right-hand corner for the English. I'm hardly endorsing his Presidency (hellooooo, Homeland Security), but it's fascinating to see an important world leader blogging, of all things. Now I wish Saddam had had a blog. Imagine it. Saddam's thoughts about Comicon 2001, cameraphone pictures of his night at the Smashmouth concert, the inevitible Springtime 2002 post, "Sorry I haven't posted in a while, real life has been taking up too much of my time. But I promise to post more often next week. Remember, it's not too late to vote in the martyrs poll."

And I missed this entertainment from a few days ago.

"30% of Americans cannot say in what year the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks against New York's World Trade Center and the Pentagon in Washington took place, according to a poll published in the Washington Post newspaper."

And 50% of Americans think Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. More people think this now than did last year. Which is impressive, since more evidence keeps proving that Iraq didn't have weapons of mass destruction. The evidence was pretty conclusive last year, but this year it's even more conclusive.

I love you America. You make me proud every day.

Oh, here we go again. U.S. Lags World in Grasp of Genetics and Acceptance of Evolution

"The study found that over the past 20 years:
* The percentage of U.S. adults who accept evolution declined from 45 to 40 percent. That's bad.
* The percentage overtly rejecting evolution declined from 48 to 39 percent, however. That's good!
* And the percentage of adults who were unsure increased, from 7 to 21 percent. That's bad.

Of the other countries surveyed, only Turkey ranked lower" Uhhh...

That's bad.

I don't think enough people look at this story, where the Vatican's Astronomer came out against Intelligent Design. This is the Catholic Church, people. The ones who only recently forgave Galileo. Pope John Paul II was on the evolution bus. Get on the bus! You're behind the Catholic church! That's how far behind you are!

Notes to America:

1. Try to remember the year we decided it was okay to be openly Muslimphobic. Even Holocaust deniers know when the Holocaust didn't happen. If you're gonna get your crazy hate on, learn two more digits: 01. Come on! You learned how to dial 1 + the area code. That's four numbers!

2. Turn off Fox News. I know, I know. It's hard to do. They're so flashy and loud. They must be right... I mean, correct. Look at it this way, drag queens are also flashy and loud, and you hate them! Then, when they try to spin U.S. (not just U. N.) inspectors not finding WMDs into inspectors possibly finding WMDs, you won't get so confused. It's hard, I know. Who can turn away from the Geraldo and O'Reilly's bedroom eyes? Who can resist Brit Hume's editorializing-as-journalism? Ooh, maybe I'll watch some now...

3. Get on the bus!

4. Greenland is losing 57.3 cubic miles of ice per year. "If the ice cap were to completely disappear, global sea levels would rise by 21 feet." East Coasters may have to move into the Heartland within your lifetime. Get ready for us, 'cause we're coming educated, gay and evolved. Your only hope may be a strange-bedfellows alliance with the robots. But they don't like cars, so beware! Beware...

Sunday, August 13, 2006

THE WIRE SEASON 3 (NO SPOIL)

ARGGHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Is it time to pronounce The Wire as the greatest television show in history yet? Yes. Yes, it is.

No show in the history of television can come close to matching the 3 seasons of The Wire.

Seriously. I have never been more angry at a show before in my life than I was after that thing happened. Seething anger. That's the only way to describe how I felt. Well, seething anger and unconditional love.

The Wire only hits me 'cause it loves me, I know. It's my fault, I shouldn'ta done that stuff that made The Wire so angry. How about I clean these dishes and make you that apple pie you love so much, The Wire? Don't worry, I'll just tell all my girlfriends I fell down the stairs or something. There, there, The Wire, momma gonna make it all right again, you'll see. I love you, The Wire. Don't ever leave me, and I'll never upset you again, The Wire. You won't even see me in the same room as Slim Charles ever.

***Shout out to Marc, as a certain magazine you work for is shown in one episode. Also, Erica Campbell is featured in another magazine shot. Google hits, google hits. Hey, the game is the game. And this is just business.***

How did they add over ten prominent characters to this beast and still keep it a) the best-cast show in television history and b) the most engaging show in television history? I don't know. I do know that the opening credits are now as long as an arm, and that the Neville Brothers performed the opening song.

I also know I hate all you HBO-ownin' motherfuckers, because you get to see Season 4 beginning on September 10. I also know I hate all you tv critic motherfuckers because you already seen all of Season 4. And I also know I hate all you HBO-ownin' motherfuckers I know don't watch The Wire, beacuse you should be watchin' it and invitin' me over yo motherfuckin' houses so's I can get my The Wire fix, punk-ass bitches.

I gonna watch all the commentaries and then probably watch all three seasons in some crazy marathon fashion. I also gotta put Season 3 in Marcos' hands, so I can say everything I gotta say. I also gotta get Kenny to watch all 36 of these motherfuckin' episodes. No way I can see anyone drunk until they see this shit. Damn.

Also, I need to buy all three seasons for my parents' biggest Christmas gift ever. And I need to figure out how to put this in the hands of everyone I know. I embarrassed the only people I can talk to about this are digital people. Real, flesh people! Hear me! If you never do anything else I ask you to do, watch The Wire! I will need people to talk to in the future, and I'm not sure it will be possible if you don't ever watch The Wire. Or have a great ass.

And, since most of you don't have great asses, you'll need to watch The Wire. If you're not sure about the quality of your ass, watch The Wire to be safe. Or, ask me to inspect your ass in person. And then watch The Wire. That ass will only get you so far.

The greatest television show in history. I say this without hyperbole. Seriously.

MUSIC BREAK MY HEAD

So, I see that Masta Killa has just released Made in Brooklyn. I bought it sound unheard since I loved No Said Date so much. Eh-hem. Wow. That was the most underwhelming album I've heard in a while. Wow. Really. Just, wow.

On the other hand, I just heard K-Fed (Mr. Spears)'s single Popozao. What did this celeb-rag laughing stock make? Well, it's actually a fun song. Po-po! Po-po! Popozoa! Popozao! I think I need to see what else this guy's got up his sleeve... Po-po! Po-po! Popozoa! Popozao! Po-po! Po-po! Popozoa! Popozao! Po-po! Po-po! Popozoa! Popozao! Po-po! Po-po! Popozoa! Popozao! In Portuguese, it means bring your ass. On the floor an move real fast. I wanna see your kitty and a little bit of titty. Wanna know where I go when I'm in your city?

Indeed.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

IF I DID THIS RIGHT

I should be the last person in the world to post these clips on his blog:

Serpentor's "Whoo Ha! (Got You All in Check)"

Destro (featuring Lil Baroness) "Got Money"

EARTH MINDS ARE WEAK #7



Wednesday, August 09, 2006

EDDY VACATIONS

Well, here it be. The 9 posts following this one feature the first-ever jam comic produced by the drunken man-meat threesome of Mssrs. Marcos Pérez, Kenneth Belasco and Justin Fox. We did it and sort of lumbered away.

Each Thursday, we've made it a point to get to gather at the local watering whole, Mercer & Barrow, under the lovely and esteemed stewadesship of Samatha something-or-other. So far, we've scored enough points to make it more of a hockey game than a soccer match.

One time, when the bar went all sausage factory behind our backs (and I still remember when it was all chocolate factory), we picked up pen and paper to produced the afore-mentioned (and a-aft-presented) jammathon.

The amateurcess of it all was simple: Kenny created a character based on hisself called The Dharmanaut. Then Kenny declared that he hated Spider-Man and everything he stands for (your guess might be better than mine what that means, feel free to hazzard one). Then we got drunk. Then we decided that the first jammie we tried on would be Dharmanaut vs. Spider-Man, winner takes all of it off. THEN we each took a piece of paper and drew a first panel. Then we all traded pages and drew a second panel. And so forth, for sooth.

After we had a bunch of terrible and nonsensicle inexquisate corpes, we tried to figure out what the story was. So, we threw on a beginning and an end.

So, here you have it. After much gentle cattle prodding, I have finally gotten up the cur rage to post our shame on the web for prophets. May they be kind and not all "end of the world"-y.

Two disclaimers:

1. We don't really hate Mark Millar. We don't even know him. Marcos is even helping to pay for his legal fees resulting from that one unfortunate incident (yes, I'm lumping them all into one charge).

2. We do really hate Mike Dawson, however. Not the fictional character on Lost, but the cartoonist who's Freddy & Me graphic novel will be coming out from AdHouse Books in early 2007.

1 & 2


3 & 4



5 & 6



7 & 8



9 & 10



11 & 12



13 & 14


15 & 16


Pages 17 & 18



Tuesday, August 08, 2006

HOT DAMS

Oh baby, I — I got what I neeEEd, but you say it's just the Wire, you say it's just the Wire. Oh baby, I — I got what I neeEEd

Down in the hole.

Watched the first episode of Season 3 at work. I've said that Season 1 may be the best season of television in history, but it took some warming up to fully appreciate it. Even after that point, Season 2 took some warming up as well. Season 3? I seriously thought HBO had changed their dvd interactivity. Surely, I was hipdeep in Episode three. No, I was just 40 minutes into 1. Den City. Seriously. It's four wheels to the ground and runnin' like the 5-O be chasin' it. Also, it may be the funniest episode yet. That's right. The War on Drugs, political corruption, recividicism, assault, police brutality, beureaucratitic incompetance, addiction, broken families, deceit, murder, prostitution, theft, poverty, suburban flight, frustration, incarceration, debate rules, public hearings, divorce, wire tapping, homelessness, juvenile deliquency — this episode is STACKED with the things that make us laugh.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

EDEN

I'm too heat-drunk for proper posting, nevermind working. I really should have bought another air conditioner.

Eden Vol. 1 By Hiroki Endo

Ah, that's the stuff. I can't find Planetes Vol. 2 anywhere, so I took a Jogamendation to read Eden (I picked up FLCL and Q-Ko-Chan as well but... brrrrr... wow. You know those kids trying to sell really expensive minis at shows full of awful, incomprehensible manga ripoff art? Yeah. That's them.)

Eden is quite lovely. I find I'm more attracted to the more representational side of manga art than the more expressionistic side. Maybe I just haven't found the right expressionists, but those books seem lazier than artistic. So, it's Death Note, Monster, Planetes, Golgo 13, Tatsumi and Hino's works and, now, Eden. The fourth volume's come out, but I've only got the first. And it's a neat first.

The story begins with a lovely, very pastoral scene of gardening. And takes a few pages before the hovercycle shows up. It's a nice little switch into a post-apocalyptic world where the human population has been all but wiped out by a skin-hardening disease. It's a strange disease, but it provides the apocalyptic scenes with a great visual of drying, cracked skins, liquified interiors and one twisted moment involving centipedes.

But it's to the book's credit that this is not a story about the horor of the disease, but the disease impacts the characters in the book's opening with an existential horror. One character is forced to deal with the guilt of the means he employed to acheive a particular end, while wondering whether that end was justifiable in the first place. The other two characters in the books opening are forced to deal with even scarier questions. For young Hannah, she must grapple with the questions of what is sin in a world with only two people. If there are only two people in the world, what is love? What does it mean to have children in those circumstances?

Of course, Hannah and Enoah aren't the only two people in the world, and the characters are vaguely aware that there have to be other people out there if the race is meant to continue, but their first encounter with the outside world is catastophic as they find themselves in the crossfire between warring factions.

The first half of the book is as much full of sadness as it is full of characters who exist outside of the story's plot even though they are the main players in that story. The friendships in the pre-apocalypse flashbacks feel real, and the small, tender moments feel less like forced characterization than they do of the all-too-brief perfect moments we remember about the people we love. Some of the action scenes are a little dificult to decipher, but they are brief and need to be a bit chaotic from the main protagonists' point of view. Their perfect world has just been shattered.

The second half of the book follows the South American travels of Elijah, identified as Enoah's son. Presumably Hannah's as well, but I don't want to guess too far into the book's future. It's twenty years after Hannah and Enoah's Eden was destroyed, but the knowledge the outsiders brought with them was never properly disemenated. Elijah is making his way towards the Andes mountains with his father's giant robot in tow while he learns how to be a man without his parents when he encounters a militia group.

There are some interesting suggestions made by these people. Why do they say the things they say? How do they know Elijah's father? What has Enoah been doing these past twenty years? Why are they trying to destroy Elijah's grandfather's organization? A cyborg woman, Sophia, proves to be the most interesting of these new characters. Existing as an intermediaty state between an Elijah who wants a girlfriend as much as he'd like to alieve himself of the problems with being human and his robot friend who desires to be more human, but can't understand certain spititual needs, she should provide an interesting counter-balance in future volumes.

Already, she and Elijah have been shown faking an emotional hardening of the skin, while melting somewhat on the inside. The difference right now is that Sophia embraces and cherishes the things that make her soft inside, while Elijah sees his emotions as a weakness.

It's a promising start to the series, and I look forward to more.

THE MURDOCH PAPERS

Daredevil: The Murdoch Papers is the last collection of the Bendis/Maleev run. It's been a strange run. I've enjoyed most of the "Daredevil's secret identity is publicly revealed" story. The idea that the revelation would cause Matt Murdoch, trial lawyer, to sue the paper that done did the revealing for libel and defamation was a pretty great one. Bendis' ability to capture the surface qualities of David Mamet's dialogue creates a wonderfully bouncy soundscape for the characters to opperate in. His decision to make Daredevil become increasingly more effective as a vigilante, but less effective as a human being was interesting as well. Bendis even took it so far as to have DD assume the role of his most hated enemy: the Kingpin of Crime.

It was all enjoyable super hero noir stuff until the creators made the strange decision to jump the story one-year later and skip the whole experience of seeing Daredevil become this new thing. We got a bit of a he-said, she said look at that year in Decalogue, but that story just turned out to be a bit of a shaggy dog tale. That story really seemed to suck the momentum out of the series, and I'm not sure I would have picked up the latest book if I hadn't been bored out of my mind at work.

In this collection, the FBI investigating Daredevil, ninja exgirlfriend Elektra, superspy exgirlfriend Black Widow and the Kingpin return to play out the endgame for this story. It's all fairly well-plotted out with the Kingpin manipulating several chess pieces (or checkers pieces...) to acheive his dual goals of freedom and ridding himself of the devil. There's a wonderfully ridiculous scene involving SWAT teams fighting ninjas fighting superheroes fighting supervilains. There's a number of scenes where Murdoch's wife keeps getting in the way of the superheroing. There's some good plot twists. There's Night Nurse.

What there isn't, after all these issues (55), is a stable of really interesting characters. There's Murdoch. The entire series is about him. We see his character mostly through others' eyes, but we never really see the filter. They're all cyphers for an answer set. Characters' feelings for Daredevil are x. Their treatment of his secret identity is y. Add some other stuff in there and solve for x and y. Then you take all the possible Xs and all the possible Ys and you plug each response into a character without really giving us more of the character.

This series, a sequel to Frank Miller, Klaus Janson and David Mazzuccheli's runs twenty years ago doesn't give us what those series did. They took the joke character of the Kingpin and turned him into a crime lord and human monster. They made Bullseye a super assasin who actually assassintated. They gave us ninja fatale Elektra. They redefined beat-reporter Ben Urich. Bendis doesn't really give us that. He transforms Murdoch, and that story is quite enjoyable and he gives us twists on old characters and gives us some new ones, but none of them seem real. None seem to have a life outside of what they think about Daredevil.

It's a good, fun book, and the ending is an interesting way to go with the story. But in the end, I'm not sure if it was everything it could have been.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

ERSTWHILE FRIENDS

Now I know how DOOM! must have felt.

Me, Marcos and Kenny have started going the outs on Thursday nights. It's our big gay night. We sit, we drink, we speak as men do. Nerd men. Marcos wanted to change the date to Wednesday this week.

I threw a mokeywrench into the plans because I had to feed some cats. But, I said I would be there at 10 instead of the usual 9. But I would rush, and try to get there sooner.

Did I get there sooner? 9:40. It would have beeen even sooner, but NJ Transit was running all trains slower to conserve electricity. They were running extremely slow. Also, leaving the office early didn't help at all. I got to NY Penn at 5:40. The next train was at 6:18. I didn't get to Bloomfield, NJ until after 7:30. Then I did cat business. Then I waited for the next Newark City Subway train (Newark's Best Kept Secret — actual slogan). The wait was long, the ride was longer. At Newark Penn, I then waited for the PATH. And waited. Then the PATH came and I took that particularly slow ride. When I got to Grove St, I called Marcos ($1 for his long distance) and dude wasn't hangin' with Kenny, dude was home and didn't want to go out. I figured Kenny was going to some standup comedy dealy he threatened us with when he felt our plans weren't concrete enough. That was the last I heard from him.

So, here I am. Home. The temperature is finally down to 89º (only feels like 98º!). I did all the above when it was hotter. I raced. I could have gone out with some other friends for drinks, but I turned them down. I could have stayed in Bloomfield and gotten lapdances all night at one of there two Go Go Bars. I could have treated myself to a fat onkin' steak somewhere when the hour was decent. But no. I raced through the very heat of Hell to be with my friends. Only to get stood up like I had been by so many women. So many.

I feel like a chump. Like Reed Richards and Namor and Tony Stark and flippin' Rama-Tut are just lounging around the Negative Zone, chuckling to themselves and I'm shaking my fist in the wind, wondering where it all went wrong.
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