Thursday, January 31, 2008

XIU XIU WINS!

WOMEN AS LOVERS

Holy crap. I am listening to the new Xiu Xiu right this very minute. And just hit the Under Pressure cover. Just before the song hit, I was thinking, "More than ANY Xiu Xiu album, this is the one that just could. not. work. on paper." No PAPER for Jamie Stewart! And now we've hit the first thing that should work on paper and they do it so that it can't work on paper.

This album is ridiculous. No twoways! All the sound collagers of the past couple years can go back to sound college, drop out and apply to sandwich college. And they can listen to the old hands do it crazy and better as the soundtracks to their back of the 7-11 days.

I haven't enjoyed a new album by an old band this much since Kid A. Not that they're the same at all (although you could make case). It's just that they A. Aren't really doing at all what they did when I fell in love with Knife Play B. they still sound like the same band (and still maintain that clear line back to 10 in the Swear Jar) C. they sound like they've been listening to everything cool that's come out in the past few years D. it's crazy. crazy.

Probably the best album of 2008. Prove me wrong.

CEDRIC DANIELS

CEDRIC MUTHAFUCKIN DANIELS!

Either you're gonna do it right, or you're not gonna do it at all.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

EMAW 10 PAGE 25 PART 2

Well, hopefully I can Frankenstein this into a page.



Now it's time to put this sordid affair behind me and move on

Monday, January 28, 2008

EMAW 10 PAGE 25... sort of

Man... this page been kickin' my ass. I was all set to do a whole bunch of pages this weekend, but I couldn't get this one out of the lame and into my car.

I finally just cut the bottom third of the page off. It was originally going to be one big splash, but it was the king of suck. So, I'll salvage some of it and add something else to the bottom. And I still got to fix some of the shit problems I left in.

Fuck. Four days with this nonsense and it's as successful as something I might've well as cranked in 20 minutes. Dammit.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

THE LAST MUSKATEER

THE LAST MUSKETEER by Jason

Ok. Despite the very heavy paper stock, the 1/16"-thick cover stock (with mock end flaps) and the square bindings, I think it's time to call Jason's color 'graphic novels' what the really are: ultra-deluxe comic books.

Which isn't a bad thing. They're phenomenally more expensive than your average comic book ($12.95), but they're always entertaining and well-crafted. Sometimes the stories feel a little truncated at 46 pages, but in this case 46 pages feels just about right. I mean, the world probably doesn't need more than 46 pages of a Musketeer still alive in the modern age and car-jacking a space ship to Mars in order to disable an interplanetary laser and thwart a green-skinned invasion, or does it?

Probably not, but the world does need lots of deadpan absurdist melancholy black comedies with art as exquisitely attractive as Jason's. It's nice to see that he's cranking these out and still able to hit an occasional homerun.

The book isn't genius. And it doesn't have quite the lunatic inspiration that fueled The Left Bank Gang, but it doesn't have quite the "I just don't see why" factor that I Killed Adolf Hitler had either. It's essentially Flash Gordon with a loser Musketeer, presumably because Jason wanted to use a Musketeer... and he's a loser because all his heroes are losers.

This was the funniest book he's put out in a while though. There are a lot more existentialist gags (the Ming-like emperor is the source of several) and it feels like Jason cut loose a little bit more with the art. He's not as worried about replicating Paris in every detail, and approaches many of the Martian scenes with a slightly more suggestive style.

All in all, another fun book from Jason.

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NO FEAR SHAKESPEARE

I never heard of the No Fear Shakespeare series (Shakespeare on the left, contemporary english on the right), but it's a pretty great idea. Even better?

Matt Wiegle No Fear Romeo and Juliet Graphic Novel.

I'll take 216 pages of Wiegle in Shakespeare form any day.

FSSMTW 8: USAGI YOJIMBO #109



USAGI YOJIMBO #109

This is going to sound awful, but I've never read a Usagi Yojimbo comic before. Not a single one in 24 years. To make matters worse, this appears to have been the last issue in the latest story.

I think the funny animal aspect was always a deterent. As was the samuri subject matter (samuri are like kryptonite to me). But the biggest problem has always been the question of where to start. The book is in its third volume, the character is on its fourth publisher, the collections remain split between two...

Clearly, though, the answer was to just pick up an issue and try it out. The whole thing is good fun, even if I'm confused about one character with three names (or is it two characters, one with two names?) but this is issue 109 of the third vollume. That there was only one element that confused me is pretty remarkable.

Sakai is pretty well known for his clear storytelling and his expressive figures, but I was surprised at how well he manages to make (what I assume is) his rapidiograph line look so lively. It's not that it jumps and skips about really loosely, but that there's a confident speed in all of his many curves (most of the shapes in Sakai's drawings are organic).

I also rather enjoyed the controlled chaos of his fight scenes. At a quick glance, those pages look like a mess. But in reading the panels, you can make out every form, every distinct character. And this is in one-third panels with seven or so characters fighting with swords.

It's pretty enjoyable stuff. Exactly the sort of thing I want from a comic book. I look forward to buying issue #110 and actually following a story from start to finish.

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

ANOTHER DAY DONE

Well, that was funny for almost as long as it took to do... I still want to say something about a couple of the other comics I got, but I think I'll save that for tomorrow. I still have to read one more before I decide on it. I'm not doing anymore negative one's though. I think that Snaked and DMZ failed in kind of interesting ways, but I'm getting tired of writing lists of things that don't work. Especially since I probably haven't been very clear on the 'whys'.
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It occurred to me that I am doing all this while working on the most procrastinatey of pages: one of those big cityscapes with all the perspective lines that I still don't think I do very well. Or, at least, I don't think I quite get at what I'm trying to. This one's closer, but still not quite there.

Anyway, back to work. I want to get started on page 26 by the time I go back to the office.

FSSMTW 7: THE GOON #20



Several months ago, Dark Horse put out a 25¢ issue of The Goon to get people to try it out. I did, and wasn't all that impressed. It was well done, but there was nothing all that special about it (except for Eric Powell's great cartoon stylization). Still, it was always in the back of my mind to try it out again. This week I did.

This was fantastic. It's extremely funny in a way that actually reflected the sense of humor my friends share (a few gags reminded me of Carl is the Awesome). The humor peaks pretty early with One-Armed Ham Man, but a living dead magician and the relationship between The Goon and his partner provide plenty more laughs.

The art is exceptionally strong with a polished, Harvey Kurtzman horror vibe. Nearly everything is composed immaculately, is uncomplicated and dances like a Warner Bros. cartoon. Dave Stewart moves away from the exceptional flat coloring he normally provides (Hellboy, Umbrella Academy) for a painterly, handmade feel (which I think is meant to evoke the coloring Powell used to provide himself).

If the contents of the 25¢ issue matched this one, I probably would've jumped on the Goon bandwagon a lot sooner. As it is, it seems that I picked a good time, since the series is now going monthly.

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FSSMTW 6: NEW WORLD ORDER #1



NEW WORLD ORDER #1

When I saw the cover for this, I thought, "Hello! I'm your target audience! I love conspiracy theories and secret histories and stories written around them!"

Then I read the thing. The first thing that will strike you when you open the book would be the stiff, sub-Jerry Ordway art if the overly enthusiastic coloring didn't blind you first. Someone's got too many effects pedals hooked up to their photoshop. Once your eyes get accustomed to the first page, there is this cute swarm of miniature alligators to contemplate. Oh, and some Mulder chasing a lame looking alien in a hoody. Then he kicks the alien through a tombstone and I'm wishing they made a Mystery Science Theater for comics. The alien fights back by pushing our hero's face into an engraving for Corinthians 15:26. Vaguely allusive epistles just aren't used enough as weapons anymore. Then the riding pants/leather overcoat government doctor descends from his army-issued ufo and takes care of it from here.

Four pages in, and I was punching myself in the leg. Then the Mulder guy goes to talk to the only people who will believe his story, his brothers: a U.S. senator and a Catholic Bishop (they're the ones covering up the conspiracy our guy is trying to uncover)! They argue and the the the guy's kid becomes a teenager and learns about his destiny and then he becomes an adult and some sort of crazy cult leader espousing ridiculous things about the third army revolution against the opposing forces of fascism and Latin phrases on money. Oh, they also get in 'unknown metal' implants, the Pleiades, Jesus: anti-conspiracy fighter, Buddha: anti-conspiracy fighter, psychic brain bolts and appearances by actual conspiracy nuts!

Then there's the wicker men. Because nothing makes for great conspiracy stories like strawmen villains (ask Ayn Rand!). There's a Homeland Security spokesperson who actually says, "Although the group's motives are still unclear and their actions have been of a non-violent nature, the administration considers these incidents acts of terrorism for the danger they pose to the emerging new world order fighting for democracy across the globe." Whew! That's a mouthful. It's also very self-aware for evil (although we have to ignore the fact that the group actually IS violent). There's even a capitalist explaining how to use "shopping malls, credit card debt, endless wars and a dying planet" for the benefit of greed! Who he is and who he's talking to on the phone is never revealed. There's no time for that! We need to go to a rave where the good guy cult is recruiting children and performing brain surgery on spies.

What is the book even about? Revolution! Well, no. It seems to be about, "How come no one else can see the real war going on? I can!" This is a visually ugly book with some of the worst cliches of a cliche-ridden genre trotted out as plot, and plot used as character.

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FSSMTW 5: JACK STAFF SPECIAL #1



JACK STAFF SPECIAL #1

This is the first color comic of Paul Grist's I've read. I realize that Jack Staff has been published in color for 13 issues (however many years that's been), but I never actually picked those up, even though I thoroughly enjoyed Kane and absolutely loved the first Jack Staff series (bucking critical consensus, I prefer Jack Staff).

This is the book that's meant to inaugurate the now-monthly Jack Staff series and it's a fun book. It doesn't play with time or use many of the narrative tricks Grist usually employs, which was a little disappointing. But this might be because the story spans a thousand years for a bit of shaggy-dog super villainy.

Visually, Grist continues in his Toth-does-Eisner style of pen work and chiaroscuro with a great gag/design for Molachi the Immortal's present-day appearance (and the Mignola-esque Nagarik is also pretty sweet). I'm not sure what the color adds to the whole affair, but it's a nice, bright, flat scheme that's appropriate for this fun story.

Paul Grist fails to disappoint, yet again!

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FSSMTW 4: DMZ 27



DMZ 27

This was a fill-in issue, a 'done-in-one', so it seemed like I'd lucked out as this was probably a good one to pick up. It was not.

First you have to look past Wood's "this is the dystopian future I always wanted!" set up. Then you have to look past the brush-pen art from wannabe Paul Pope/'check out my latest contribution to Meathaus' Nathan Fox. Then you have to look past the first half of the issue which is all dj drama at the club. Has there ever been a more compelling type of drama than dj drama?

Then you have to look past the obvious mistakes, like when one character asks another if they'd ever seen so many white people, and we haven't seen any!* And won't for a few more pages. Then there's the casting of Brooklyn-style neighborhood jingoists as heroes. Then there's the plot to blow up the club to generate album sales for the recorded dj set! Seriously!

Add in several speeches of philosophy garnered from slam poetry. And a tough-as-nails chick from the Upper West Side who says, "Yo, you got something for me? Or you just wanna stare at my perfect fuckin' tits all night?"

This was terrible.

*Well, I think might've been two white people on the previous page... it's hard to tell. Just about everybody looks like 95 year-old slasher victims and they're all colored brown (or green).

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FSSMTW 3: FEAR AGENT 18



FEAR AGENT 18

This was pretty good! For some reason, even though this was part two of a five-part story and issue 18 overall, Rick Remender and Jerome Opeña allot a couple pages at the start to actually explain the set up. In fact, the first half of the book could've been a solid (if not wholly original) first issue.

There's really not much original for a sci-fi action comic happening here at all: years ago in the future, earthlings were sold into intergalactic slavery; some are free and being space rogues, some are looking for a new world to call their own, some are space pirates, some get caught up in gladiatorial combat for the amusement of Roman Empire-styled technologically advanced space monsters... they pull out every cliche you can think of — BUT the dialogue is fun, the voices are distinct enough, the art is reminiscent of Jim Lee when he was good (Punisher War Journal, his early Uncanny X-Men), there's one cool jet-pack scene, and I suspect the ending was actually earned if you'd been reading the series to date and following the characters. It's a well-executed romp through genre conventions.

It's a light entertainment with no pretensions beyond that. A sort of late-eighties Marvel version of a Metal Hurlant comic. I don't think I'd want to buy a thick trade of the previous issues anytime soon, but I'll buy issue 19 when I want my next comic book read.

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FSSMTW 2: SNAKED #1



SNAKED #1

Imagine Johnny Ryan and Steve McNiven doing a mashup of My Super Sweet Sixteen and Oz with the cast of The West Wing. That's how I felt.

You can almost see the pitch in this one. Black comedy/supernatural horror about political advisers working for the Clintons and Bush in the first eight months of 2001 with plenty of sex and prison violence. Combine that with some lively pen and marker drawing and a guy dying of book stuffed in mouth in the first six pages and you've got your green light.

But... The story jumps back and forth from September 10 to August 5 to September 10 to April 19 to April 23 to May 31 to September 10 to May 31 to August 17 to September 10 to September 12... all for no discernible reason. It just jumps to scenes with different characters in different situations like an ADD storyteller. You get to the end and I think you're supposed to be overwhelmed by all the revelations, but the whole thing is revelations with no mystery. He's crazy! He's in prison! He's a crazy prisoner! They were both coworkers! For the Clintons! She was cheating on the other guy! With the one guy! All along! And he's a Republican!

The cumulative effect should be, "huh?" But it's not. Because there's more. There's the coloring that no one thought to test on paper before printing. It's all percentages of red and green and plates where the two overlap giving you a dark brown. The blacks print a little light and the colors print so dark that the whole thing becomes more of a challenge to read through mud than it should be.

And it shouldn't be a challenge to read. The time skipping and constant revelations about characters you don't know and the coloring make it one, but (and I can't believe I'm saying this) the spiritual vacancy of the whole thing, the sheer ugliness and depravity of humanity on display in this book... pretty much are a deterrent for working through the challenge. I think the authors are aiming for this ugliness, but there's no temperance to it. Nothing that the ugliness is set against. It's all rictus grimaces and prison rape and penis eating and and leering doctors and blood splatter that hangs in the air for several minutes and racist humor and unnecessary giant erect nipples and then the World Trade Center gets hit with planes.

I don't know. I needed to take about five showers after reading this.

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FSSMTW 1: FELL #9



FELL #9

I'm happy Fell exists. Mostly because it led to Casanova's existence, but also because it can be a nice little throwaway book on it's own. Fun enough to read when a new issue comes out, but not the sort of thing I need a big fat collection of. A comic book.

The best thing about Fell is that the last two issues have actually been the best in the series so far. The story actually fit in the the 16 pages without feeling too slight or like it was missing significant pages. There's a scene that uses a stickman in a door to suggest the location and actions of an unseen hostage-taker from Detective Fell's position that is a pretty clever use of comics. And the hostage crisis had a nice little twist to it. I do very much like Templesmith's drawing. His all-too-thin linework is far more sinewy and animated than most ligne claire tends to be. And his rotting potato-faces manage to be expressive and adorable. I think some Fell stuffed dolls are in order. The ending was a little too "What Would Michael Moore Do?" and Templesmith's coloring still looks a little too much like radioactive ooze, so it's not all perfect, but it fills a bit of the morning commute perfectly.

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FRANK SANTORO STOLE MY THUNDER WOMEN

When did I first think this was a bad idea?


As soon as I thought of it, really.


And, at every stage, the idea seemed worse and worse.


But I kept developing it anyway...





the Frank Santoro Stole My Thunder Women logo:




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Friday, January 25, 2008

EMAW 10 PAGE 24




Man, who let that girl girl her hands in the Romita gel?

That puts me one page away from my January mini-deadline: finish through page 25 before February. Now, I think I really ought to see how far I can push it. Page 30 before February?

This also puts me at Page 7 in my 100 Pages in 141 Days Challenge.

I'm also now 1 week smoke free! I should celebrate. Smoke'em if you got'em!

I think I'll write about all those single issues I bought this week in a little feature I call Bitey Handy Feedy. Or Stone Glass House. Or Frank Santoro Stole My Thunder Women!

Also, I'm pretty close to having thoughts about more albums of 2007. Get those while they're temperate.

I CAN'T REMEMBER WHAT BLOG I'M ON!

I'm about two thirds of the way done with page 24, and I don't see any reason why I shouldn't have it online tomorrow night... because I have no life! Hmmm... you know what this is? World's smallest cello quartet. With thumbs for this guy.

Anyway, since getting it up tomorrow shouldn't be hard (snort!) I'll be Johnny 7 pages in seven days in the 100 pages in 141 days challenge.

I read another one of those comics, and it made me realize that an awful comic done with gusto beats an awful comic done without any day. This one was begging for someone to create a Mystery Science Theater Comic Book. I don't know how you'd do it... maybe if you made it extra huge? 12"x 20"? Alright, I'm gonna read one or two more and then go to bed.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

EMAW 10 PAGE 23 AND EMAW 8 REVIEW!

Page 23 and I abandon the gutters for a day, like that movie about the guy and the other guy:




HEY! Have you checked out The Pulse today? If you had, perhaps you noticed this article. Chris Beckett's For Your Consideration is always a good read, but this week's feature is a ridiculously generous piece on Earth Minds Are Weak #8: Kaiju Jugoruma Chapters 1-4 (a 15-Page Preview of which can be found HERE).


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In other news, after enjoying my night with nothing but actual comic books so much (Speak of the Devil, Fell, Jack Staff), I went out and bought a bunch more! New World Order #1, Usagi Yojimbo #109, DMZ #27, Fear Agent #18, 2 Guns #5, The Goon #20 Killing Pickman #2, and Snaked #1.

I've only read one so far... it was really awful (although you could see how it was almost really good).

COMIC BOOKS

Well, I just have to do some flower patterning on Page 23 of Issue 10, but I think I'll take a break now and read more comic books.

The only things I bought today were Speak of the Devil, Fell and the Jack Staff Special. All honest-to-goodness comic books. No mangas, no graphic novels, no anthologies, no squarebounds, no bookstore placement, no nothing but comics.

It did run me $9.00 for three comics... which seems insane, but I don't think I've purchased just three comic books at one time since... the nineties?

And back then, you could get an entire line-wide super hero crossover for a dime and still have enough change for a Magic the Gathering starter deck.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

EMAW 10 PAGE 22

Page 22! that's 5 pages in the 100 pages in 141 days project! And there's still a lot of night left. This also puts me on my way to my minigoal of hitting Page 25 before February.



I think Marcos is going to release some big, unexpected news soon. Hopefully over at the Cliff Face site. Maybe this week?

In case you're betting on the news, the serious money is on us both being pregnant. That's right: Manspecting.

It's either that, or we're both going to play in the ultimate game of danger and thrills... starring in a Terry Gillaim movie. Honestly, can that guy ever get a break? Is Sub-Zero on his production staff? Is Buzzsaw a grip? Is Dynamo a gaffer? Is Captain Freedom an Assistant Director? Will Richard Dawson buy his next script for a dollar? Have I taken it too far?

Ohh! Fireball! I forgot FIREBALL! Um... is Fireball a costume designer?

SPEAK OF THE DEVIL 4 of 6

SPEAK OF THE DEVIL 4 of 6

HERNANDEZ!!!!!

Where's an animated .gif of hick fist-shakin' when you need one.

Grip. Sloth. Chance in Hell. Speak of the Devil. I really thought this —THIS— would be the non-Palomar series that didn't wildly go off the rails at the halfway point. So, I've been waiting since issue 3 hit the stands to find out whether things would go all to crazy halfway through.

Then we crossed the threshold and... BAM! WHAT???? Seriously. For a cartoonist so visually fixated on everything between collarbone and crotch, he really hates middles. He just has no interest in that connective tissue that keeps this comic you've been reading the same comic all the way through.

And, almost as if to drive home Beto's distaste for middles, the big transition happens on page 10 of this 20-page comic. Right there. Wha hoppen?

That's not to say that the new status quo isn't interesting. And it isn't to say that this issue doesn't have some of the best sequences in the series so far: the opening scene that resolves the previous issue's cliffhanger is splendidly choreographed, the visceral Clockwork Orange/Natural Born Killers assault is as disturbing as it is almost pornographically gory,the gymnastic floor exercises make for one of the sexiest pages Beto's done in a long while and the mask-dissolve/montage blend page is mesmerizing (even if it's hard to tell if it's there just to be visually neat or if there's a meaning to be read in it... and that makes me wonder if the meaning is so personally codified that meaning can't be gleaned from it).

I'd like to think that there's a reveal coming in the next two issues. One that finds a relationship between the explorations of voyeurism and taboo desire with the extreme violence. Obviously, one CAN be found. Thematically. But will there be anything from a story or character perspective. Something that explains how Val, Linda and Paul went from page five to page seven and then to page 10. But I'm not sure there is a reveal coming. I'm not entirely convinced that Hernandez is trying to iron that kink out of his stories, because it's starting to become a sort of latter-day motif.

I'm sure the rest of Speak of the Devil will be great. I'm sure this new comic will be full of all the things I expect to see in a Beto comic (including Fritzi... when the hell does Fritzi show up?), but I just don't know about the series as a whole. Still, I've said it before, and I'll say it many more times (I'm sure) that a Gilbert Hernandez comic that doesn't completely work is still a hundred times better than many that do.

The one question I expect we'll get some answer to is the one that might be the most interesting: how do they decide who wears the mask?

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4 OF 100 IN 141

So, 4 pages done in my 100 pages in 141 days. I'll probably finish the next page (page 22 of EMAW 10) tonight, but won't scan it until tomorrow. I might have another page done tomorrow, but won't scan that.

SO, if things go right, I'll be at 6 pages in 6 days when I go to bed tomorrow. YAY!

Also, I am far less murderous today than yesterday. I think the withdrawls are starting to subside slightly. We'll see if I wake up tomorrow with less of my lip chewed up and bleeding.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

!!! — MYTH TAKES

!!! — MYTH TAKES

I never got into !!! when they first started. I admit that the idea of a slightly more disco-y disco-punk band back when the music world was littered with Brooklyn/London-endorsed disco-punk bands simply didn't appeal to me.

But I've finally given Three Exclamation Points a chance (I won't pronounce it AckAckAck or whatever), and my first reaction was, "yeah, that's sorta what I expected." And now, however many listens later, they still sound pretty much like what I expected — at certain times more than others. But what I really didn't expect though, was how much this would grow on me.

Now, by the time the My life in the Bush With Ghosts intro to Bend Over Beethoven comes on and I've already worn out the knees of my Bang Bang pants, the feather boa is in tatters and platform heels are worn down to flats. And that's not even the dancingest song on the album! In fact, it's much more of a psychedelic trip. A great mushroom dance song. That's not very disco OR punk.

Still, I've been built up by several fun, forgettable fluff tracks and now I'm letting my body stretch and contort around the studio and I'm ready to get my freak on. It's a nice workout. A sex aperitif of an album. Not a get ready for the down and dirty, so much as a get ready for legs in the air hootin' and hollerin, fall off the bed, and laugh when your neighbors yell through their ceiling sex.

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BARONESS — RED ALBUM

BARONESS — RED ALBUM

Competing for best album of the year HAS to be Baroness' Red Album, a serious addition to the new alternative metal scene.

It starts off disarmingly — nearly 4 minutes are spent on what sounds like Van Halen's contribution to the post-rock scene with the noodley guitar, rolling drums and Rush chord changes. Then the whole sound suddenly gets Mastadon big and the nu-metal meets emo wailing hits (old-school emo... more Rainer Maria than mall goth).

And the whole thing builds from there, songs drift between tracks, make radical changes in the middle of tracks as the great big glacier of Baroness cuts and etches its way through the sonic landscapes all the while picking up whatever it doesn't crush. Southern rock, prog rock, arena rock... it adds it, carries it, changes it, crushes it.

It's muscular rockandroll, it isn't afraid of exploring long, thematic instrumental passages (sometimes, dirge n' crunchy, sometimes noodley and masturbatory); it's epic and it's personal. There's catharsis in the screaming and some of the playing is introspective... but the lyrics are nearly impossible to understand. It's like an all-purpose wallow or get it off your chest album.

It's too Guns 'n' Roses to be Yes, too Rush to be Van Halen, too Pink Floyd to be AC/DC and too Motorhead to be Radiohead... but it's really all those things in some weirdly seamless, absolutely fun album, pretty much summed up in Cockroach en Fleur (even the title embodies the silly contradictions), the strongest and most varied while sounding the most consistent song on the album.

The only real misstep on the album is the closing 'hidden track' (oh how you novelty has worn off, hidden track!). It's close to 12 minutes of nothing with a quick little country jam in the last few seconds. Why go out on such a lame note with so little lame to speak of before that?

That waste aside, this is an AWESOME album.

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EMAW 11 PAGES 7-8

More MURDER! Or SET UP TO MURDER!


Monday, January 21, 2008

WU-TANG CLAN — 8 DIAGRAMS

WU-TANG CLAN — 8 DIAGRAMS

This album isn't horrible. It's not great either. Some of it it overrated (there's actually less excellent rapping on Campfire than bad smapling) and some of it is underrated (take Ghostface's bit out of The Heart Gently Weeps and it's not bad at all).

Take It Back: Ghost is great here. U-God isn't — but he IS having fun, and that's something Wu forgets all too often.

U-God is also having fun on Get Them Out the Way Pa. Masta Killa sounds really uncomfortable. And he will throughout the entire album. What happened to that guy?

And what happened to RZA? Never the strongest MC, but he used to be ok. Now he's ridiculous. Stick to just beats if you're gonna rap this way.

Unpredictable is almost all awesome except for that chorus? Who is that? What is that? I can't even find the song on some other tracklistings. Rushing Elephants either (which is also pretty good). But that's the thing with this album. Almost every song could at least be good, but there's some awful chorus, or Ghostface singing, or RZA rapping, or Masta Killa getting woken up from a coma. Look at Wolves. U-God is there to kill. Meth is there to kill. GZA is there to at least try to hold it together, but George Clinton ruins the whole thing with his senile stoner bizniz.

There's nothing here that's going to challenge 36 Chambers in greatness. There's a lot of Method Man, who seems like he knows he's due for a comeback. There's not nearly enough GZA or INS. There's way too much RZA and Masta Killa. Too many bad skit/samples. WAY too much George Clinton and other people on choruses.

This is only the first half of the album, but the second half about Guns and RZA's dirgelike monologuing on Allah and everyone surprised that Ol Dirty is dead and some dude (Gerald Alston) singing some stuff for minutes before anyone raps... and it's all hard to pay attention to the whole of it's nearly 70 minutes.

Once again, the Wu has returned and they haven't saved hiphop at all. They just kept the lame going.

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JACK STAFF

Jack Staff fan art.

Doing a complete disservice to the character and work of Paul Grist, I spent all of five minutes on the drawing. It's taken me longer to post about it than it did to draw it. Still, it's not that bad!

ALCEST — SOUVENIRS D'UN AUTRE MONDE

ALCEST — SOUVENIRS D'UN AUTRE MONDE

Before trting to decide if SOUVENIRS D'UN AUTRE MONDE is the best album of the year or not, I first have to decide if it's even better than Jesu's Conqueror — which I'm not sure was the best album of 2007 yet.

The similarities are striking. Both bands are working in a beautiful, bottom heavy/ethereal top, wall of sound straight from My Bloody Valentine if they turned into a doom/black metal band by way of Neurosis and the post-rock, ambient metal bands.

It's weird to think about shoegazer and metal working so nicely together, but that's what Smashing Pumpkins tried to do. It's burried in a lot of Nine Inch nails as well. But Alcest have replaced the Cheap Trick/KISS influence of the former and the Ministry/Front 242 influence of the latter with... Godspeed You Black Emperor, Berlin-era Bowie, or any of the post-Eno soundscape artists.

So, this is similar to Conqueror, but where does it diverge? It uses more female voice (like Jesu's more fragmented Lifeline), it's almost entirely in French (which works a million times better than it reads on the screen), the drums are sometimes more pulse-like. The album cover is awful and looks more like a lame description of the sound than actually reflects the sound.

The whole thing is ridiculously epic, with swirling, superfast guitars on top of big, melodic guitars on top of guitars running through a hundred thousand distortion pedals, on top of thunderous bass, on top of huge, splashy cymbals, on top of pounding drums — and then breaking into quietly dueling accoustic guitars and snare brushes before rushing into absolutely ginormous sweeping distortion.

Maybe it's the Pixies with just a little less rock 'n' roll. Actually, that's an almost perfect way to describe the fifth song on the album, Sur l'autre rive je t'attendrai (On the other shore I will await you). It's the Pixies with a little less swagger and a little more self-importance. A little less dirty and a little more "next stop, enlightenment."

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BJORK — VOLTA

BJORK — VOLTA

Remember when Bjork was awesome? Debut: awesome. Post: Awesome. Homogenic: Awesome. Then came that movie, and the anti-awesome Vespertine. Then it was Medúlla, an album that replaced awesome results with interesting process. And now we have Volta.

It starts off strong enough, with the Post-worthy, quirky dance beat of Earth Intruders. At least, the first 4:35 of Earth Intruders is fun before turning into a minute and a half of found sounds (foghorns, seagulls and boats). And that's where it would all fall apart if classic Bjork Wanderlust didn't follow. Ok, we can forgive the stupid boats, because we've waited about a decade for this Bjork to return. Skittery drums, blown out gravel bass, horn loops and singing about not sitting still. Bjork in a can!

But someone shook the can and it all fizzed out after that. Everything is flat — at best — after Wanderlust. At worst, some of it is godawful. You're begging for boat sounds when the honesty-in-advertising Dull Flame of Desire starts. It's a duet with some Antony Hegarty(?), a bunch of horns and Brian Chippendale adding ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to the song. If you get Chippendale for drums or art, you're looking for something specific. This is like MY drums. And then there's Hegarty... who might have the single most annoying voice ever recorded. hE aCtUaLlY sInGs LiKe ThIiIiIiIiIs.

Innocence gets us back to fun and weird until I See Who You Are come on with no rythym, no structure, just disparate textures working against one another for a slow, long mess. Vertebrae By Vertebrae and Pneumonia get us even further away from actual songs, like the actor's game of slowing Happy Birthday into an unrecognizable string of sylables.

Then we get back to a clubby sound with Hope. "What's the the lesser of two evils? If a suicide bomber made to look pregnant kills her target or not." It might be possible to sing that line without sounding completely ridiculous. Maybe it Bjork had at least tried to find the beat? At least it would've helped. I can guarantee you that the greater of three evils might just be this song. Have you ever seen a "news" report about a balding, middle-aged white man trying to connect with his kids by rapping about racial equality and the need to brush your teeth? Bjork dives in, head-first, without looking to see if their's water in the pool. Or if there's even a pool there at all.

Even the half-hearted industrial clubbish Declare Independence can't avoid being some sort of battle cry to Iraqis who just need to "make (their) own flag" and "ignore the patronizing" of the "damned colonists." And then refrains of "raise your flag. higher. higher." for about two minutes.

The album ends with a return of Antony Hegarty and about six overlapping near-melodies that have nothing to do with one another. It's like being punished for listening to the whole album.

I always bought Bjork albums without even thinking twice if I should. Even when things didn't work out well, her missteps were always more interesting than a lot of other people's safe successes. Not every song on Debut or Post is perfect. Homogenic is more consistent, but lacks that serious punch. Vespertine is at least listenable. Medúlla is accapella computer music, for crissakes!

But Volta is 70% unlistenable. These aren't interesting failures, these are just failures. I'm actually kind of angry at this album, it's so bad. That's not even a remotely rational response at all. It doesn't even seem like a proportional response. But I'm actually angry at this album.

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2 HOURS TO 72

In 2 hours, it will have been 72 hours since I last smoked a sweet sweet sweet cigarette. That's supposed to be when 90% of the nicotine has left the body and the worst of the symptoms of withdrawl start to subside.

2 hours for the worst to be over. And then it's only about 11 days before I actually start feeling good!

I could run down to Al Halaal right now and feel better in two minutes. I bet I could get there in less than two minutes. I could feel better in 90 seconds. And not just better. Not just feel like the worst has subsided. Not just actually good. BUt I could feel fuckin' AWESOME. In 90 seconds.

OR I can wait 2 hours and 11 days.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

$2,600

$2,600 a year. I need to keep reminding myself of that. That's like a self-published print-run. $2,600 a year.

TRANSMISSIONS FROM THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS DIMENSION

On my grandmother's old tv, she'd watch soap operas all day. Something — the cathode ray tube? — was wrong and every object had a ghost image. Anything that moved might carry several ghosts. It was like watching a superfast world slowed down so we could understand it.

I'm not entirely trustworthy, right now — I'm not right in the head. Maybe I should've tried the nicotine patch. I'm not sure I should be thinking at all. I finally had to stop pacing. I've been pacing for nearly three hours. It gets exhausting. I was trying to draw something when the page started warping in on itself and the ink lifted right off the page. I've been dreaming heavily all weekend. Much more vividly. When I'm awake, sound is reverberates in my skull. The high-pitches are nearly intolerable. Anything overly repetitive is just bouncing back and forth like an insane super ball. Anything high-pitched and repetitive is giving me insight into the mind of serial killers. Furniture keeps getting in my way. Light is shakey. Everything has a ghost. A phantom answering machine is floating above the actual answering machine. There's another computer monitor in the corner of my eye. Maybe Shintoism is the religion of withdrawl.

EMAW 10 PAGE 21

I do it Eisner style. I do it Cosmo style. I give you Justin Fox's GlamourPuss!



I could REALLY use a cigarette. I'm starting to wonder if I even had a reason for quitting...

I've got so much nervous energy, I did three loads of laundry. And then I folded all my newly clean pants and boxers. And hung my shirts. And then I paired and folded my socks.

I feel like a whole new man. A man who folds socks. A man who folds socks when he could be having a cigarette. I don't like this man.

I need something to make me laugh. Make me laugh, internet!

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Thank you, internet. How did people ever quit smoking without you?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

PRODIGY — RETURN OF THE MAC

PRODIGY — RETURN OF THE MAC

Let's get a quick one out before 2007 is a distant memory.

I've bought some Mobb Deep in the past, always expecting them to be good at all. Always forgetting that they rarely are. When I heard about Prodigy's solo album, and people were saying this was the big Mobb Deep comeback, I fell for it all again. A mediocre track here or there (Nickel and a Nail is pretty good) does not make a great album. Prodigy continues to be the dullest, least creative and unflowingest of all the East Coast rappers. I'm tired of listening to this.

Labels:

EMAW 10 PAGE 20

40% done! I'd like to get 50% done before the end of the month. All part of my 100 Pages in 141 Days to MoCCA Speedgavadanza.





Some subjective backgrounds to take us out of this chapter. It's the Mambo No. 5 of pages with a little Eisner by my side and a little Steranko something something. Although he wasn't the first to use the technique, Oliver Stone was the first I heard to to give it a name. He used backscreen projection for his subjective backgrounds in Natural Born Killers.

First thought of the day:

Are all non-smokers this irritable all the time? Is that why no one likes you?

Second thought of the day:

I can no longer tell the difference between my neighbors' love of football or their dogs' lonliness. It all sounds like the same high-pitched wail. Touchdown or starvation — you make the call.

Friday, January 18, 2008

EMAW 11 PAGES 5-6

LAST SMOKE

So, I quit again. Like an hour ago.

The good news is, I'm still drawing. The bad news is, I'm ready to kill you.

If you're looking for more good news, you probably deserve it. The killing, I mean.

Anyway, here's some PERFECT MURDER. Except without the funny or the murder...


Thursday, January 17, 2008

MARCOS GIVES GOOD COLOR

Marcos colors some Kaiju Jugoruma from page 18 of EMAW 10:

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

EMAW 10 PAGE 19

Nearly at the 40% mark! I just finished two pages of something I won't be blogging about for a long time — I won't even be scanning them until the end of next month. But, in the meantime, I have pages done from the weekend that I'll be putting up:


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

BACK AGAIN FOR ANOTHER TIME

Man.

Never predict a weekend full of extreme blogging. If you do, the internet will surely die.

So, it turns out that my phone wires were too long. I don't know about you, but I rarely hear the complaint that my equipment is too long. "No, it's a good size" and "It's better that length. Really." Thems I got plenty of times. But too long?

I did hear some familiar refrains from the Verion tech support team. "Is it in yet?" "That's strange." and "It shouldn't be doing that."

Any, I've been offline since Friday, but now I'm back. And during the week, I'll be posting some pages I've done since. And some other things too.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

EMAW 10 PAGE 18

Call me Chris Isaacs, Ishmael. For I've been a bad, bad blogger.

Here's page 18 of EMAW 10, Kaijus Jugoruma Capter 6:




This weekend should see me blogging furiously again. New pages, musics, whatnots.

For the time being, go check out some beautiful work here. I asked Mike when we'd see more of his pages, and he delivered in diamonds!

For my next trick, I'm going to ask Beyoncé to come over so I can rub oil into her thighs...

Sunday, January 06, 2008

HOW DID THIS... NOPE!

Check it out: Who Killed Round Robin. It's pretty nice.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

HOW DID IT AND RAN

New panel up at How Did This Happen? Panel 34. A nice bit of thick we're accumulating there.

I did this after locking myself out of the apartment this morning. I must've put on the wrong pants. Marcos saved the day, by being home and giving me his old keys. Since, I've whiled some hours watching QI season 5, but I really need to get some dinner, do some more work and maybe shower.

Friday, January 04, 2008

EMAW 11 PAGES 3-4

Two more pages. I'm sure this all leading to something most foul, but what?




Oh, yes. MURDER!

EMAW 11? PAGES 1&2

So, even though I wanted to be blazing pages for weeks now, I wanted to also take a little side-trip away from doing Kaiju Jugoruma and play with something else. Of course, a number of those 'something elses' have made their way directly to the trash heap. I haven't even scanned most of them.

But, I did scan this one in. I did these two pages today. They made me laugh.




If I DO wind up finishing this little book, it will be pretty little. The pages will print out closer to this size (3.5"x4.25" live areas):




We'll see what happens.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

TIM GUN!!!!!!!!!!!

ˇIM GUMMMMMMMMMM!!!!!!!!!!

NEWEST OF YEARS

Fuck yeahg. Youncome home listen to some 36 Chambersa and walk in the door conclusion Clan in the Front and tell me the that New Years of 08 isn't fuckin' GENIOUS!@!!!

Clan in the FRONT. Who got the Swa-ords? Hippy New Yers Muthafucjas!!!

Noe I watch that Project Runway want squeeze what's left thinkin about that ezmerelda chhttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.quote.gifick. antleast I remembered Jill and Mellissa;'s name WU TANGIMENA SUAVE PRSPECTS FOR EVER!!!!!!! HAPPPPY NEQW YEAR"S AND MERRRRYY EASTER TOOO YOU!!!!!FGUCK YEAH SUAVE! POOP{ KORBEL!
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