Thursday, February 28, 2008

LINKS!

Dick Hyacinth has THE TOP 100 REVIEWED COMICS OF 2007 meta-list up. Wrongs have been righted, up is up again. Down is now closer to the middle. Cats are no longer sleeping with dogs...

Let me be the very last person in the world to wish neilalien a happy 8-year blogiversary. I have no idea what I was doing on February 25th, 2000. neilalien was making the world stranger. Give the guy some bronze! Or bronzer, they don't get much son in his parts this time of year.

I'm on imeem now. I can't figure out how to make it work the way I think it's supposed to. Or make it do what I want. Even if I do, I doubt I'll social network there much. Marcos talks about it like it's the second coming or something.

Speaking of Marcos, this guy without thumbs is enraged to be married. What a country!

Now I know why I don't link-blog. This is exhausting.

I got the new Comics Journal. It's easier to carry, but you have to crack the spine with more brute strength in order to read those words on the inside. There were only 15 Best Of 2007 lists. I think, if they're committed to this multiple list business, they should maybe have a few more? I don't know. A quarter of the way through the issue, and it's pretty good. Nice to see Nick Bertozzi get a short interview. Although, was it done by email? I'm never sassified.

Forbidden Planet, NY has a whole bunch of copies of EMAW #9! They didn't ask for them, but they have all the copies I meant to mail out to other people. They also have a pretty good supply of the first 8 issues (that they DID order). Sometimes I'm surprised I make it into work with pants on every day. Clearly, getting me into pants each morning is some bed fairy's job, because I can't be trusted to do it on my own.

Jeff Smith arms might be the new Ditko hands. I'm just saying.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

DEAR MARCOS AND KENNY,

did I loan either of you fiances my Tekkon Kinkreet? If so, let me know! If not, then I think I somehow managed to lose that great big brick of a book; an impressive and depressive feat.

Also, Marcos, your comments aren't working. I wanted to tell you that the new Carl page reminded my of the second meeting between Omar and Brother Muozone. Or the second meeting between Pootie Tang and Dirty Dee.

Monday, February 25, 2008

MODEST MOUSE — WE WERE DEAD BEFORE THE SHIP EVEN SANK

MODEST MOUSE — WE WERE DEAD BEFORE THE SHIP EVEN SANK

So, it was 1999, and I was listening to the William Patterson University radio station when I heard a song that blew my head. I was getting interested in new music again, and here was something ready to make me feel like a freshman in college when you're suddenly discovering all sorts of new shit you never thought you'd like. I'm pretty sure the song was "Never Ending Math Equation," but I know for certain that the band was Modest Mouse. You have to understand that the back end of the nineties seemed like a barren wasteland, musically. Especially in rock music. Especially if you didn't have your nose in every possible hole, looking for the quality.

So, "Neverending Math Equation" was that night at a party and you get a name and a number, but the name smudges a bit and you're not even sure if the number was for business or for business and should you call? but it really seemed like you were hitting things off but it could've been a one-sided thing. But you call anyway and Building Nothing Out of Something was that remarkable first date, complete with a kiss and oh-my-god you will remember vague details of that night for a long time. And then I heard The Lonesome Crowded West and it was like the first three times you have sex together, that first time that's great because you're new to each other, the second time where you try to figure out how to apply things you know to reactions you're learning and the third time when you both drank a little more wine than you should've and things go to the wild and crazy place of sex you'll never forget but will try to recreate each night together until you can't stand each other.

And, yeah, there's going to be great sex after that. Maybe some of it will technically be even better (The Moon and Antarctica) and some of it might be a little freakier, with paused glances asking if you're sure about this new direction (Good News for People Who Love Bad News), but none of it truly recaptures those first perfect moments.

And that's where long-time fans (many, longer than me) find themselves. Because we still think that first magic is something we can recreate together, and sometimes we lose sight of the fact that the new times are worth appreciating as well. So, complain all you want that the Mouse doesn't kiss you the same way, but try not to make a scene because Johnny Marr is joining us and he heard we knew how to have a good time.

And that's what this album is. It's a good time. There's some brighter guitar on top of the angular and disjointed guitar. Maybe some keyboards over the propulsive drums. Harmonies over the wordplay. Horns over the drumrolls leading into the breakdowns.

And it's a lot weirder than their old music too. Modest Mouse has always been a little weird, but listen to "Dashboard" and all the signs that signal its pop-song qualities and really think about them for a second. It doesn't REALLY sound like a radio-friendly song at all. It's pop, but none of those sounds sound like the radio.

And they jump right into the high-energy, laughing head-first. They sound like they're having a great time making "Florida." And there's a part of me that wants to dismiss it as a silly song, but it's hard not to feel some of that infectious, shit-eating grin you know Isaac Brock must've been wearing when the manic structure of that song was arrived at.

And they still know how to build tension and quirky narrative until it all explodes into a double-time climax. Parting of the Sensory isn't Cowboy Dan/Doin' the Cockroach part 2, but it's also a little more unpredictable. It's playing around, but it's so angry, like breaking the fingers of lab mice for failing at memory tasks. And then it breaks into the actual sounds of the devil dancing over your grave.

And throughout, there are these weird-ass sounds that never overwhelm the songs, but hide low in the mix until the main elements stop briefly and you realize you'd been listening to them all along. It's all playful. Every element.

You know how the genious of The Smiths was the merging of disturbing or unpleasant thoughts with perfect pop songs? Not too surprisingly, Modest Mouse is doing something similar here. The words are cutting, or angry or just filled with bile or regret, but the music is bouncing all over the damn place. "We Missed the Boat" sounds almost embarrassingly joyful. Listen to the lilting chimes and delicate singing in "March into the Sea" that follows "treat me like disease" or "bang your head like a gong cause it's filled with all wrong." "We've Got Everything" is the Cars lamenting success, how they got there and the futility of trying all with about five New-Wave choruses all vying for the most ironic declaration.

"Fly Trapped in a Jar" is two songs thrown together in a way that you rarely ever hear. The two songs are linked thematically (in the lyrics), but share little stylistically or narratively. That is, until the second song builds, in traditional Modest Mouse fashion, into a song that seamlessly turns into the first song. It's probably the single most remarkable moment on the album, and it confused me the first few times I listened to it. And this doesn't even take into account the fly sound that begins the track, or the sparsely accompanied intro that precedes the first chorus of the first song. Or the distant, ironic laughter that pops up out of nowhere. Or the extra drums and synths that are hidden throughout.

And adding to the confusion is the fact that "Education" sounds like it's as much a part of the same song. I didn't know where I was anymore on my earliest plays. And things maintain this cruel playfullness throughout, culminating in the positively epic "Spitting Venom" with it's swirling, building, post-rock verses and super-catchy, yet anti-climatic title chorus (not to be confused with the other choruses).

Then the whole thing ends with "Invisible" that sounds as much like a statement of purpose for the new Modest Mouse as much as it does some ultimate culmination of the album and all Modest Mouse up to this point. It's like every callback, real or imagined, in some brand new medley.

And it really is a pretty great album. A fun album. A dark album. It's not my first Modest Mouse album. Or second. Or even my NINTH. But it's probably SOMEbody's. And, if so, it's a pretty awesome start, because it's a great album. It's taken me nearly a year to truly appreciate it, but I like your new haircut and the random grey hairs and the new toys and I even kinda like laughing while we do it now.

Labels:

Sunday, February 24, 2008

DONE IN 24

Well, aside from getting food, eating, working out and... 8 hours of sleeping (oops!), I worked for 24 hours straight!

Here's what I did done:



I get to check one thing off my 100 pages in 141 days, and I'm a lot closer to finishing the action thing. Those are second draft thumbnails, but they're pretty much full-size. Theres 3 more second draft pages to go, and then the finished pages will probably be done on heavy tracing paper.

CRANK! Hittin' pages like they're the cheeks of Luscious Lopez.

WHEN THIS POSTS WE'LL HIT 12 HOURS

12 hours in. 1 Page of Secret February is done. Second drafts of Action Thing? 6 pages in a can. Tomorrow at 1, I'll post a photograph with everything all in a spread of accomplishment.

Also, I ate lunch and dinner and finished my second week in my return to exercise.

And I had a dream, last night. I, my four brothers(!) and my parents (the parents of my dreams, at least) were all responsible for the defections of a Soviet choir. Then I woke up sad, even though I'm sure we succeeded (with a little help from a vinyl recording of David Bowie's Diamond Dogs). But I became sad when I realized that no one defects anymore. Defection was such a bread and butter staple of Cold War fictions and biopics. But no longer. And I wish defection would come back. Are their no scientists trapped behind enemy lines anymore? No more musical prodigies? No more Olympic greats?

Someone must want to defect, somewhere. And some unlikely person should help them. Get to it! Bring back defection!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

SIX AND A HALF HOURS IN

Volume IV

6 and a half hours in, and I've nearly finished inking one page of Secret Project February and I've completed the second drafts of 4 pages of Action Thing. I don't know where any of that puts me on the 10 pages in 24 hours timeline. Still, good to deadline myself again!

30 MINUTES INTO 24 HOURS

10 Pages, 24 hours. Not a joke. Not a hoax. Possibly accomplishable!

31 minutes in. Ktchup. Back to work!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

THAT'S AGONNA DO

"Who hidesa the cup you gonna use behinda the coffee pot?"

Thatsa wisdom. Like thatta Connafusing guy fromma China.

It'sa of the aegis.

Also, "Iffa you can't getta the fronta inna your mouth, time ta checka the back."

Stank Over Ns

Holdin' Cough Feels All




night

SAID THUMB TO FORE AND MIDDLE FINGERS

Well, you know whatta I allaways say, "You eata the pizza, you eate the pizza.

Hey, whaddaya gonna do?"

That'sa the business end righta there.

Monday, February 18, 2008

THE OTHER SALON

It's been a trial-and-error process finding out what Salon readers care about and don't -- there were a ton of comments when I wrote about Lost Girls, almost none when I wrote about Brian Chippendale's Ninja. Generally, if it has to do with history, prose literature, sex and/or politics, that's a good bet for Salon.


This bit really stood out to me in Tom Spurgeon's interview yesterday with Douglas Wolk.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

NEW JERSEY DRIVE

So, I'm watching New Jersey Drive for the first time (I'm embarrassed to admit it took 12 years). And I had to check out imdb to see if it was indeed Heavy D in the movie (it is!) and to see where I'd seen that judge before. He was WAY to familiar, but I couldn't place his face. It turns out, he was Gordon from Sesame Street.

I need to get some classic Sesame Street.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

DRUNK LOVE PUNCH

I haven't seen that one guy's new movie, but there was a time when the only movie those two guys ever made that was any good was Punch Drunk Love. Until I see that one guy's new movie, I'll assume that's still the case.

Anyway, I'm drunk enough now that I almost started calling exes, but then I visited Tom Spurgeon's site. And I followed the link over to the hottest Jim Steranko comic ever. I didn't even realise Marvel was still publishing romance comics in the 1970s. Also, I need to start building that dormant Steranko Library. Whatever, look at that story. It's full of business.

THAT took me over to this link, reminding me of that time I've heard about, when women were women and men wanted to be in them. And THAT had a link to this.

Siiiiiiiiiiigh.

Truly, it was some glorious age. The sandal hadn't yet turned into the flipflop. The hat hadn't turned into the baseball cap. The shirt hadn't turned into the Insert Football Team Here sweatshirt. Makeup was used on the face, rather than as some sort of decorative clutter for the top of the dresser. The thigh was was like some personal celebration every woman took with them wherever they went.

Damn you, Tom Spurgeon. Damn you, for reminding me.

Friday, February 15, 2008

BACH 2 BACH

Is that on the Top Ten Most Overused Puns List?

Ok, a side-by-side comparison of the final choral sections of St. Matthew's Passion suggests that the Weiner Philharmoniker might not be playing the piece the way I expected. It takes the voices 15 seconds longer to start in their version than in the Essentially Bach version. That's a huge discrepancy of speeds. They are not rockin the Bach.

Now I need to decide if I should get a non-skip, cough-free, Bach Rockin' Beats version or not.

I think I'll wait and listen to some of the other hours of music I have waiting for me. Perhaps Don Giovanni. That Mozart knew how to stir the cockles!

VALENTINE'S NAILING 244: MATTHEW'S PASSION IS BACH

Even with the V.D. behind us, I'm still trying to nail it. Here's a poorly lit photograph of the still-unfinished pencils for the first page of Secret Project February:


_________________________________

On a break from constant 2007 music listening, I went on a major Classical binge, all the way back to Bach (technically not Classical!). I've been listening to the 62-track Weiner Philharmonicker's rendition of St. Matthew's Passion (or BWV 244, Parts 1 and 2). Anyway, the recording appears to be from an older recording, complete with album skips, the occasional cough from the audience, and at least one moment when someone knocks into a mic. Well, I went for the one recording of the piece(s?) that was iTunes Plus and had at a recomendation to it.

I'm not sure what I think about the piece as a whole. It's certainly not as riveting as the final choral section ("Wir Setzen Uns Mit Tränen Nieder" — the part on Essentially Bach). Now that's some polyphony! For the most part, it seems more elegiacal than I expected. In the somber sense, not the punnish sense. More staid than a complex, contrapuntal work. Or, maybe I don't really know what I'm talking about.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

THE WEDNESSDAY PICK UP

Jack Staff #14

There are times when I really don't see why it's in color, but it's still good. The color doesn't detract at all, I'm just not always clear on the point. Maybe simply just for the times when the color is more important? Of course, when Zipper Nolan was introduced, I wasn't sure what his purpose was either. Was it just because The Sweeny had a young partner? And now I see what his purpose is: to bring some serious weird. MONTHLY!

The Goon #21

This was so much better than issue 20, and I loved issue 20 enough to start reading this series regularly. The bear. The colossal transvestite. The face hat. Smelly Steve. The sheep. The whole look of the thing, like exactly what you wished a Jack Davis/Harvey Kurtzman comic would look like if those guys were in their 20s today. I'm in love. I'm all shook up. ALSO MONTHLY!

Fantastic Comics #24

The next issue project. Erik Larsen! Bill Sienkienwicz, Thom Yeates,Andy Kuhn, Tom Scioli, Jim Rugg, Brian Maruca, Fred Hembeck, Milk Allred, Ashley Wood. This is actually really nicely put together. I like the Golden Age size, I love the Sin City paper (it's my favorite of papers!), I like the fact that it's full of cartoonists I like but rarely get comics from (for reasons beyond aesthetics), it's a little more tongue in cheek/deconstructuralist than Larsen has let on in some of his online pieces. I'm three stories in and so far it's what it says it is. It's these guys doing their takes on these characters, pointing out the obvious problems in the concept and then changing things to make these the sort of comics they might want to work on.

However, I get the off-register color gag, and I wouldn't complain about it, BUT

I also picked up Popeye Vol. 2

(my first) and WHY? Why the off register color? Isn't this a little like shooting an ancient greek epic amongst the ruins of the Parthenon? I really wish the color was fixed on these (I have the same problem with all reprints that don't fix this... like I Will Destroy All the Civilized Planets ad Art Out of Time). You're simply replicating an error. You're not recapturing the colorist's intent. You're not displaying the art in an acurate fashion. You're making it more difficult to appreciate Segar's lines and forms. Aside from that, this is a mamoth book with a fat-ass, die-cut cover and I'm sure I'll oove every minute of it.

Zombies vs. Chris Ryall Robots vs. Ashley Wood Amazons #2

Because I've been meaning to read one of these Wood books for a while.

Reich #1

A cartoonist I've wanted to read combined with a subject matter that's fascinated me since Robert Anton Wilson started writing about him. Looking forward to this.

Little Things

Marcos slipped this into my stack so he wouldn't have to buy it. He's a turd. This is the Trondheim diary comic NBM put out last year. I forgot all about it. NBM really needs to hire a marketing person. Why don't they do that?

Oh, I borrowed the first two issues of The Incredible Hercules (Incredible Hulk #112 and indicialess #113)

It is the opposite of Iron Fist: an actually good super hero comic. Really nice, clean clear art that conveys all the things you need in a super hero comic (unfortunately, the penciller is moving on to Mighty Avengers and the colorist passed away on Monday) and fairly clever writing. It's low on the ironic distance, lacking in the dreaded first-person narration, clear in its action, direct in its intent, assured in its characterizations, comfortable in its world, sophisticated in its storytelling, complex in its building conflicts... it's very much what people who talk about good super hero comics should be talking about.

And I read the first two collections of Scalped (not self-contained arcs at all!). I'm not sure what to make of this series. Everything really good about it seems to be at odds with things that don't work for me at all. I suspect I'll pick up the third collection and see... there's enough to get me to do that.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

MARNIE STERN — IN ADVANCE OFTHE BROKEN ARM

MARNIE STERN — IN ADVANCE OFTHE BROKEN ARM

It's about time someone got their Rush in your Sonic Youth and made some demonic Reese's Peanut Butter Cup of an album. This thing is crazy. You know how Built to Spill really love Lynard Skynard and Neil Young and the influence of both permeates everything they do, but they create songs no one would confuse with either of their inspirations (except for that cover of Freebird)? A similar case could be made for Marnie Stern. She seems to have come at music from Tom Sawyer town along Boredoms road.

Which isn't, in itself, all that unique. Certainly indie rock has been secretly mining prog since everyone learned the Pet Sounds formula to sounding just like every other band that wanted to sound like Brian Wilson. Radiohead, OOIOO, Battles... whoever. People have been sticking their hands into second-hand bins for Tales of Topographic Oceans and mining the best parts to fuse to noise and Pavement rhythms and whatever else for the about a decade now.

But Stern isn't grabbing a hint of a sound so much as she is taking one particular band, speeding their shit up and shotgun-weddinging it to wild, slap-dash drums, broken rhythms, swirling noise, overdubbed spirit squad vocals playing with bizzare poetry.

It's a lot happening, and it's usaully happening all at one. It can be really overwhelming, especially since there are times when it's all in the same place in the mix. It's a very loud album, and you need halfway decent headphones and a few listens to fully appreciate all the sounds and find the different levels. Don't try this with earbuds, but do try this at home.

You'll be excused if it all sounds a bit like an assault on your central nervous system or that there are times when no one seems to know how to play their instruments or sing or write a song, but then you realize that there's new sorts of hooks going on here and that everyone can play, they just play differently than you expect them to. A drum roll is in the 'wrong' spot, a new wave synth appears somewhere around the edges, almost everything drops out and you wonder if you've been listening to some Depeche Mode bass line the whole time.

And then there's the pyrotechnics. Serious, devil-gone-to-georgia playing the guitar so fast you can see the smoke coming off the strings. And it all comes in bursts, guitars and drums, but the bursts come in bursts like Pop Rocks full of lightning solos.

And there's familiar beauty in there too. A nostalgia amongst the noise and transformation, not just for Canadian prog rockers, but also for classical pop structures. It's just that those structures are cut up or squeezed or ripped apart. They're in there, but you might not recognize them at first.

It's a pretty exciting album.

Labels:

SAGE FRANCIS — HUMAN DEATH DANCE

SAGE FRANCIS — HUMAN DEATH DANCE

When we first heard of Sage Francis, we ate that shit up. This guy was smart, funny, lyrical, he had a great, poetry-slam flow, and worked with some great beats (at least as half of Non-Prophets). I grabbed it all up, laughed at the latter-day Bill Hicks moments and dug into the groove.

Then he came out with Healthy Distrust and suddenly I realized I already had exactly the amount of Sage Francis I needed. But there was nothing actually WRONG with Healthy Distrust. In fact, it's probably better than his other solo albums. But his flow is so practiced and his philosophy is so entrenched and the whole rythym of his thing is so well-established at this point that it's all becoming wall paper to my ears.

And this is a shame, because Human Death Dance might actually be better than Healthy Distrust. It's funny, angry, autobiographical, metaphysical, metaphorical and well-produced (if not neccessarily excitingly produced).

But it also seems a bit mannered. And there really aren't any surprises. Thhere are no metaphors so personal they defy explination. A lot of the word twists and phrase flips seem more glib than insightful. It's all become one-liners replacing art. And, speaking as someone who loves one liners and glib responses, the human condition isn't just ironic distance. It's more than that that separates man from beast, but it's just that that separates Francis from beats. (OH!)

See, there's a place for music to explain the Equal Rights Ammendment, and a place for music to make us feel guilty war and famine, and a place for music to make fun of our obsession with celebrities, or crack wise about gitmo. But, after a while, it just washes over you. It's always been the great weakness of conciousness rap or any art that subsumes all other considerations to the message that the message is undermined by its association with bad art and the art is lessened the more dominant the message.

"Yeah, I agree with the sentiment; but why is it a painting?"

And that's where Francis leaves me these 100 or so tracks later. If you've never listened to him before, by all means, make this your first exposure. It's still timely, moves from strength to strength, it wraps itself up in contradiction after contradiction, it's self-aware and self-depricating while trying really hard to tear down the people who demanded that wall be torn down.

But, for me, it may be just a little too self-aware. A little too self-deprecating. And i agree with the sentiments, but why are they songs? Shouldn't there be a little more bump n grind? Can't we have contradictory impulses we indulge rather than write song after song about just how we have contradictory impulses? Can't we have a little more catharsis and a little less clever? Can't we be smart and sexy?

Labels:

THE DIFFERENCE

The difference between a good album and a great album. If you share a beautiful moment with someone while a good album is playing in the background, you will treasure that album forever. If you listen to a great album, you can remember the wetness and thickness of her lips, the stiffness of her tongue, the fall of her hair, the fill of her flesh in your grip, the sadness and the laughter in her eyes — all without ever listening to that album with that person.

Anyway, I'm halfway through tonight's second bottle of wine, a 2006 Ménage à Trois (for my red California table), and I'm listening to Underworld's Dubnobasswithmyheadman. It's as cheesy as the sentiment above, and as evocative. And, like the sentiment above, it's far more powerful if you ignore the actual words unless, you know, you're in a place where you can laugh.

Whatever. It's Saturday night. I'm a little drunk. I'm listening to a great album. And I'm thinking of her.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

TWO DISAPPOINTMENTS

So, I'm watching last Wednesday's Daily Show on the internet (I'm assuming it's the same show they aired on tv with the bumpers and edges trimmed a bit) and I learn that the CNN I watched online on Super Tuesday may not have been the CNN people with cable watched on Super Tuesday. This is disappointing.

TV viewers missed the whole show! The Ghengis Hair, the head that ate Cloverfield, the anchor who thought the news was a hair salon tour that leaves every 15 minutes... possibly the blonde chick from the Naked News (the one with the Roman nose). I feel sorry for the tv watchers. But I'm mostly disappointed because I can't think of any reason why CNN would have different broadcasters for tv and the web. Isn't that some sort of incredible waist? Or is this like a hardcore title battle royale where you try to get as many anchors into the big pay-per-view as possible even though they have no storylines of their own?

I'm also disappointed that the Daily Show was filming in Union Square just before Super Tuesday. They did this on Sunday, didn't they? Just to fuck with me. They shot on the one day I wasn't there. Fuckers.
___________________________________

A third disappointment. Well, not a disappointment, so much as a question. It's been years since I didn't smoke, so I need to ask, does the vein in the left temple usually throb like a speaker stack at a rave all the time, or am I just experiencing some brutally abnormal physical withdrawls? It's not that it hurts so much as it feels like I've got a coin-fed mattress for a skull.

EMAW 10 PAGE 27

So, even though February is the month of working on other things, I was regretting not getting any pages up on the board. I haven't even been able tick my 100 pages in 143 days chart all month, because none of the pages I've done for the other project are usable at all. And I've had a need to get a damn page done.

So, EMAW 10 Page 27. When I started this serial, I knew there would be times when I'd sacrifice storytelling for a beautiful image (or weak attempt at one) and times when I'd sacrifice beautiful images for storytelling, and I've come to accept the fact that I've sometimes sacrificed both just to move on. But there was also something else I've been trying to do since I started Kaiju Jugoruma, and I've never been able to put it into words.

I still can't. This page comes closest to doing what's been at the back of my mind since I started. This backdoor goal I've had that remains hidden even from myself. Some thing of comics I've been trying to get at. I'm not saying that this page IS that, just that, for all the page's faults, I think it is a step closer to BEING that. Or my getting there.

Or something.


Friday, February 08, 2008

SECRET SKETCHBOOK

From the sketchbook dedicated to the other thing that isn't Earth Minds Are Weak, comes the most Earth Minds Are Weak image in it so far:



Yes, sometimes I make New Engineering jokes in my sketchbook.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

MODOK'S 11, CRAWL SPACE: XXXOMBIES, No. 5

Super-Villain Team-Up: MODOK'S 11

Yeah, the art slightly undermines the book. Mostly in a warmup for an X-Men comic sort of way than in a really awful way (except for the big explosion-climax that didn't make any sense).

Basically, imagine all the complaints people have about Rob Liefeld, and then imagine him changing his art in order to address those points. That's what it looks like, complete with the little loss of awesome you'd also get. There are some nice touches, though (particularly with the Spot and MODOK). And this might be the first comic where the colorist, an individual by the name of Guru eFX, works so much overtime that it's nearly impossible to see where the drawing ends and the coloring begins. Perhaps a weightier inker might've helped.

But the art isn't really all that bad for a super hero comic (it's not like Steve McNiven drew it!), and it's certainly drawn, not photoshopped into place. The biggest problem with the art is that it seems inappropriate for a comic seemingly designed to appeal to 20 bloggers. They're the only people that take MODOK seriously (it's not like he's Arnim Zola or Ego, the Living Planet!). You'd almost think that a more blogger-approved artist would've made for a more complete package. Still, it's likable, especially if you're not one of those tireless people who saw what a wrote about Liefeld above and thought "Oh, you mean everything?" Really, get a new box of soap.

Anyway, that was a lot of words to say that, like Villains United, the star of the book isn't the artist drawing these D-List characters, it's the writer turning them into engaging and interesting characters, which Van Lente pretty much does. He's mostly having fun here, and he needs his characters to move through certain plot elements and genre conventions, so there isn't a tremendous amount of room for him to add depth. But Everyone gets at least one nice little character arc, one little deceit and one little neat use of their power. The gags work (like the Infinicide reveal) and the actufal heist has some actual moments that will stick.

I am still unclear as to who the other two in the eleven are meant to be though. Once you start looking at the candidates, the candidate list blaoons to five of a hundred.

Still. Good fun.

Crawl Space: XXXombies #3

My name is Justin Fox, and I fully endorse this message. At least 85%. Big, loose, wild mark-making from Kieron Dwyer greatly elevates Remender's mobsters, rednecks and pornstars versus zombies apocalypse. The drawing is 100% aces all the way and the colors are solid and limited in palette (often monochromatic) all the way through. But the lettering. THE LETTERING!

Most of the lettering is one of those (possibly custom) fonts with the photoshop/illustrator balloons and that's fine. Whatever. It's not my thing, but I've learned to look past it in so many comics. But the screaming and yelling and the sound effects are all done in this comicraft style that is wholey at odds with the rest of the art. I'm not sure why Dwyer didn't at least do the sound effects himself. All these big, round letters with drop shadows and outlines atop Dwyer's jagged art is totally jarring. And it's even more of a shame, because I have to give letterer Rus Wooton at least some props for at least trying to make the computer lettering interesting. He's certainly trying to be a cartoonist about it, just maybe the wrong one.

HOWEVER! Pediatric Nurses versus Newborns versus Pornstars in all-out zombie carnage. So awesome. And not awesome in a, "Oh, it's a giant robot spider, why does it always have to be a giant robot spider," sort of way. It is awesome in a fully visceral, baby-brain eating, head smashing and splooshing glarpp!ing and evil zombie babies and headless babies and babies flying through the air and a fat man slipping in baby blood and smashing his fat ass in a pile of zombie babies sort of way.

Comedy gold.

No. 5.

I have one chapter left before I try to find Vol. 2, fail, and order it online.

This MIGHT BE BETTER than Tekkon Kinkreet.

The linework's even scratchier, but there's more weight to the compositions. There's a weightiness to at least two thirds of the images Matsumoto chooses that are strangely affecting. On my train ride home this evening, I had to turn off my ipod, halfway ignore (eg be a lot less creepy toward) this beautiful creature standing in front of me and just soak in the imagery. Gorgeous picture-making emotionally evocative stuff. These are the faces of impending doom. The inevitibility of death, the end of honor, the futility of tradition, the sadness of betrayal, the pointlessness of war, knowledge that your best friends will proably kill you before your Russian doll wife gives birth to your robot son... I'll make a bold declaration and call No. 5 the Once Upon a Time in the West of apocalyptic rogue robot fighting his former allies mangas.

Absolutely fantastic, beautiful, wonderful, spectacular stuff. I suspect I'll re-read this a few hundred times in a few different editions over the next few years.

Damn good week for genre comics.

FAHEY!!!!!!!!!

FAHEY! LAWNMOWER MAN!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

BOUGHT ON A WEDNESDAY

Picked up the second Scalped trade. I was supposed to borrow the first one many months ago, but it got lost in the friend-lending sphere. I expect I won't have too much trouble figuring out what's what. It better be better than those other Vertigo book that are supposed to be good! (I bought Northlanders #2 last week. Oh sweet fucking serious lord of... oy)

Picked up Crawl Space: XXXombies #3. Is this some sort of story arc anthology series of miniseries things like all the Hellboys?

MODOK's 11 trade. I think the art might let this one down a little, but the writing on the first issue is good fun and Van Lente seems like he really has a good idea of how to play with the characters' powers.

No. 5 Vol. 1 by Tekkon Kinkreet's Taiyo Matsumoto. So far, this is pretty wild.

So much for my plan to pick up some of 2007's best in order to make a bigger public ass of myself!

Last week was Hellboy: Conqueror Worm as I work to correct a nearly ten-year lapse since reading the first series with John Byrne words.

Also, it was Crickets #2. I expect issue 3 a year or so after Kramer's Ergot #7. That's fine. Harkham really isn't doing work aimed at the book market at all here. It's very much a comic book/one-man art comic anthology thing. It is fun and well worth reading.

That other thing I mentioned above, and... Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse: Calamari Rising: One of Four: By Ben Templesmith: Who Makes an Entire Issue of Waiting for Something to Happen: Actually Fun: It Probably Helps: That His Dirty Grotesque Glowing Technique of Actually Trying to Do Something in Photoshop: Fits a Series About Demon Characters Very Well. Also, he writes like Warren Ellis having fun.

OH! I knew I bought SOME art comic. Mome #11: Everything is now redable. Some of it still isn't great, but it was all readable. And it all felt cohesive. Maybe because it was the all-existential anguish issue. The serialized stories all seemed to be at good points to have only a few pages of story represented, if I'm still unsure about the cumulative value of most of them. Stars? Jim Woodring's fiinale was pretty awesome. I'd love to see a big, full-color version of this. Or, at least, an oversized collection. I think it's the first thing in Mome I can see making that transition. The kid really shows promise! Robert Goodin's fable adaptation was a great fusion of sesibilities. Kaczysnski's isn't his strongest, but it's still worth reading and he gives good interview (although I still wish Groth would put a little something extra into these — no, I don't know how else to put it).

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

WATCHIN LIVE CABLE

Watchin live cable on the internets. I saw a report by some British dude on what surfers think of the election that fell just short of a John Oliver Daily Show story.

And I could almost swear that at one of CNN's reporters used to be on The Naked News. The one at McCain headquarters.

New Jersey went to Clinton. I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Just disapointed. What happened youth of americans? Delaware! We lose to Delaware for Obamalove!

CNN's New York anchor has hair that could conquer the world. It's out of control!

God is very angry with Mike Huckabee and is trying to destroy Arkansas with tornadoes. I guess he's endorsing Romney too.

Who is Mick Kane? When was Romney the Mayor of Massachusetts. In what way can you consider Massachusetts and Delaware neighboring states?

Why is the news filled with crazy giant heads? Nicole Lapin has landed on our world, and she's crunching numbers without names.

Monday, February 04, 2008

DEMIRICOUS — TWO (POVERTY)

DEMIRICOUS — TWO (POVERTY)

When Demiricous debuted with ONE (HELLBOUND), it was a big "What the fuck?" moment for metal fans. Here was a new thrash band, 20 years after thrash arrived and vanished like a spectacular, beautiful butterfly. Here was a genre of music that was abandoned almost as soon as it was perfected — and the world has been poorer since.

But the question was, was Demiricous offering anything new or had they just solved the riddle of how to make a mathematically arrived replication of greatness? And were there really even enough thrash albums in existence to deny the inclusion of another?

My jury of one was out. We could not come up with a proper judgement. But we were going to watch out for this band and see what happened next. Would they go industrial like Slayer? Would they go Nu-Metal like Sepultura? Head into Death Metal? Pick up the new wave of Groove Metal? Turn to seed like Metallica?

No. They would return one year later with TWO (POVERTY), a nearly perfect thrash album. Two (Poverty) seems to exist in a world where Motorhead's Ace of Spades came out, followed by Venom's Black Metal, followed by Reign in Blood, Master of Puppets and Beneath the Remains and then, finally, TWO (POVERTY). Like it's the best album of 1987 suddenly unearthed and rediscovered in 2007.

It's all here. The pounding double drums, the constant rhythm, the sudden breaks and switches into lightning fast, cough-and-you-miss-them blazing guitar solos, the howling vocals shouting anthems of individuality, raging against hypocrisy, screaming to shut out the noise, talking about the devil like he's the only enemy cooler than god, embracing agressive apathy and nihilsm! And then there's the song titles: Expression of Immunity to God, Knuckle Eye, Leprosaic Belief, Acid Lung, Stress Fetish! ARGHHHHH!!!!!!!! YEAH!

Fucking hell, I'm 15 again.

Does the band have a distictive voice? Yeah. They don't do the lightning changes Slayer was famous for. There isn't a lot of mixing South American rhythms like Sepultura. There really aren't many nods to prog rock like Metallica. They don't indulge in speed metal and British new wave like Megadeath. They certainly don't have the playfulness of Anthrax.

They lean a bit on the sludgier, maybe even grungier side of the tracks (Blackish Silver could almost be a Soundgarden/Alice in Chains instrumental duel). They want to catch you in the rhythm, in the pattern of the bass-driven hooks. The combination is what differentiates them the most from Slayer (who really are the dominant influence on the album). But this is also an album just for the thrash heads — like a special gift. There aren't any singles, no real vocal hooks to sing along with. Just pure thrash.

Now, there was one test I had to perform with the album. How would it sound if I ran up to my room and blasted it as loud as possible so I didn't have to listen to my parents yelling at me. Would it drown noise? Would it be cathartic? Could I swing my hair in perfect circles to it?!

Well, hair and parents aren't what or where they used to be these days, but I do have annoying neighbors. A few days ago, my neighbors dogs started barking at a dog outside our building. The three were going nuts. My neighbors were out, but came home to the barkathon. They started barking at the dogs, inciting even more barking.

This went on for at least 15 minutes.

On went the Demiricous, and holy fucking hell was it the greatest relief ever.

Labels:

Sunday, February 03, 2008

PERHAPS I'M FEELING LESS WITHDRAWLY TONIGHT

In reference to the previous post:

I (of all people) shouldn't have said the bit about the visual ugliness of the books in question.

Criminal isn't visually ugly.

Exit Wounds and Shortcomings probably aren't (especially in context).

So, six out of ten should pretty much discount that point entirely.
_________________________

How about that? The people upstairs must be having a Super Bowl Party. I guess it ended well! I heard nothing for four hours until just before ten. Then the whole place went nuts. Good job, Giants! Or possibly Patriots! Better luck next year, Oilers!
_________________________

Iron Fist should totally team up with the Oilers!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

2007 COMICS? SERIOUSLY, INTERNET. WE NEED TO TALK.

I really don't want to do a best of this year. I mean, I'm so far behind on doing my music list that a comics list seems impossible. And the FSSMTW Series kind of dulled my review hunger.

Then I read Dick Hyacinth's Preliminary Meta-List of Best ofs, and it reinforced the idea that Democracy is a failure system. A great lesson to remember in a leap year. But I didn't think about it much. Then Marcos emailed me about it while I was at work. And I was at at work, so I was already sporting a drunk's anger. I'm like Bruce Banner: you wouldn't like to see me when I'm at work (thanks to Neilalien for pointing that link out).

Anyway, he was clearly trying to goad me. Asking me what I thought. Implying certain comics might not be great despite the internet's insistence. And he got me fumin' and thinkin'...

(unfortunately, I haven't read everything on the list, BUT)

Is Exit Wounds the very good but not great book that Fun Home was last year? I haven't read it yet. I keep meaning to, but I suspect anything short of a brilliant reading experience will register as disproprtionately exagerated disapointment.

Does Ed Brubaker get some sort of Crime/Ninja Pass for services rendered more than a decade ago? Criminal AND Iron Fist? And how does Iron Fist make it, but not Casanova?

When did The Arrival go from Eddie Campbell's curious favorite to Euro-Darling?

I saw the Buffy movie on opening night. I watched every single episode of the show when it aired for the first time. I own the ottoman-sized boxset. The comic? Top ten? REALLY?

I haven't read Shortcomings. I lost track of Optic Nerve about halfway through whatever the last collection collected.

Does anyone love I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets the way Dan Nadel and Paul Karasik love the original comics, or do we all just think it's this year's Joker's Boner? I think we're all suspect on this. Even Nadel and Karasik.

Are there more than three books on that list that aren't visually ugly? All Star Superman, Scott Pilgrim, Perry Bible Fellowship and... I can't think of a fourth. Can you?

And, even only considering the non-minicomic world:

Didn't Alias the Cat come out in 2007?
Didn't Superspy?
Tekkon Kinkreet?
Chance in Hell?
Speak of the Devil?
Volume 3 of The Times of Botchan?
Phoenix?
MW?
Dr. Strange: The Oath?
The Salon?
Houdini?
House?
Garage Band?
Notes For a War Story?
Death Note?
Monster?
Drifting Classroom?
Hikaru No Go?
A new Dungeon?
The Blot?
Red Eye, Black Eye?
The third Jack Kirby's New Gods Omnibus?
New volumes of Peanuts, Popeye, Walt & Skeezix, etc.?
Gutsville?
Shaolin Cowboy?
Big Questions? BIG QUESTIONS!
Grotesque?
Pwr Mstrs?
Daybreak?
Fear Agent?
The Goon?
Usagi Yojimbo?
The Umbrella Academy?
Omega the Unknown?

None of these were better than Iron Fist?

REALLY, internet?

Now, the total list (beyond the Preliminary Top 10) is said to include over 400 titles. Obviously, this is just as absurd. Were individual issues of Countdown, Shonen Jump and 2000 AD included? (Those are all weekly, right?) I'm sure most of what I listed above then makes the grand list.

Still, that means far more people included Iron Fist than Alias the Cat on their lists. This is a serious sin of either omission or judgement. Or both. And I dread the list that included both and ranked Iron Fist* above Alias the Cat. If you made such a list, then it's time you reconsidered life.

So, no Best of 2007 list from me. At least, not yet.



____________________________________

*If it seems like I'm coming down too hard on Iron Fist, let's keep a little perspective:

A. Iron Fist is the worst super hero name in a long history of terrible character names. Seriously. Try recomending the Iron Fist to your girlfriend/boyfriend. Don't even try coming up with worse names. Iron Fist beats the Man-Thing/Whizzer combo every day.

B. You said Iron Fist was better than Casanova, the Order and Captain America. Books written by the same people. At least ONE of those books is better (hint: it's Casanova, in case you're unsure).

C. Yes, I read it. At least the first three issues.

D. It's Iron Fist.

Friday, February 01, 2008

EMAW 10 PAGE 26 (?)

First of all, that was the most Wire of Losts. Second, that was craziest of Xiu Xiu. Third, call me Jimmy cause this was quickest of page. Basically, I did almost all the work in ink with pencil just pointing out the forms. I wanted this to look more like my thumbnails, and I think I hit what I was attempting. I want to say more, but I'm kinda drunk on my first sober night of the week. Sooper loopy. Let drawing speak for the shelves:


eXTReMe Tracker