Sean T. Collins has written about comics and popular culture professionally since 2001 and on this very blog since 2003. He has written for Maxim, The Comics Journal, Stuff, Wizard, A&F Quarterly, Comic Book Resources, Giant, ToyFare, The Onion, The Comics Reporter and more. His comics
have been published by Top Shelf, Partyka, and Family Style. He blogs here and at Robot 6
(Provided that I deem them suitably fabulous, your name and message will be considered eligible for publication unless you specify otherwise.)
Review Copies Welcome
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An anthology of comics written by Sean T. Collins
Art by Matt Wiegle, Matt Rota, and Josiah Leighton
Designed by Matt Wiegle
An indie fantasy anthology
Featuring a comic by Sean T. Collins & Matt Wiegle
The Sean Collins Media Empire
Destructor Comes to Croc Town
story: Sean T. Collins
art: Matt Wiegle
1995 (NSFW)script: Sean T. Collins
art: Raymond Suzuhara
Pornographyscript: Sean T. Collins
art: Matt Wiegle
It Brought Me Some Peace of Mindscript: Sean T. Collins
art: Matt Rota
edit: Brett Warnock
A Real Gentle Knifescript: Sean T. Collins
art: Josiah Leighton
lyrics: "Rippin Kittin" by Golden Boy & Miss Kittin
The Real Killers Are Still Out Therescript: Sean T. Collins
art: Matt Wiegle
Destructor in: Prison Breakstory: Sean T. Collins
art: Matt Wiegle
Cage Variations: Kitchen Sink
script: Sean T. Collins
art: Matt Rota
Cage Variations: 1998 High Street
script: Sean T. Collins
art: Matt Rota
Cage Variations: We Had No Idea
script: Sean T. Collins
art: Matt Rota
The Side Effects of the Cocaine
script: Sean T. Collins
art: Isaac Moylan
Cage Variations: No
script: Sean T. Collins
art: Matt Rota
The Amazing! Incredible! Uncanny Oral History of Marvel Comics
The Outbreak: An Autobiographical Horror Blog
Where the Monsters Go: A 31-Day Horrorblogging Marathon, October 2003
Blog of Blood: A Marathon Examination of Clive Barker's Books of Blood, October
The Blogslinger: Blogging Stephen King's The Dark Tower series, October-November 2007
The Things That Should Not Be: The Monumental Horror-Image and Its Relation to the Contemporary Horror Film (introduction)PDF
My 35 Favorite Horror Films of All Time (at the moment)
My David Bowie Sketchbook
The Manly Movie Mamajama
Horror and Certainty I
Horror and Certainty II
En Garde--I'll Let You Try My New Dumb Avant Garde Style, Part I
Evil for Thee, Not Me
The 7 Best Horror Movies of the Past 7 Years (give or take a few films)
Keep Horror NSFW, Part I
Meet the New Boss: The Politics of Killing, Part I
130 Things I Loved About The Sopranos
In Defense of "Torture Porn," Part I
At a Loss: Lost fandom and its discontents
I Got Dem Ol' Konfuzin' Event-Komik Blues Again, Mama
Losing My Edge (DFADDTF Comix Remix)
GusGus, the Universe, and Everything
"I'd Rather Die Than Give You Control" (or Adolf Hitler, Quentin Tarantino, Eli Roth, and Trent Reznor walk into a blog)
The 11 Most Awful Songs from Geek Movie Soundtracks
The 11 Most Awesome Songs from Geek Movie Soundtracks
11 More Awesome Songs from Geek Movie Soundtracks
The 15 Greatest Science Fiction-Based Pop/Rock/Hip-Hop Songs
My Loch Ness Adventure
The Best Comics of 2003
The Best Albums of 2003
The Best Albums of 2004
The Best Comics of 2005
The Best Comics of 2006
The Best Comics, Films, Albums, Songs, and Television Programs of 2007
The Best Comics of 2008
The Best Comics of 2009
The Best Songs of 2009
80 Great Tracks from the 1990s
Interviews with Sean
Interviews by Sean
Avatar (Cameron, 2009)
Barton Fink (Coen, 1991)
Batman Begins (Nolan, 2005)
Battlestar Galactica: Razor (Alcala/Rose, 2007)
Battlestar Galactica: "Revelations" (Rymer, 2008)
Battlestar Galactica Season 4.5 (Moore et al, 2009)
Battlestar Galactica: The Plan (Olmos, 2009)
Beowulf (Zemeckis, 2007)
The Birds (Hitchcock, 1963)
The Blair Witch Project (Myrick & Sanchez, 1999)
The Bourne Identity (Liman, 2002)
The Bourne Supremacy (Greengrass, 2004)
The Bourne Ultimatum (Greengrass, 2007)
Casino Royale (Campbell, 2006)
Caprica: "Pilot" (Reiner, 2009)
Caprica S1 E1-6 (Moore et al, 2010)
Children of Men (Cuaron, 2006)
Cigarette Burns (Carpenter, 2005)
Clash of the Titans (Leterrier, 2010)
Cloverfield (Reeves, 2008), Part I
Crank: High Voltage (Neveldine/Taylor, 2009)
Daredevil (Johnson, 2003)
The Dark Knight (Nolan, 2008)
Dawn of the Dead (Snyder, 2004)
Della'morte, Dell'amore [Cemetery Man] (Soavi, 1994)
The Diary of a Teenage Girl: The Play (Eckerling & Sunde, 2010)
District 9 (Blomkamp, 2009)
Doomsday (Marshall, 2008)
Dragon Wars [D-War] (Shim, 2007)
Eastern Promises (Cronenberg, 2007)
The Exorcist (Friedkin, 1973)
The Expendables (Stallone, 2010)
Eyes Wide Shut (Kubrick, 1999)
Eyes Wide Shut revisited, Part I
Garden State (Braff, 2004)
Gossip Girl Seasons 1-2 (Savage, Schwartz et al, 2007-08)
Gossip Girl Season Three (Savage, Schwartz et al, 2009-2010)
Grindhouse [Planet Terror/Death Proof] (Rodriguez & Tarantino, 2007)
Heavenly Creatures (Jackson, 1994)
Hellboy (Del Toro, 2004)
Hellraiser (Barker, 1987)
A History of Violence (Cronenberg, 2005), Part I
The Host (Bong, 2006)
Hostel (Roth, 2005)
Hostel: Part II (Roth, 2007)
Hulk (Lee, 2003)
The Hurt Locker (Bigelow, 2009)
I Am Legend (Lawrence, 2007)
The Incredible Hulk (Leterrier, 2008)
Inglourious Basterds (Tarantino, 2009)
Inside (Maury & Bustillo, 2007)
Iron Man (Favreau, 2008)
Iron Man II (Favreau, 2010)
It (Wallace, 1990)
Jeepers Creepers (Salva, 2001)
King Kong (Jackson, 2005), Part I
Land of the Dead (Romero, 2005)
Let the Right One In (Alfredson, 2008)
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Jackson, 2003)
Lost: the first five episodes (Abrams, Lindelof et al, 2004)
Lost Season Five (Lindelof, Cuse, Bender et al, 2009)
Lost Season Six (Lindelof, Cuse, Bender et al, 2010)
Lost Highway (Lynch, 1997)
The Lovely Bones (Jackson, 2009)
Match Point (Allen, 2006)
The Matrix Revolutions (Wachowski, 2003)
Metropolis (Lang, 1927)
The Mist (Darabont, 2007), Part I
Moon (Jones, 2009)
Mulholland Drive (Lynch, 2001)
My Bloody Valentine 3D (Lussier, 2009)
The Mystic Hands of Doctor Strange #1 (various, 2010)
Night of the Living Dead (Romero, 1968)
Pan's Labyrinth (Del Toro, 2006)
Paperhouse (Rose, 1988)
Paranormal Activity (Peli, 2009)
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (Verbinski, 2007) Part I
Poltergeist (Hooper/Spielberg, 1982)
Quantum of Solace (Forster, 2008)
Rambo (Stallone, 2008)
[REC] (Balaguero & Plaza, 2007)
The Ring (Verbinski, 2002)
The Road (Hillcoat, 2009)
The Ruins (Smith, 2008)
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (Wright, 2010)
Secretary (Shainberg, 2002)
A Serious Man (Coen, 2009)
The Shining (Kubrick, 1980)
Shoot 'Em Up (Davis, 2007)
Shutter Island (Scorses, 2010)
The Silence of the Lambs (Demme, 1991)
The Sopranos (Chase et al, 1999-2007)
Speed Racer (Wachowski, 2008)
The Stand (Garris, 1994), Part I
The Terminator (Cameron, 1984)
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (Cameron, 1991)
Terminator Salvation (McG, 2009)
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (Hooper, 1974)
There Will Be Blood (Anderson, 2007)
The Thing (Carpenter, 1983)
300 (Snyder, 2007)
"Thriller" (Jackson & Landis, 1984)
28 Days Later (Boyle, 2002)
28 Weeks Later (Fresnadillo, 2007)Part I
Twilight (Hardwicke, 2008)
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (Slade, 2010)
The Twilight Saga: New Moon (Weitz, 2009)
Up in the Air (J. Reitman, 2009)
War of the Worlds (Spielberg, 2005)
Watchmen (Snyder, 2009) Part I
The Wicker Man (Hardy, 1973)
The Wire (Simon et al, 2002-2008)
Zombi 2 [Zombie] (Fulci, 1980)
Zombieland (Fleischer, 2009)
Books of Blood (Barker, 1984-85)
A Clash of Kings (Martin, 1999)
The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian (Howard, 2003)
The Dark Tower series (King, 1982-2004)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling, 2003)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Rowling, 2005)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Rowling, 2007)
Hitler: A Biography (Kershaw, 2008)
It (King, 1986)
Mister B. Gone (Barker, 2007)
The Monster Show (Skal, 2001)
Portable Grindhouse (Boyreau, 2009)
The Ruins (Smith, 2006)
'Salem's Lot (King, 1975)
The Stand (King, 1990), Part I
The Terror (Simmons, 2007)
Abe Sapien: The Drowning (Mignola & Alexander, 2008)
Abstract Comics (various, 2009)
The ACME Novelty Library #18 (Ware, 2007)
The ACME Novelty Library #19 (Ware, 2008)
Across the Universe: The DC Universe Stories of Alan Moore (Moore et al, 2003)
Action Comics #870 (Johns & Frank, 2008)
The Adventures of Tintin: The Seven Crystal Balls (Herge, 1975)
Afrodisiac (Rugg & Maruca, 2010)
Against Pain (Rege Jr., 2008)
Agents of Atlas #10 (Parker, Hardman, Rivoche, 2009)
The Airy Tales (Volozova, 2008)
Al Burian Goes to Hell (Burian, 1993)
Alan's War (Guibert, 2008)
Alex Robinson's Lower Regions (Robinson, 2007)
Aline and the Others (Delisle, 2006)
All-Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder Vol. 1 (Miller & Lee, 2009)
All-Star Superman (Morrison & Quitely, 2008-2010)
American Splendor: The Life and Times of Harvey Pekar (Pekar et al, 2003)
An Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons and True Stories (Brunetti et al, 2006)
An Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons and True Stories Vol. 2 (Brunetti et al, 2008)
Aqua Leung Vol. 1 (Smith & Maybury, 2008)
Archaeology (McShane, 2009)
The Arrival (Tan, 2006)
Artichoke Tales (Kelso, 2010)
Asterios Polyp (Mazzucchelli, 2009)
The Aviary (Tanner, 2007)
The Awake Field (Rege Jr., 2006)
Axe Cop (Nicolle & Nicolle, 2009-2010)
Bacter-Area (Keith Jones, 2005)
Bald Knob (Hankiewicz, 2007)
Batman (Simmons, 2007)
Batman #664-669, 672-675 (Morrison et al, 2007-2008)
Batman #681 (Morrison & Daniel, 2008)
Batman and the Monster Men (Wagner, 2006)
Batman and Robin #1 (Morrison & Quitely, 2009)
Batman and Robin #9 (Morrison & Stewart, 2010)
Batman: Hush (Loeb & Lee, 2002-03)
Batman: Knightfall Part One: Broken Bat (Dixon, Moench, Aparo, Balent, Breyfogle, Nolan, 1993)
Batman R.I.P. (Morrison, Daniel, Garbett, 2010)
Batman: The Story of the Dark Knight (Cosentino, 2008)
Batman Year 100 (Pope, 2007)
Battlestack Galacti-crap (Chippendale, 2005)
The Beast Mother (Davis, 2006)
The Best American Comics 2006 (A.E. Moore, Pekar et al, 2006)
The Best of the Spirit (Eisner, 2005)
Between Four Walls/The Room (Mattotti, 2003)
Big Questions #10 (Nilsen, 2007)
Big Questions #11: Sweetness and Light (Nilsen, 2008)
Big Questions #12: A Young Crow's Guide to Hunting (Nilsen, 2009)
Big Questions #13: A House That Floats (Nilsen, 2009)
Big Questions #14: Title and Deed (Nilsen, 2010)
The Black Diamond Detective Agency (E. Campbell & Mitchell, 2007)
Black Ghost Apple Factory (Tinder, 2006)
Black Hole (Burns, 2005) Giant Magazine version
Black Hole (Burns, 2005) Savage Critics version, Part I
Blackest Night #0-2 (Johns & Reis, 2009)
Blankets (Thompson, 2003)
Blar (Weing, 2005)
Bone (Smith, 2005)
Bonus ? Comics (Huizenga, 2009)
The Book of Genesis Illustrated (Crumb, 2009)
Bottomless Bellybutton (Shaw, 2008)
Boy's Club (Furie, 2006)
Boy's Club 2 (Furie, 2008)
Boy's Club 3 (Furie, 2009)
B.P.R.D. Vol. 9: 1946 (Mignola, Dysart, Azaceta, 2008)
B.P.R.D.: War on Frogs #4 (Arcudi & Snejbjerg, 2009)
Breakdowns: Portrait of the Artist as a Young %@&*! (Spiegelman, 2008)
Brilliantly Ham-fisted (Neely, 2008)
Burma Chronicles (Delisle, 2008)
Capacity (Ellsworth, 2008)
Captain America (Brubaker, Epting, Perkins et al, 2004-2008)
Captain America #33-34 (Brubaker & Epting, 2007-08)
Captain America: Reborn #4 (Brubaker & Hitch, 2009)
Captain Britain & MI:13 #5 (Cornell & Oliffe, 2008)
Cartoon Dialectics Vol. 1 (Kaczynski, 2007)
Chance in Hell (G. Hernandez, 2007)
Chester 5000 XYV (Fink, 2008-2009)
Chrome Fetus Comics #7 (Rickheit, 2009)
City-Hunter Magazine #1 (C.F., 2009)
Clive Barker's Seduth (Barker, Monfette, Rodriguez, Zone, 2009)
Clive Barker's The Thief of Always (Oprisko & Hernandez, 2005)
Closed Caption Comics #8 (various, 2009)
Cockbone (Simmons, 2009)
Cold Heat #1 (BJ & Santoro, 2006)
Cold Heat #2 (BJ & Santoro, 2006)
Cold Heat #4 (BJ & Santoro, 2007)
Cold Heat #5/6 (BJ & Santoro, 2009)
Cold Heat #7/8 (BJ & Santoro, 2009)
Cold Heat Special #2: The Chunky Gnars (Cornwell, 2007)
Cold Heat Special #3 (Santoro & Shaw, 2008)
Cold Heat Special #5 (Santoro & Smith, 2008)
Cold Heat Special #6 (Cornwell, 2009)
Cold Heat Special #7 (DeForge, 2009)
Cold Heat Special #8 (Santoro & Milburn, 2008)
Cold Heat Special #9 (Santoro & Milburn, 2009)
Comics Are For Idiots!: Blecky Yuckerella Vol. 3 (Ryan, 2008)
The Complete Persepolis (Satrapi, 2007)
Core of Caligula (C.F., 2008)
Crossing the Empty Quarter and Other Stories (Swain, 2009)
Cry Yourself to Sleep (Tinder, 2006)
Curio Cabinet (Brodowski, 2010)
Cyclone Bill & the Tall Tales (Dougherty, 2006)
Daredevil #103-104 (Brubaker & Lark, 2007-08)
Daredevil #110 (Brubaker, Rucka, Lark, Gaudiano, 2008)
The Dark Knight Strikes Again (Miller & Varley, 2003)
Dark Reign: The List #7--Wolverine (Aaron & Ribic, 2009)
Daybreak Episode Three (Ralph, 2008)
DC Universe #0 (Morrison, Johns et al, 2008)
The Death of Superman (Jurgens et al, 1993)
Death Note Vol. 1 (Ohba & Obata, 2005)
Death Note Vol. 2 (Ohba & Obata, 2005)
Death Trap (Milburn, 2010)
Detective Comics #854-860 (Rucka & Williams III, 2009-2010)
The Diary of a Teenage Girl (Gloeckner, 2002)
Dirtbags, Mallchicks & Motorbikes (Kiersh, 2009)
Don't Go Where I Can't Follow (Nilsen & Weaver, 2006)
Doom Force #1 (Morrison et al, 1992)
Doomwar #1 (Maberry & Eaton, 2010)
Dr. Seuss Goes to War (Seuss/Minear, 2001)
Dragon Head Vols. 1-5 (Mochizuki, 2005-2007)
A Drifting Life (Tatsumi, 2009)
Driven by Lemons (Cotter, 2009)
Eightball #23 (Clowes, 2004)
Ex Machina Vols. 1-9 (Vaughan, Harris et al, 2005-2010)
Exit Wounds (Modan, 2007)
The Exterminators Vol. 1: Bug Brothers (Oliver & Moore, 2006)
Fallen Angel (Robel, 2006)
Fandancer (Grogan, 2010)
Fatal Faux-Pas (Gaskin, 2008)
FCHS (Delsante & Freire, 2010)
Feeble Minded Funnies/My Best Pet (Milburn/Freibert, 2009)
Fight or Run: Shadow of the Chopper (Huizenga, 2008)
Final Crisis #1 (Morrison & Jones, 2008)
Final Crisis #1-7 (Morrison, Jones, Pacheco, Rudy, Mahnke et al, 2008-2009)
Fires (Mattotti, 1991)
First Time (Sibylline et al, 2009)
Flash: Rebirth #4 (Johns & Van Sciver, 2009)
Follow Me (Moynihan, 2009)
Footnotes in Gaza (Sacco, 2009)
Forbidden Worlds #114: "A Little Fat Nothing Named Herbie!" (O'Shea [Hughes] & Whitney, 1963)
Forlorn Funnies #5 (Hornschemeier, 2004)
Forming (Moynihan, 2009-2010)
Fox Bunny Funny (Hartzell, 2007)
Funny Misshapen Body (Brown, 2009)
Galactikrap 2 (Chippendale, 2007)
Ganges #2 (Huizenga, 2008)
Ganges #3 (Huizenga, 2009)
Gangsta Rap Posse #1 (Marra, 2009)
The Gigantic Robot (Gauld, 2009)
Giraffes in My Hair: A Rock 'n' Roll Life (Paley & Swain, 2009)
A God Somewhere (Arcudi & Snejbjerg, 2010)
Goddess Head (Shaw, 2006)
The Goddess of War, Vol. 1 (Weinstein, 2008)
GoGo Monster (Matsumoto, 2009)
The Goon Vols. 0-2 (Powell, 2003-2004)
Green Lantern #43-51 (Johns, Mahnke, Benes, 2009-2010)
Held Sinister (Stechschulte, 2009)
Hellboy Junior (Mignola, Wray et al, 2004)
Hellboy Vol. 8: Darkness Calls (Mignola & Fegredo, 2008)
Henry & Glenn Forever (Neely et al, 2010)
High Moon Vol. 1 (Gallaher & Ellis, 2009)
Ho! (Brunetti, 2009)
How We Sleep (Davis, 2006)
I Killed Adolf Hitler (Jason, 2007)
I Live Here (Kirshner, MacKinnon, Shoebridge, Simons et al, 2008)
I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets! (Hanks, Karasik, 2007)
Image United #1 (Kirkman, Liefeld et al, 2009)
The Immortal Iron Fist #12 (Brubaker, Fraction, Aja, Kano, Pulido, 2008)
The Immortal Iron Fist #21 (Swierczynski & Green, 2008)
Immortal Weapons #1 (Aaron, Swierczynski et al, 2009)
In a Land of Magic (Simmons, 2009)
In the Flesh: Stories (Shadmi, 2009)
Incanto (Santoro, 2006)
Incredible Change-Bots (Brown, 2007)
The Incredible Hercules #114-115 (Pak, Van Lente, Pham, 2008)
Inkweed (Wright, 2008)
Invincible Vols. 1-9 (Kirkman, Walker, Ottley, 2003-2008)
Invincible Iron Man #1-4 (Fraction & Larroca, 2008)
Invincible Iron Man #8 (Fraction & Larroca, 2008)
Invincible Iron Man #19 (Fraction & Larroca, 2009)
It Was the War of the Trenches (Tardi, 2010)
It's Sexy When People Know Your Name (Hannawalt, 2007)
Jessica Farm Vol. 1 (Simmons, 2008)
Jin & Jam #1 (Jo, 2009)
JLA Classified: Ultramarine Corps (Morrison & McGuinness, 2002)
Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer (Katchor, 1996)
Jumbly Junkery #8-9 (Nichols, 2009-2010)
Just a Man #1 (Mitchell & White, 2009)
Justice League: The New Frontier Special (Cooke, Bone, Bullock, 2008)
Keeping Two (Crane, 2001-)
Kick-Ass #1-4 (Millar & Romita Jr., 2008)
Kid Eternity (Morrison & Fegredo, 1991)
Kill Your Boyfriend (Morrison & Bond, 1995)
King-Cat Comics and Stories #69 (Porcellino, 2008)
Kramers Ergot 4 (Harkham et al, 2003)
Kramers Ergot 5 (Harkham et al, 2004)
Kramers Ergot 6 (Harkham et al, 2006)
Kramers Ergot 7 (Harkham et al, 2008)
The Lagoon (Carre, 2008)
The Last Call Vol. 1 (Lolos, 2007)
The Last Lonely Saturday (Crane, 2000)
The Last Musketeer (Jason, 2008)
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier (Moore & O'Neill, 2007)
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol. 3: Century #1: 1910 (Moore & O'Neill, 2009)
Legion of Super-Heroes: The Great Darkness Saga (Levitz, Giffen, Mahlstedt, Bruning, 1991)
Little Things (Brown, 2008)
Look Out!! Monsters #1 (Grogan, 2008)
Lose #1-2 (DeForge, 2009-2010)
Lost Kisses #9 & 10 (Mitchell, 2009)
Love and Rockets: New Stories #1 (Los Bros Hernandez, 2008)
Low Moon (Jason, 2009)
The Mage's Tower (Milburn, 2008)
Maggots (Chippendale, 2007)
The Man with the Getaway Face (Cooke, 2010)
Mattie & Dodi (Davis, 2006)
McSweeney's Quarterly Concern #13 (Ware et al, 2004)
Mercury (Larson, 2010)
Mesmo Delivery (Grampa, 2008)
Micrographica (French, 2007)
Mister Wonderful (Clowes, 2007-2008)
Mome Vol. 4: Spring/Summer 2006 (various, 2006)
Mome Vol. 9: Fall 2007 (various, 2007)
Mome Vol. 10: Winter/Spring 2008 (various, 2008)
Mome Vol. 11: Summer 2008 (various, 2008)
Mome Vol. 12: Fall 2008 (various, 2008)
Mome Vol. 13: Winter 2009 (various, 2008)
Mome Vol. 14: Spring 2009 (various, 2009)
Mome Vol. 15: Summer 2009 (various, 2009)
Mome Vol. 16: Fall 2009 (various, 2009)
Mome Vol. 17: Winter 2010 (various, 2009)
Mome Vol. 18: Spring 2010 (various, 2010)
Mome Vol. 19: Summer 2010 (various, 2010)
Monkey & Spoon (Lia, 2004)
Monster Men Bureiko Lullaby (Nemoto, 2008)
Monsters (Dahl, 2009)
Monsters & Condiments (Wiegle, 2009)
Monstrosity Mini (Diaz, 2010)
Mother, Come Home (Hornschemeier, 2003)
The Mourning Star Vols. 1 & 2 (Strzepek, 2006 & 2009)
Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 (Petersen, 2008)
Mr. Cellar's Attic (Freibert, 2010)
Multiforce (Brinkman, 2009)
Multiple Warheads #1 (Graham, 2007)
My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down (Heatley, 2008)
The Mystery of Woolverine Woo-Bait (Coleman, 2004)
Naoki Urasawa's Monster Vols. 1-3 (Urasawa, 2006)
Naoki Urasawa's Monster Vols. 4-5 (Urasawa, 2006)
Naoki Urasawa's Monster Vols. 6-18 (Urasawa, 2006-2008)
Naoki Urasawa's 20th Century Boys Vols. 1-3 (Urasawa, 2009)
Naoki Urasawa's 20th Century Boys Vols. 4 & 5 (Urasawa, 2009)
Neely Covers Comics to Give You the Creeps! (Neely, 2010)
Neighbourhood Sacrifice (Davidson, DeForge, Gill, 2009)
Never Ending Summer (Cole, 2004)
Never Learn Anything from History (Beaton, 2009)
Neverland (Kiersh, 2008)
New Avengers #44 (Bendis & Tan, 2008)
New Construction #2 (Huizenga, May, Zettwoch, 2008)
New Engineering (Yokoyama, 2007)
New Painting and Drawing (Jones, 2008)
New X-Men Vol. 6: Planet X (Morrison & Jimenez, 2004)
New X-Men Vol. 7: Here Comes Tomorrow (Morrison & Silvestri, 2004)
Nicolas (Girard, 2008)
Night Business #1 & 2 (Marra, 2008 & 2009)
Night Business #3 (Marra, 2010)
Nil: A Land Beyond Belief (Turner, 2007)
Ninja (Chippendale, 2006)
Nocturnal Conspiracies (David B., 2008)
not simple (Ono, 2010)
The Numbers of the Beasts (Cheng, 2010)
Ojingogo (Forsythe, 2008)
Olde Tales Vol. II (Milburn, 2007)
One Model Nation (Taylor, Leitch, Rugg, Porter, 2009)
Or Else #5 (Huizenga, 2008)
The Other Side #1-2 (Aaron & Stewart, 2005)
Owly Vol. 4: A Time to Be Brave (Runton, 2007)
Owly Vol. 5: Tiny Tales (Runton, 2008)
Paper Blog Update Supplemental Postcard Set Sticker Pack (Nilsen, 2009)
Paradise Kiss Vols. 1-5 (Yazawa, 2002-2004)
The Perry Bible Fellowship Almanack (Gurewitch, 2009)
Peter's Muscle (DeForge, 2010)
Pim & Francie: The Golden Bear Days (Columbia, 2009)
Pixu I (Ba, Cloonan, Lolos, Moon, 2008)
Pizzeria Kamikaze (Keret & A. Hanuka, 2006)
Plague Hero (Adebimpe, 2009)
Planetary Book 3: Leaving the 20th Century (Ellis & Cassaday, 2005)
Planetes Vols. 1-3 (Yukimura, 2003-2004)
The Plot: The Secret Story of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion (Eisner, 2005)
Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka Vols. 1-3 (Urasawa, Nagasaki, Tezuka, 2009)
Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka Vols. 1-8 (Urasawa, Nagasaki, Tezuka, 2009-2010)
Pocket Full of Rain and Other Stories (Jason, 2008)
pood #1 (various, 2010)
Powr Mastrs Vol. 1 (C.F., 2007)
Powr Mastrs Vol. 2 (C.F., 2008)
Prison Pit: Book 1 (Ryan, 2009)
Prison Pit: Book 2 (Ryan, 2010)
Real Stuff (Eichhorn et al, 2004)
Red Riding Hood Redux (Krug, 2009)
Refresh, Refresh (Novgorodoff, Ponsoldt, Pierce, 2009)
Remake (Abrams, 2009)
Reykjavik (Rehr, 2009)
Ronin (Miller, 1984)
Rumbling Chapter Two (Huizenga, 2009)
The San Francisco Panorama Comics Section (various, 2010)
Scott Pilgrim Full-Colour Odds & Ends 2008 (O'Malley, 2008)
Scott Pilgrim Vol. 4: Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together (O'Malley, 2007)
Scott Piglrim Vol. 5: Scott Pilgrim vs. the Universe (O'Malley, 2009)
Scott Pilgrim Vol. 6: Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour (O'Malley, 2010)
Second Thoughts (Asker, 2009)
Service Industry (Bak, 2007)
Set to Sea (Weing, 2010)
Seven Soldiers of Victory Vols. 1-4 (Morrison et al, 2004)
Shenzhen (Delisle, 2008)
S.H.I.E.L.D. #1 (Hickman & Weaver, 2010)
Shitbeams on the Loose #2 (various, 2010)
Show Off (Burrier, 2009)
Siege (Bendis & Coipel, 2010)
Siberia (Maslov, 2008)
Skim (Tamaki & Tamaki, 2008)
Skyscrapers of the Midwest (Cotter, 2008)
Skyscrapers of the Midwest #4 (Cotter, 2007)
Sleeper Car (Ellsworth, 2009)
Sloe Black (DeForge)
Slow Storm (Novgorodoff, 2008)
Snake 'n' Bacon's Cartoon Cabaret (Kupperman, 2000)
Snake Oil #5: Wolf (Forsman, 2009)
Snow Time (Krug, 2010)
Solanin (Asano, 2008)
Soldier X #1-8 (Macan & Kordey, 2002-2003)
Speak of the Devil (G. Hernandez, 2008)
Spider-Man: Fever #1 (McCarthy, 2010)
Split Lip Vol. 1 (Costello et al, 2009)
Squadron Supreme (Gruenwald et al, 1986)
The Squirrel Machine (Rickheit, 2009)
Stay Away from Other People (Hannawalt, 2008)
Storeyville (Santoro, 2007)
Strangeways: Murder Moon (Maxwell, Garagna, Gervasio, Jok, 2008)
Studio Visit (McShane, 2010)
Stuffed! (Eichler & Bertozzi, 2009)
Sulk Vol. 1: Bighead & Friends (J. Brown, 2009)
Sulk Vol. 2: Deadly Awesome (J. Brown, 2009)
Sulk Vol. 3: The Kind of Strength That Comes from Madness (Brown, 2009)
Superman #677-680 (Robinson & Guedes, 2008)
Supermen! The First Wave of Comic Book Heroes 1936-1941 (Sadowski et al, 2009)
Sweet Tooth #1 (Lemire, 2009)
Tales Designed to Thrizzle #4 (Kupperman, 2008)
Tales Designed to Thrizzle #5 (Kupperman, 2009)
Tales Designed to Thrizzle #6 (Kupperman, 2010)
Tales of Woodsman Pete (Carre, 2006)
Tekkon Kinkreet: Black and White (Matsumoto, 2007)
Teratoid Heights (Brinkman, 2003) ADDTF version
Teratoid Heights (Brinkman, 2003) TCJ version
They Moved My Bowl (Barsotti, 2007)
Thor: Ages of Thunder (Fraction, Zircher, Evans, 2008)
Three Shadows (Pedrosa, 2008)
Tokyo Tribes Vols. 1 & 2 (Inoue, 2005)
Top 10: The Forty-Niners (Moore & Ha, 2005)
Travel (Yokoyama, 2008)
Trigger #1 (Bertino, 2010)
The Troll King (Karlsson, 2010)
Two Eyes of the Beautiful (Smith, 2010)
Ultimate Comics Avengers #1 (Millar & Pacheco, 2009)
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1 (Bendis & LaFuente, 2009)
Ultimate Spider-Man #131 (Bendis & Immonen, 2009)
The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite (Way & Ba, 2008)
Uptight #3 (Crane, 2009)
Wally Gropius (Hensley, 2010)
Watchmen (Moore & Gibbons, 1987) Part I
Water Baby (R. Campbell, 2008)
Weathercraft (Woodring, 2010)
Werewolves of Montpellier (Jason, 2010)
Wednesday Comics #1 (various, 2009)
West Coast Blues (Tardi & Manchette, 2009)
Wet Moon, Book 1: Feeble Wanderings (Campbell, 2004)
Wet Moon, Book 2: Unseen Feet (Campbell, 2006)
Weird Schmeird #2 (Smith, 2010)
What Had Happened Was... (Collardey, 2009)
Where Demented Wented (Hayes, 2008)
Where's Waldo? The Fantastic Journey (Handford, 2007)
Whiskey Jack & Kid Coyote Meet the King of Stink (Cheng, 2009)
Wiegle for Tarzan (Wiegle, 2010)
Wilson (Clowes, 2010)
The Winter Men (Lewis & Leon, 2010)
The Witness (Hob, 2008)
Wormdye (Espey, 2008)
Worms #4 (Mitchell & Traub, 2009)
Worn Tuff Elbow (Marc Bell, 2004)
The Would-Be Bridegrooms (Cheng, 2007)
XO #5 (Mitchell & Gardner, 2009)
You Are There (Forest & Tardi, 2009)
You'll Never Know Book One: A Good and Decent Man (Tyler, 2009)
Young Lions (Larmee, 2010)
Your Disease Spread Quick (Neely, 2008)
The Trouble with The Comics Journal's News Watch, Part I
KEEP COMICS EVIL
« December 2003 |
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January 2004 Archives
At least a half dozen people have written in to say that I may have been a little too hard on Boondocks creator Aaron McGruder in my post the other day. His strip's "Jacob the Jeweler" reference, which I took to be a thinly veiled Jewish-interloper gag, actualditily refers to a real-life Jeweler to the Hip-Hop Stars. Apparently the guy was mentioned by a lot of mc's this past year. The gist, as my Trusty Correspondents see it, is that McGruder is mocking not the intrusion of Jewishness into an African-American tradition, but the ominpresence of over-the-top materialism in said tradition. In that sense it's of a piece with the rim shop and liquor ads McGruder lampoons as well. My bad for not catching the reference--I don't get any music channels on TV, and I stay about as far away from the bling-bling rappers as physics allows.
About the argument itself: I buy it. A little bit. But here's the thing: If you look at the wording of the cartoon, Jacob the Jeweler is referred to, clearly with sarcastic intent, as "a proud African-American tradition." In other words, it's ethnicity being contrasted, not excess versus genuine holiday spirit or whatever else.
Clearly he's targeting the meaningless glorification of status symbols, which is admirable, but to me, at least, it appears that he's targeting more than that.
(I promise I won't be courting controversy by picking at political cartoonists all the time. I'll be talking about manga and Brian Bendis again in no time, I swear.)
Never mind the naysayers, and don't believe the anti-hype: Bill Sherman lays out many of the reasons Craig Thompson's Blankets is, in fact, one of the best comics of the year.
This neat interview with comics journalist Joe Sacco over at the L.A. Weekly has been linked to by various and sundry people, and it's definitely worth a read. Sacco's an artist of extraordinary talent and power, and there are passages in both his major journalistic works, Palestine and Safe Area Gorazde, among the most memorable and moving in recent comics history. However, I continue to find his coverage of the battle between Israelis and Palestinians myopically one-sided.
I do agree with Sacco in that the Israeli settlements are a needless, pointless provocation that ought to be stopped right away. There's simply no sense in hanging the fate of your entire country out to dry, and enabling your enemies to score innumerable propaganda points, on behalf of the group of Israelis who are least interested in secular democracy in the first place.
But Sacco has explicitly drawn the conclusion that the settlements, and the occupation generally, are the be-all end-all of the conflict, which is ludicrous. The fact must be faced that Palestinian civil society is in total nihilistic free fall. It's often referred to as a death cult, and with good reason: take a look, just by way of a for instance, at this assortment of sermons from various imams, all Palestinian Authority employees. This kind of thinking--and the actions that flow from them, specifically trotting children around in mock suicide-bomber vests and sending teenagers into pizzerias in real ones--is not going to stopped with a two-state solution, or increased negotiations, or anything like that. Dead Jews are the one and only goal, and even if Israel were to be completely wiped off the map, the jihad would go global in a heartbeat. This mindset, murderous to the point of cultural suicide, is far and away the preeminent obstacle to a peaceful settlement in the region right now.
I'm interested to see how Sacco addresses the Islamic death-cult mentality that has so overwhelmed Palestinian society since the start of the intifada in his new book on the region, but if his description of the issues at hand in the above interview is any indication, it will still tell only half the story.
(One of the unfortunate aspects of this situation is that, for me at least, it calls into question the accuracy of his reporting on the Balkan wars. And what with Serbian and Croatian nationalism on the comeback trail, we need journalists we can count on over there.)
Please excuse our appearance--the front page of ADDTF operates by date, not number, so since I went so long without posting over the holidays, it's gotten pretty sparse. I'll make up for it soon, I promise. (Now comes the part where I try to balance blogging, fiction writing, and job hunting. Oh yeah, and watching The Return of the King a few more times. Should be a pip.) In the meantime, why not check out the archives, over there on your left?
Also, here are a couple of highly enjoyable year-in-comics recaps from two of my comics blogfathers, NeilAlien, Strange-blogger Supreme and the ever-lovin' blue-eyed Bill Sherman. Jim "Not Hanley, nor his Universe" Henley also gets in on the act, somewhat irreverently; Franklin Harris puts in a mixed-media effort in his print column "Pulp Culture," also known as "I can't believe a newspaper prints a column this cool." And a tip of the hat to Alan David Doane for pointing me in the direction of this smart wrap-up by Shawn Hoke (permalink pending). In addition, Alan reports on the best comics-related news of 2004. Trust me--you might as well just declare that particular contest over right now.
And if you missed it, here's my Best-Of for the year. Read it again, for the first time!
I don't have the patience to do a proper Best Of 2003 so I'm just going to list some comics and if you want a more in-depth kinda deal maybe I'll link to some other people who've done that sort of thing
Which is a roundabout way of saying "Here's my Top 25 Comics Released in 2003 That I Read."
1. Epileptic Volume 1, by David B.
2. Shrimpy & Paul and Friends, by Marc Bell
3. Ultimate Spider-Man, by Brian Bendis & Mark Bagley
4. Alias, by Brian Bendis & Michael Gaydos
5. Ultimate Six, by Brian Bendis & Trevor Hairsine
6. Daredevil, by Brian Bendis & Alex Maleev
7. Powers, by Brian Bendis & Michael Oeming
8. Rubber Necker, by Nick Bertozzi
9. Teratoid Heights, by Mat Brinkman
10. Unlikely, by Jeffrey Brown
11. Black Hole, by Charles Burns
12. Ripple, by Dave Cooper
13. Squadron Supreme, by Mark Gruenwald & various artists
14. Kramers Ergot 4, by Sammy Harkham et al.
15. Palomar, by Gilbert Hernandez
16. The Ultimates, by Mark Millar & Brian Hitch
17. The Dark Knight Strikes Again, by Frank Miller & Lynn Varley
18. New X-Men, by Grant Morrison & various artists
19. The Filth, by Grant Morrison & Chris Weston
20. 100%, by Paul Pope
21. Supreme Power, by J. Michael Straczynski & Gary Frank
22. Blankets, by Craig Thompson
23. The Acme Novelty Date Book, by Chris Ware
24. Quimby the Mouse, by Chris Ware
25. The Frank Book, by Jim Woodring
For whatever reason, these were the books that got me really excited about comics this year. They were the pamphlets I could hardly wait to read, the graphic novels that floored me with the depth of their invention and enthusiasm, the hidden treasures from years past or countries abroad or scenes undiscovered. As you can see, if a meteor were to strike Fantagraphics headquarters tomorrow while Brian Michael Bendis was visiting for some reason (maybe to use the bathroom?), I'd have a lot fewer comics to read.
Again, this is just a list of great comics I actually read this year, which may explain the absence of several fan favorites (Louis Riel, The Fixer, Sleeper, Catwoman, Wanted). I decided to arbitrarily stop at Number 25, so my apologies to Ultimate X-Men, Arrowsmith, The Iron Wagon, Forlorn Funnies, Chrome Fetus, AEIOU, Maybe We Could Just Lie Here Holding Each Other Naked And Not Have Sex, Incredible Hulk, and so forth, some of which didn't make the cut, others of which I just forgot until I'd already written out the list and don't feel much like tinkering with it.
Other fine, more in-depth Best-Ofs are being brought to you by Johnny Bacardi, Jim Henley, Andrew Arnold, Chris Allen, Alan David Doane, Alan David Doane, and (you guessed it) Alan David Doane. Ninth Art has a bunch of year-end goodies, including Paul O'Brien's Year In Review, a sort of group anti-hug in the form of the 2003 Brickbat Awards parts one and two, and (not a year-end thing per se, but as this is the year I joined the comics blogosphere in earnest, it's useful to have a lexicon on hand) Andrew Wheeler's comics dictionary.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy New Year, Happy Festivus, and happy reading!
I sat there and watched the news in disbelief last night.
Disbelief that these fucking idiots got so upset about this.
Let me see if I can explain the source of my disconnect with the outrage here:
HE'S THE CROCODILE HUNTER.
The baby was never at risk. You know why? BECAUSE HE WAS BEING HELD BY HIS FATHER, THE CROCOFUCKINGDILE HUNTER.
Why do we need to even discuss this any further? I mean, if I saw someone holding their kid while feeding a crocodile, you know what I'd say? "Who does he think he is? The Crocodile Hunter?" And when I see the Crocodile Hunter holding his kid while feeding a crocodile, I say "Yep."
People are trying to compare this to the Michael Jackson balcony-dangling incident. But Michael Jackson's sobriquet is "The King of Pop," not "The Balcony Hunter." If he'd spent his entire life hunting balconies, then I wouldn't have complained about his baby-dangling incident, either.
People. Get a hold of yourselves.
HE'S THE CROCODILE HUNTER.
Phoebe Gloeckner is blogging!
Actually, expect some big Phoebe Gloeckner-related developments on my blog by Monday...
A big day for the blog! I am thrilled to be able to publish, for the first time anywhere, an interview I conducted with cartoonist, novelist, and illustrator Phoebe Gloeckner on April 24th, 2003. Iíve also included, again for the first time anywhere, a self-portrait in photo essay form created by Ms. Gloeckner to accompany the piece, which was originally intended for publication (in a much edited form) in the late, lamented Abercrombie & Fitch Quarterly.
Phoebeís work first came to my attention when I was preparing for a writing project of my own that centered around a teenage girl. Looking for other comics on the subject, I came across her two books, A Childís Life and Diary of a Teenage Girl. Quite simply, I was astounded not only by the candidly and sometimes brutally harsh content, but by the incredible storytelling and artistic skill and (yes) beauty through which she conveyed it.
ACL (a comics collection) and DOATG (an innovative hybrid novel consisting of fictionalized journal entries, comics, and illustrations in a variety of styles) tell the story of Minnie Goetze, a smart, talented, and powerfully alive young woman whose unconventional upbringing and frequent immersion in abusive and dangerous relationships do little to dampen her lust for life, in both the Iggy Pop and Vincent Van Gogh senses of the phrase. I know, I know, Iíve made it sound trite, and itís anything but. Actually, itís one of the most singularly powerful comics-reading experiences Iíve ever had, and I confidently rank Phoebe among the four or five greatest living English-language cartoonists. (You can find out more about Phoebe by going to her webpage, or reading her new blog.)
As the date of the interview may indicate, quite a few publication deadlines came and went since it was conducted; the vagaries of our production schedule at the A&F Quarterly prevented this interview from seeing the light of day, and the cancellation of the Quarterly made this state of affairs a permanent one. What better way to kick off what I hope will be a series of interviews with comics professionals on this blog, then, than by finally giving the piece, and the extraordinary illustration that accompanies it, the airing it deserves?
The interview was conducted in the cafť of the photography studio we originally conducted Phoebeís photo shoot in; the photos were later deemed unsatisfactorily representative of the real Phoebe (ďI felt like a drag queen,Ē she remarked), and a self-portrait was commissioned. The photo essay was the result.
A note about my interviewing style: A&F Quarterly pieces were much bigger than blurbs, but nowhere near the 40-page monstrosities youíd see in a mag like The Comics Journal, for example. In cases like Phoebeís, they were also intended for an audience that probably never had heard of the interview subject before. So my interviews were always a weird amalgam of entry-level questions that I knew would make it into the edited version, and specialist questions asked for the benefit and enjoyment of myself (and, hopefully, the subject). They also tended to be quite conversational; this went double in Phoebeís case, as she was one of the most disarming personalities Iíd ever encountered. (When she entered the studio, she walked up to me and started talking to me like weíd met many times before, and thatís how things went from there; however, Iíll admit to plying her with Mike & Ikes, which may have contributed to this somewhat.) I'm also very much a fan of her work, and as you'll see, it shows.
The interview can be found by scrolling past the illustration; Iíve broken it into several subsections for ease of reading. Enjoy!
interviewed by Sean T. Collins
24 April 2003
SEAN T. COLLINS:Iíll start with this question, because I know youíve answered it a million times--
PHOEBE GLOECKNER: Itís not about me. Is that what you were gonna say?
There you go! Well, youíre reluctant to classify your work as autobiographical. I know youíve talked about it a billion times, but I figured Iíd ask for our readers who may not know your work already: Why is that?
I am an empty shell of a person, I donít have any personality, and I can fake it in my character. Okay? Itís not me. I donít know what to say. I donít think my work is any more autobiographical than anyone elseís work. I think--really, for the human being, there is no such thing as truth. I mean, there is no such thing as veracity. It just sounds like existential bullshit that Iím saying, but I really think itís true. I would never claim to understand anything, much less be able to recite the truth about anything or any event that I witnessed. So what does autobiography mean? I think itís a misnomer. I donít think there is any such thing. I mean--history: What is history? You know? Itís one personís or a group of personsí perspective on things that happen. You know, Iíve talked about this so much--
I know. Youíve gotta be sick of it by now, too, huh?
Yeah, yeah. (sighing)
Do you think you get asked it more because youíre a woman?
I donít know. Why are you asking me?
I figured it would be interesting to--
--to hear the same answer again?
Well, because the people who read the A&F Quarterly probably havenít heard it before, you know what I mean?
Oh yeah. Well, did you ask that guy David Amsden? (author of Important Things That Donít Matter, shot earlier in the same studio where we shot Phoebe--ed.) Did you ask him if his story was true?
I didnít interview him.
Because someone else did.
Ok, so did they ask him if his work was --
I donít know. Iíve been trying to think about this, because--
Ok, your wife. You said she read my book or something?
Ok, did you guys ever talk about whether it was true or not?
And what was your conclusion? Is it true?
I guess thatís what we thought.
Or you assumed?
Right, right. I mean, from your point of view.
Right. So you think Iím Minnie, me?
You look a lot alike.
(laughs) No, but--so thatís what you think? You think Iím Minnie?
I guess so. Man, you are totally turning the tables on me.
well, no. but I really donít understand what other people think. I donít experience my work the way other people experience it. I mean, I donít wonder as Iím working on something if this is about me or not. It doesnít enter my head.
Obviously, people say that everything that a given artist does is autobiographical in some way.
You know--you donít just pull it out of the sky.
Thatís what always say. Thatís my word.
Itís always relevant to you in some way. And people who write fiction thatís never mistaken for anything but fiction work in scenes from their own life or conversations that they had.
Woody Allen. I mean, is everything true? Itís not a matter of true or not. Any way itís so bull--Look, if I said it were true, my mother would put me in jail, so even if it is true I canít say so. My mother--yeah--um-- in that sense, yeah, I am Minnie. Iím this little teenager, middle-aged teenager under the thumb of my mother. And Iím scared.
Well, thatís not what I meant.
I just meant you were that at one point. Maybe.
I think part of what makes people ask is that itís rough stuff. I think people glom on to stories about prisoners of war, or people who survive bad car accidents or natural disasters or shoot-outs and bank robbery or whatever. Survivor stories.
And you want to know whatís going on, since a lot of the material is upsetting.
Look, give me anybodyís life, I can make a car wreck out of it. I mean, who doesnít have a car wreck? Does it seem sensational or something?
No, itís doesnít sensationalize. Itís doesnít have this ďOh, woe is me feelĒ nor ďyou bastards who did mean things to Minnie.Ē It doesnít have a lot of self-pity, and not a lot of condemnation either. Is that how you would look at it?
(pause) Sorry, Iím just thinking. No, Iím a person who is generally full of hatred and venom. Honestly. And vindictiveness. And full of resentments of all sorts. But yet, I feel like itís always giving me power. Thatís a source of energy for me. I like feeling mad. And if it doesnít come out in my books, I donít know why.
When youíre writing or drawing, are you pissed off?
Yeah, sometimes. But Iím also--Iíve never felt sorry for myself, though. But now Iím talking about myself as though Iím that character, which of course Iím not. I think anybody in their life is drawn to experience. Some people are afraid of it, but they wanna go close to it. Maybe thatís what the fascination is with reading books like this or about car wrecks or prisoners of war--because people are drawn towards experience. And so anyway the teenager in this book, in a sense, is very innocent. And sheís just in a situation where the adults around her arenít really looking out for her best interests. But she goes along with it because basically she doesnít know any better, and like any teenager she wants experience. But unfortunately sheís not with a group of other teenagers her age, and theyíre not doing normal kid things. But I think itís basically situational, because I think in a lot of ways sheís just a typical teenager in that sense. They donít think theyíre ever gonna die, they wanna try everything, find out who they are, see where they fit in the world.
Do you hear from people who are in similar situations?
Yeah. And people who arenít too.
Was than an intention of yours when you set about doing this?
No. I donít know why I feel like such a, um, bad person to interview. I mean, my experience, when Iím doing a comic or a book or something, is totally solitary. I hate telling people what Iím working on. I hate sharing it and running it by people. Iím just not that type of artist. A lot of people, cartoonists I know, they are collaborative and they like to talk about their work and run things by other people. Iím just not like that. My experience of it--I get totally--I mean in a way Minnie is me, because when Iím drawing a character or writing a characterís part I totally feel it. I get real upset. I get angry (laughs). If Iím drawing somebody else--thereís a character named Monroe, and if Iím drawing him, I find myself making the expressions that Iím drawing. Iím trying to feel like this sloppy drunk. Whatever Iím doing, whatever person Iím trying to give a voice to, I get really into it. I donít know--I always assumed that everyone had that experience when theyíre creating art. But when I describe my process or when I describe how I think Minnie is not really me and this thing about the truth--either Iím explaining myself very poorly or I have a very different experience of creating a story than other people do, and I just donít get that. But thatís happened to me a lot. I know a lot of times I feel a certain way, and people are surprised, and I donít understand what the hell theyíre surprised about. So, Iím never quite sure, you know?
The politics of comics; Girls on film
(pause --Phoebe looks at Seanís notes)
Whatís this about a ghetto?
Ah, there we go! Thank you for giving me a transition! The ďWomen in ComicsĒ Ghetto.
Who are they?
No --itís just that--
I told you, I donít wanna be a girl, I donít wanna be female. Just think of me as one of the guys. You can be a chick.
But thatís what Iím saying. My hunch is that people often approach your work as, ďWeíre gonna do an article and itís gonna be Phoebe Gloeckner and Debbie Dreschler and Trina Robbins, etc.Ē And itís, like, ďWomen in Comics,Ē whereas itís not gonna be ďMen in ComicsĒ with Dan Clowes--
Right. I think, in my heart of hearts --I might sound like an asshole--but I think that my drawing or my stories are as good as many male cartoonists.
However, Iím never included in anything--
Iíll put it to you this way. The reason I started reading your stuff is because I was working on a comic about a teenage girl, and I was like, ďLetís see what other people have done about it.Ē And I was pissed that it had taken me so long to find your work. I was pissed that people arenít talking about you.
Iím totally ignored.
Yeah, and I really--Now Iím gonna sound like an ass-kisser, which Iím not trying to be. But if youíre werenít as good as you were, I wouldnít be as pissed. I think this (taps on copy of Diary of a Teenage Girl) is every bit as good as Acme or Eightball or whatever. And why isnít this, yíknow-- I was really irritated.
No, Iím really irritated too, to tell you the truth, but Iím an irritable person, like I said. So I donít know how much of it is me doing the sour grapes thing. Iím a very hard worker and I feel like I generally try to do my best. Iím just talking about my work ethic. Yeah, Iím largely ignored. Totally ignored. I had this big break: Someone interviewed me for the New York Times Magazine. Two years ago. And it was someone outside of comics who just happened to find my work. Okay, basically, that was it. It was a fluke, an accident. And I feel really fortunate though, because--(pause) Now Iím at a loss for words. I think itís so complicated. I do feel kinda --wait. Donít listen to me--What am I saying? How do I feel? I wonder. I donít know. I wish you could tell me. How much of is it because Iím a woman that Iím ignored? Or maybe people just donít like the stories. Maybe they donít like the subject matter. Maybe they just donít like it. Maybe they donít like my drawings. I mean, The Comics Journalís never interviewed me.
Thereís only so much I could go into the politics of comics.
But I wish you could tell me, not even in print. ĎCause I donít get it. ĎCause they interviewed everybody, people who have hardly done anything, and Iíve been around for a long time.
I really donít understand it. I feel like a project like Diary of a Teenage Girl, because thereís prose in it--where do they put it in a bookstore? Like a regular bookstore. That seems like the kind of thing that the mainstream companies are dying to do: to get stuff into bookstores. They make a big deal when something breaks outside of the insular world of comics. And this, by its very nature, is outside of comics. And that seems like the kind of thing that the comics press would want to investigate and talk about, even aside from the fact that itís awesome, which it really is.
And thatís why I wanted to interview you.
Well, ever since I was a kid--you know, Iíve been doing comics for a long time. And very often theyíve had sexual content in them, which always felt perfectly natural and not particularly gratuitous to me. And it always seemed to me when I was making my comics--(sighs) I feel so stupid after that photo shoot.
They (the crew) were having a great time. I can tell you they enjoyed -
--watching me jump around like an idiot?
No, not watching you jump around like an idiot. They thought they were getting something good.
Yeah, they were fun. Okay, what do I want to say? Iíll ask you: What do you think my stuff is about? Fuck, I donít know what to say, because I have no idea how other people look at my work, okay? And I think part of my confusion is because Iím not really a cartoonist, because Iíve been largely ignored by the cartooning world.
Were you involved when Raw was going on?
And youíre not published by Fantagraphics. I feel like both of that explains a lot.
Yeah, I guess so.
I guess Drawn and Quarterly is a big deal, too.
No, they never published me, either. In fact they asked me to do a story once, and they said theyíd have to see roughs.
Are you shitting me?
And I told them, ďSorry. I canít do it.Ē
So how do I look at your stuff? I do look at it as autobiographical, but itís better than most autobiographical comics for a variety of reasons. First of all, if it is autobiographical, youíve had a very interesting life. Itís not just like, ďOh, Iím in high school or college, and I really like music, and this other girl kinda likes music, and we start listening to records together, and it looks like itís going somewhere, and then things kinda get weird, and we go our separate ways, and I look back on it years later.Ē (apologies to whichever denizen of the Comics Journal message board I stole that summary of autobio comix from --ed.)
Thatís kinda the story, though! (laughs)
Well, itís sort of, but that seems to be the bread-and-butter twentysomething autobio, which is dull and done to death, and thereís more interesting things going on. So in terms of the kind of plot you can get out of an autobiographical comic, itís interesting. Secondly, you also can draw really, really well in a variety of styles.
Itís my pleasure. And that makes it really, really compelling. The overall voice that emerges is so different than what I call ďSensitive 19-Year-Old ComicsĒ: the usual guy-written autobiographical comic, characterized by a scene where the protagonist is hanging out with some girl, and sheís sitting somewhere looking uncomfortable in panties. She wonít be naked, but sheíll be topless.
This is what you do?
No, this is not what I do. This is what I think a lot of autobio comics do. I call it Sensitive 19-Year-Old Comics because it happened when they were 19, and theyíre too sensitive to show the girl naked, because that would make them some troglodyte. Theyíre not a troglodyte--of course not! Theyíre really sensitive to her needs and feelings--but they still wanna see their titties. Hence the topless girl sitting around in panties.
And me, on the other hand: I like to draw pictures of guys from behind with their balls hanging out, because I think itís kinda funny. (laughs) No. I want to make a movie. And I keep talking about it, but I really really wanna do it. And I see so many things that piss me off. Things like Lolita really piss me off. And this movie I want to make, itís gonna be so much from a girlís point of view, like I wanted the book to be. Itís hard, because weíre trained to see things from a manís point of view. Even women expect the woman to take her shirt off in the movie. Those images become sexualized to women, too. Because thatís what means sex in this society: the naked woman picture. I mean, maybe thatís changing. I really like this (taps on issue of A&F Quarterly) because youíve got lots of men, which is just as erotic as the girls and naked women, letís face it--and women respond to it. Theyíre just not accustomed to it, thatís all. Youíre so used to being bombarded with these female images.
And I think guys respond to it too. We have a big gay audience, but we also have football players and frat boys and lacrosse players. They love the clothes and the whole aesthetic, and they donít even pick up on, perhaps, what theyíre responding to.
Look, isnít there something sensual about that? I say there is. And itís also a matter of weíre all human and we have a certain amount of self-love, right? And itís this narcissism thatís natural and keeps us alive. And so looking at pictures of people of our own sex, itís sexual. But I think that the laws about pornography--I mean, you can show a woman with her legs spread and some spray on her to make her look like sheís all hot and bothered, right? And then you canít show an erect penis. I mean, tell me why? Iíve said this before, but, a man can pick up a Playboy and see a beaver shot and jerk off on it thinking, ďOh, she wants to get fuckedĒ. But Playgirl magazine has flaccid penises. I mean, whoís gonna pick that up and think, ďHe wants to fuck meĒ? Youíre not. I think those laws were made because men are homophobic and also afraid of womenís sexuality. Itís men who make those laws. Itís really totally arbitrary and doesnít make a lot of sense to me. And so the sexuality has been kinda trained out of women and homosexual men in our society. Itís not expressed. Maybe itís beginning to be expressed. Anyway, this pisses me off. Thatís why (slamming hand on book) Iím fighting against it, and (sighs) I hope Iím not the only one. But Iím glad to see this, Iím glad to see this (patting the Quarterly).
So, youíre trying to make a movie out of Diary of a Teenage Girl?
Yeah. Iím not really adapting it so much. Itís gonna be a movie with a similar tale.
I feel like people might hear that and theyíll think like a Larry Clark or Harmony Korine thing.
Who are they?
They did Kids.
Oh, no no no. I want to make it more like a Steven Spielberg film.
Big! Beautiful! (laughs)
This is my dream, ok? Also, did you see Irreversible? Gaspar Noť?
No, but I know who youíre talking about.
Yeah, that was kinda cool too. If you can imagine Gaspar Noť mixed with Steven Spielberg. A few little button-pushing emotional things that make you cry, but big, beautiful scenes of San Francisco and shots in a helicopter. And, you know, justÖ big.
Thatís the opposite of what people would expect.
I know. I tell my husband that, and heís disgusted, too. Heíd prefer something like Kids, but Iím like, ďNooo!Ē
Iíve got you under my skin
In addition to comics and now film, you also do medical illustration. The first things I ever saw of yours were the illustrations that you did for J.G. Ballardís The Atrocity Exhibition, and I was thinking what a weird melding of right- and left-brain thinking--to do those very particular illustrations, but then make art happen. How do you go about doing that?
I donít know. In my comics or my novel or whatever, Iím really trying to understand something which to me is new and incomprehensible and really deep about a personality or peopleís motivations. Itís more of a psychological thing. But in the medical art Iím looking for the same thing. It's this--have you read that book Nausea? You know, Jean-Paul Sartre?
No, I havenít read Nausea either. Youíre making me feel very culturally illiterate.
Just with that one mention? Okay. No. Itís this feeling when you finally, suddenly in a moment, unexpectedly realize your humanity. You realize the physicality of your being. We walk around all the time forgetting that weíve got this body. And when you suddenly at any particular moment are able to really feel that--that you really are a body--itís almost sickening to realize that. And when you go deeper, like when youíre having sex, you want to know, what does that look like inside? Whatís going on? I wanted to study medical art so I could go look at surgery, so I could see autopsies, so I could touch the inside of peopleís bodies. But I didnít wanna be a doctor. Unless you take anatomy for artists, you never really get the privilege of seeing living people operated on, or seeing people who are freshly dead. Something about it brings you so close to what it is to be human: always so precariously nearly dead, and so lucky to be alive. I mean, itís such an accident that any of us are born. Anyway, thatís what motivates me either way. To me they seem almost the same: wanting to know and understand the psychological motivation and then wanting to understand, more deeply, whatís inside.
So youíre saying you just wanted to see, you just wanted to feel. Itís almost satisfying a curiosity. Itís not making any big claims about what it is to be human: whether itís good or bad.
No, itís not good or bad. I mean, nothing is good or bad. We only see it that way. Thinking makes it so. Honi soit qui mal y pense. Our system of morality is something weíve built to keep us safe, because human beings have learned that certain things work for us and certain things donít, but that doesnít make them good or bad. That thing where they say you can tell if someoneís crazy by whether or not they know right from wrong--to me that sounds absolutely ridiculous, because what is right and what is wrong?
Like Charles Manson or Jeffrey Dahmer. Yes, they knew that killing was wrong, so they were legally sane. But Jeffrey Dahmer made an altar out of body parts and was praying it to get powers like the Emperor had in Return of the Jedi. Thatís not sane.
Thatís not sane. But is it any less sane than me sitting there thinking about what blowjobs look like in cross-section? Why am I thinking about that? You could say Iím crazy, you could say heÖ I mean, I donít know.
Well, maybe it has something to do with the outlet. You drew it, and he would actually chop someoneís head off.
Yeah--and I would do it too if I thought I could get away with it. And if I thought it wouldnít hurt them. But see, thatís what I know. I know it would hurt them and I wouldnít want to hurt them. So is that knowing right from wrong? Maybe. Itís compassion. I can feel compassion.
Teenage rampage; Life, the universe, and everything
That actually brings me to another question. When you do work that can be seen as autobiographical, youíre also writing about, not just yourself, but the other people that you come in contact with. How does that affect people that you know, who may see themselves in a given character?
Since those people donít exist, I donít know.
Again, itís my perspective. And Iím sure itís very far from how they would see themselves. No one is there to say anything to me. I donít think they even see the work, but I donít know.
When you write about a teenager, I feel like thereís a natural tendency to condescension, because youíre older and youíre writing it, ostensibly, for older people. Thereís a tendency to be like, ďOh, look at this silly girl. Arenít you glad that you and I know better now?Ē But I think you avoided that. How did you do that?
I never thought teenagers were silly. Never did. Even when I was a teenager. I mean, I know from experience and you probably do as well. Actually, when youíre a teenager, you feel things very, very strongly. Everything is new and everything is very, very important. Why would that be silly? Because later on you become so inured to it, that youíre just kinda dulled? Thatís the sad thing. Thatís thing to laugh about.
One thing thatís always bothered me is when people pick on a particular type of story like thatís an ďadolescent thing.Ē And comics in particular. Iím a superhero guy, and I donít care that thatís not a cool thing to be or whatever, because I also read alternative stuff, and itís all the same to me as long as itís good. And it bothers the hell out of me the way people reflexively say, ďItís an adolescent male power fantasy. Itís teenage boys looking for something jerk off to.Ē What is so bad about being a teenage boy? Why is that the ultimate put-down? If you really wanna diss something and make the creator feel awful and shit on a book, you say itís for adolescent boys. It bothers me, because they canít help that theyíre adolescent boys. And I remember when I was an adolescent boy and I read The Dark Knight Returns for the first time, or Watchmen, the stuff meant so much to me. And I know people who are gay who have X-Men tattoos, who love that shit, so itís not really an adolescent-male-power-fantasy-over-women thing. For the girls, itís ďteeny boppers are the worst things in the world and theyíre ruining music.Ē Whether itís teenage boys with metal or teenage girls with pop, people act like itís the teenage audience thatís ruining music. Iím just like, ďfuck you.Ē
Right. What does it matter? The funny thing is, my husband really likes music so he feels he has a really sophisticated taste in music. Whereas I like pop music, and I like metal, and I tend to make lots of stupid butt jokes and fart jokes. He always says that I have the mentality of a 12-year-old boy. I make dirty jokes that I think are hilarious and heís too sophisticated to think theyíre funny. But he always says that to me, and itís like the ultimate put-down he can always tell me. And I like to fight too. I donít know why. I was born like that. My dad fought. And my husband always says, again, that Iím acting like a 12-year-old boy. And itís too bad. Iíve never even known many teenage boys --ever, really --because I was scared of them. But I donít think thereís anything wrong with them. And youíre still something of a teenage boy at heart.
Yeah, I mean, definitely.
Well, I like the same things that I liked when I was a teenager.
I do too. And maybe thatís one of the reasons why I wouldnít think that I would condescend to a teenager. I think some of the things that I discovered when I was a teenager were so powerful to me. They still are. They still sustain me in many ways. I donít think itís silly. I wouldnít say, ďOh, itís so stupid, I liked it when I was a teenager.Ē
Well, speaking on my own behalf, Iím married to the girl I was going out with when I was 16. I have this job that is just, like, arrested-development city. I interview the comic people that I like, the authors that I like, the musicians that I like, many of whom I liked when I was in adolescence. I still spend all my money on books and cds and comics and dvds, the same stuff I was buying when I was a teenager. And my wifeís a teacher, and she comes home everyday with stories, everyday (voice cracks)--Oh, gee, my voice is cracking like a teenager. And she comes home with stories about how insightful or inspiring her teenage students are. And what is appealing to me and my wife about your book was that it didnít feel condescending at all.
And I hope it didnít feel condescending to anybody. Because the matter of fact is, I love all the characters. This sounds so stupid, but a lot of my motivation for doing things is that Iím just a confused person. I love and hate things so strongly and often at the same time. And when Iím making a book or something--drawing the people, writing the book- itís almost like Iím playing with dolls. I can feel them and hold them and move them around. Itís such pleasure to me. And youíre right, I donít judge them, simply because I donít think that I understand right from wrong. (laughs) Mark me as crazy! Actually, I do watch Court TV all the time when Iím drawing. And it scares me. Itís so fascinating to see the defense lawyers. And I saw this fascinating trial of David Westerfield, the guy who killed his neighbor, murdered the little girl. And he seemed like such a straight engineer, living in this wealthy more or less upper-middle-class neighborhood. And his defense lawyer knew all along that he probably did it, because they were doing some plea bargain with him before the trial. He was about to admit he knew where the body was and they would give him some lesser sentence, but then they found the body on their own and they took it all away. But his defense lawyer obviously knew that this man was guilty of killing a child and doing God knows what else. And yet the defense lawyerís job was to defend this man. And at that point this question of right or wrong totally deteriorates. Itís our system of justice, based on the fact that everyone needs a defense and deserves a defense. Evil things, things like murder, are done, and somebody did them. And you may very well know that youíre defending someone who is guilty, but yet your belief in the system that says everyone needs a defense is stronger than your belief that this person needs to be punished. Itís got to be. And so itís an idealistic thing. Youíre fighting not so much for this person but youíre fighting for a belief in the system. And to me thatís like totally schizophrenic. But at the same time itís fascinating. And itís also fascinating to try to understand why someone would do something like that. And I donít understand it at all. And why am I getting on this track? Itís just this idea of being judgmental. Sometimes I think I am, because so many things just--it doesnít boil down to logic. It boils down to this bubbling seething mass of possibility and things go one way or another and... I donít know. Things donít make perfect sense. And religion and art are two things that are abstract that we try to explain life with, and we donít know if we have any answers. There was something I really wanted to say, but I canít get at itÖ What Iím getting down to is that you can understand anybodyís motivation if you want to. I could go talk to David Westerfield. I could take his face in my hands. Look him in the eye. Feel his scalp. Feel his pulse on his neck. I could do this and talk to him until I felt like I understand why he did what he did. And at some point I could understand it. It doesnít mean I would do it. But I could understand it and feel how he felt he could do that and was allowed to do that at that moment. And I mean, when youíre able to say you can understand anybody, or itís possible to whether youíre capable of it or not, then how can you judge anybody? Itís kinda scary actually. Because if everyone was like that and they were thinking in this way, then weíd just have anarchy.
To me, political good, moral good, the goal of all of that, is to maximize the amount of choice that everyone has to do what they want and be what they want. And the way you determine if something is bad is if itís adversely affecting someone elseís ability to be free and to choose freely. I donít know if itís from being a Tolkien fan or a Star Wars fan, or if itís just a kinder, gentler, bastardized version of Aleister Crowley, but I do believe in right and wrong very strongly. And to me what it is right is making sure people are free to do the good thatís in their heart to do.
Thatís also very Quaker. I grew up Quaker, going to Quaker schools. And it was always like, ďYou donít need an intermediary between you and God. Godís inside of everybody. And you only need look inside yourself and find this inner light and that will inform you and you will know who God is, what God is.Ē
When I developed this code, I was in a sense bypassing God and going to the spirit of man and the spirit of humanity. Kinda like the Force (laughs). Actually, I do believe in the mystical/supernatural/spiritual kind of side of things. In the end, I think that inside each of us is something to be true to--something that people were put on this earth to be true to.
I believe that too. But it does have something to do with letting other people believe it exists at the same time, and they may even be wrong. Which is easy in retrospect. Itís not easy in real life every day. Because things bug you that people do, even your wife or husband or whatever.
I wanted to ask you about Pascal, Minnieís former quasi-stepdad in Diary of a Teenage Girl. Probably one of my favorite parts of the book, in a weird way, is how you really believe just from his letters to Minnie that heís not perfect, heís a little weird, he doesnít really know how to relate to people, but he has Minnieís best interest at heart. He really is looking out for her, he cares about her in some way, heís trying to keep her away from this other guy --and then you find out he was fucking this other teenage girl. In other words, it took one to know one essentially, and thatís where he was coming from with his ďconcern.Ē
But he probably did still really care about her.
Then why did he do what he did?
To the other girl?
It wasnít her.
I guess it was just a heart-breaking part of the novel, because I read A Childís Life one day and then DOATG over the next three days, and my wife was two days behind me each time. She got to a certain point in the book and she was like, ďThis Pascal guy whoís writing her, is he the same guy whoís really mean to her in A Childís Life?Ē And I was like, ďYeah, no, he seems like a pretty good guy, ultimately.Ē
But itís always this twisted thing.
Exactly--then I got to the point where you find out what he was up to with this other girl, and I couldnít believe it, because I fell hook line and sinker for it.
The character is that type. Heís a man who did want to love and care for other people, but he was also really selfish and insecure, but he was very intelligent. Like in A Childís Life, he really did want to make this a family. He was a Scotsman. He wanted to make this nuclear family out of these broken parts and adopt Minnie and her sister. He wanted to. But something in him was so threatened by it that he had to break everything. And he did that repeatedly in A Childís Life, when he finally said, ďAfter you questioned me all those times, I canít possibly even consider adopting you.Ē And he did the same thing when he was sleeping with her friend. In a sense, itís weird, because sleeping with her friend is almost a surrogate for sleeping with her. He seemed to have this very caring relationship with her, writing her these letters and everything else. But it wasnít the physical thing. But at the same time it was like a betrayal because he wasnít sleeping with her. So did that mean he loved this other girl more? I mean, itís like a sick thing for Minnie, who was so accustomed to being sexualized inappropriately. She might even feel betrayed because it was this other girl and not her. But at the same time she feels sick because she knows it would be wrong. So essentially she had to cut herself off not only from his sickness but from his care for her. Because I do think he did care for her. And in a way that was actually helpful. He was telling her she was smart, and no one else was. So she was getting that from him. But that had to end after this thing with her friend. I mean, everything had to end. And that is very sad, because she had to lose everything. I donít know if itís painted this way, but I think Pascal was a kinda fucked up person. But it wasnít to his advantage. He was hurting himself too. You donít ever see him in that book; itís just the letters. Does that make sense? Because it is the feeling that he was hope for her. Yeah.
Music; The big finish
This question is sort of just for me, but I really liked Minnieís taste in music, because it was so ecumenical. Sheíd be like, ďI went to the store and I got Bowie, Pink Floyd and Donna Summer,Ē and I was like, ďOh my God, thatís so awesome,Ē because thatís my iPod. What kind of music do you listen to now?
I like anything. I seem to like anything with a beat and a rise and a swell that kinda takes my heart along with it. I donít know how to describe that. It doesnít have to be rock and roll, it doesnít have to be anything. Itís just gotta be something that... I like voices with a lot of feeling in them. How do you describe it? I donít know. You might argue that Bowieís kinda cold or something, but heís not.
What I liked about it in the book was that I used to hate disco. I used to hate a lot of things, actually, but I just donít have the energy to hate any type of music at this point. I may hate a particular artist because I just think theyíre full of shit. But anyway, someone had a Barry White collection my sophomore year in college. And I appreciated it for kitsch value. But when I read the liner notes, which were written during the grunge era when disco was really being shit on, Barry was like, ďDisco was about people going out and feeling beautiful --Ē
People feeling themselves--
And the music was beautiful, and having a good time, and feeling good about yourself. And I had never heard it put that way, because I always just thought of John Travolta in a white suit. And I was like, ďJesus!Ē You know?
And you can feel that. And some of my best experiences growing up as a teenager in the 70s, walking down the street at night and just passing bar after bar that I couldnít go into because I was a teenager and seeing disco lights in the street and hearing disco music. I just loved it. Nothing better than walking at night and listening to that in all these places. But you made me think of something. Iíve always loved disco music. And in the late 70s I became a punk rocker and cut off all my hair and safety pins and all that crap and went to London --you know, all that shit. But I was one of the only punks who loved disco. I loved it. But I have to admit. I always hated hippies.
Well, I think thereís something a little bit self-righteous about a lot of hippies. I canít even imagine being in San Fransisco in the 70s.
Yeah, they disgusted me. I can remember feeling repulsed by the hippies. Deadheads.
I really do have a hard time now getting worked up about genres of music, though. It just seems silly.
But some of my favorite musicians --like Janis Joplin, I just love. But to me she was never a hippie. She was sweet and generous. She was something different.
Even as into glam as I am--which sometimes youíll see described as a reaction to Creedence Clearwater--I love CCR.
But nothing is a reaction, because what self-respecting musician or artist would just do something in reaction to someone else?
Even Bowie --in ďAll the Young DudesĒ he was dissing the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, and then heís like recording with John Lennon and hanging out with Mick Jagger within two years of that. Anyway, after that I got into funk music--
James Brown, Sly and the Family Stone, Head Hunters. Then I would listen to K.C. and the Sunshine Band or the stuff that Donna Summer did, and I was like, ďI understand this now!Ē The beat, the syncopation--
It was beautiful. Like, ďI Feel LoveĒ--it takes up your whole heart!
And you can hear where bands like Underworld where are coming from, this huge emotional--
Yeah. And the beat is the heartbeat. Do you know Lucinda Williams at all?
Yeah, but I havenít really heard much by her.
I really liked her at one point. I donít know if youíre this type, but I get stuck on one record and I keep listening to it again and again. Just pushing the same buttons in my brain or something. And then I get sick of and come back to it later. Anyway, I was listening to that, and then I got Led Zeppelin. And see, I hated Led Zeppelin when I was a teenager. But I listened to Led Zeppelin and itís really good! That record, you know, ďStairway to Heaven,Ē thatís a great record! But it was so funny because she takes some of these same riffs, directly plops them into her music, but if you listen to her music as a whole youíre not gonna say she sounds like Led Zeppelin. But itís like an homage to Led Zeppelin. Sheís just taking it and using it in a different way. But itís just so fascinating. Iím not a musician, so I just, I love music. Yeah, see, I will listen to Led Zeppelin really loud in the car.
Yeah, fuckiní A!
Yeah, fuckiní A! See, thatís why my husband says Iím like a 12-year-old boy. But--
Led Zeppelin specifically, I donít know if I could imagine what my life would be like without them. That 10 CD box set of theirs was like the Rosetta Stone for me when I was younger. And I think weíre fortunate to live in a time where you can download individual songs, and have on your iPod 500 songs or whatever. Today on the walk over here, I was listening to ďAutomaticĒ by the Pointer Sisters and ďRocky Mountain WayĒ by Joe Walsh. You canít think of two songs written by two more different people for more different purposes, and neither is critically acclaimed, but those songs will be working in some unidentifiable way in my head.
Being able to not limit yourself. There are so many great things you can draw from this. When you said your boss didnít want interview cartoonists because youíve done too many already --see, I donít think of myself as a cartoonist. And I donít know if itís because I donít feel accepted by people who read cartoons, or because I do so many different things. I think I would be bored if I said, ďIím gonna do this this way, make a series in this same format.Ē Maybe thatís why my stuffís not popular--because itís not coming out predictably. Who knows? Look, my stuff is about me as much as it is about you. You wouldnít be able to relate to my stuff at all if it wasnít about you, too. I want it to be more universal than that. Iím a medium through which--I use myself as raw material. But Iím like anyone else. I donít care if itís about me. I really believe itís about you. Or anybody. People ask me if Iím embarrassed: ďIsnít this personal?Ē Of course Iím not embarrassed! What makes me different than anyone else? It would be hubris to censor myself. Do you know what Iím saying? Iím not trying to protect myself in any way. That would be dishonest. What do I have to protect?
I think thatís pretty brave.
But once you start protecting things itís no longer true. You would no longer understand what Iím writing. You would think, ďThis is a weird voice, this sounds condescending,Ē or ďIím not getting anything from it.Ē You wanna touch people. Whether it does or not you donít know, but you wanna be touched. Fuck, you know what Iím talking about--I donít know. The weirdest thing about making a book is that you canít just tell a story from your life. No one is ever gonna want to read it. You have to give it a narrative thread. Itís all artifice. You have to do that. Make it entertaining. And if you donít make something entertaining, itís not gonna get to anybody, because thereís a certain way people communicate. Even the things that are least accessible, like J.G. Ballard--itís not accessible at all, itís far from entertaining, you have to teach yourself to be entertained by that. But I donít wanna be that obscure. You have to try hard to be entertaining. Shit, you write....
From Rich Johnston's column today:
I'm hearing rumours from the comics stratosphere (different to the 'blogosphere', as it's higher up and actually makes a difference)...
I'm sure this harsh assessment of comics bloggers has nothing to do with the fact that, a couple of weeks ago, a comics blogger very publicly stole the thunder from the Great Big Announcement that Rich has been lording over everyone for week after endless, tedious, mind-numbingly repetitive week. No sir, nothing at all.
And I'm sure he would have written all that business about said Great Big Announcement being "the worst kept secret in comics" if he'd gotten to make the announcement himself as planned. And as advertised, in his own column, as recently as two weeks ago.
(Actually, Rich Johnston is one of the best comics journalists (yeah, that's what I said) around. I impatiently reload CBR to get a look at his new column each Monday--it's genuine appointment reading. But making fun of the comics blogosphere? So 2003, chief.)
If you're digging on the Phoebe Gloeckner photo essay below, here's a similar piece she did for the L.A. Weekly.
If you're digging on this blog, there are other entries from this past weekend waaaaaay down there, below the interview. Scroll down!
I'm not going to take down the big Phoebe Gloeckner illustration below--hopefully I've pared it down to a size where you can still read it, but it doesn't bust your browser and make the rest of the page impossible to read. Moreover, I just really like having it on my own page.
But Phoebe herself just uploaded a fancy-schmancy navigable version of the illustration on her own webpage, one which you can view row by row in several sizes as opposed to the whopper of a .jpg you see below. Click here to check it out.
And Roger Langridge did a cartoon about it. (Permalink for Modern Tales subscribers here.)
Uh, congratulations, Jim! I guess!
All sorts of new stuff in the blogroll today, including a few brand newbies in the comics blogosphere. Stop by and say hello!
Jeebus, but is Graeme McMillan ever on today. Just start here and start scrolling up. The man snarks with the absolute best of 'em.
Went by the comic shop today, and what to my wondering eyes should appear but a trade paperback of The Dark Knight Returns, with the interior redesigned by Chip Kidd as well as the cover. When I bought the hardcover version with its Kidd-designed cover, I was awfully disappointed to see that inside, unlike the through-and-through redesign of The Dark Knight Strikes Again, it was the same old Kidd-free stuff. So why did DC get all fancy-schmancy with the less fancy-schmancy edition--and screw over the people who splurged for the hardcover in the first place?
I don't know if it's something in the water or what, but it's getting nice and mean around the comics internet. First Graeme McMillan goes on a bona fide fanboy rampage, then Matt Maxwell, Dirk Deppey, and Chris Allen put the boot into sundry targets.
Try to contain your surprise, but I disagree with Jim Henley's assessment of the validity of our reasons for going to war against the Baathists in Iraq.
Jim says that our failure to find actual WMDs means the whole thing was an unjustifiable farce. He picks apart two arguments commonly used by hawks to offset this: 1) Saddam Hussein was bad enough to warrant forcible removal from power, WMDs or no; 2) Saddam Hussein bluffed, we called him on it, no harm, no foul. Reason 1, sez Jim, is no good, because it requires a major rethinking of the role of American military power in the world, and moreover if the Bushies thought it would fly they'd have advanced it in the first place, since you didn't need UN inspectors to prove that Saddam was a grotesque murderer of the highest order. Reason 2 won't wash, he argues, because Saddam wasn't bluffing: He and his underlings said over and over again that they had no WMDs, the U.S. would have said he had them no matter what, and Hans Blix only took the very moderately tough stance he did in order to placate us bellicose Americans, so in the end the Baathists were, if not telling the whole truth, a lot closer to the truth than the US/UK coalition.
Well, Reason One is simple enough to be done with: Yes, I think the American military should be used to depose tyrants and promote constitutional democracy. There's obviously got to be a priority structure, since we don't have the means or the manpower to fight the entire Axis of Evil plus the AoE Junior Auxilliary simultaneously, but generally speaking Gulf War II was in line with a foreign policy I was advocating during my wildest and wooliest collegiate Bush-hating days: Stop paying the bastards, and start ousting them. Obviously this doesn't sit well with Jim, who, as a libertarian, is primarily concerned with leaving well enough alone. How leaving well enough alone in countries ruled by mass-murdering dictators is libertarian is something that continues to escape me, but in all fairness Jim's been riding this train of thought for a long time now, so I guess he's figured it out.
Reason Two is trickier. It's certainly distasteful/distressing/disturbing (depending on how charitable you want to be) that our government and its intelligence wings either had no clue what was really going on in Iraq, or had a clue but decided to burnish it into a direct causus belli anyway. (Again, I really wouldn't have cared if they'd argued for the removal of that monster by saying he'd kidnapped Santa Claus and was preparing to unleash Gidrah the Three-Headed Monster, but that's neither here nor there for the moment.)
But was Saddam Hussein really not even bluffing that such weapons existed? Of course he was bluffing. He certainly knew his statements were never going to be taken at face value by the U.S. and U.K.; in diplomacy, whose statements are taken at face value? (Iran's, I guess, if you're the International Atomic Energy Agency, but that's another story.) You can't just go by what he or Tariq Aziz said on television to determine whether or not they were makin' with the obfuscation. If this were a novel, they'd be what you'd call "unreliable narrators." (Hell, even the anti-war types refused to believe Saddam was in any way allied with Islamic reactionism, despite any number of statements of his to the contrary. Funny how much credit they're willing to give this man, who by the way had a Koran written in his own blood and paid the Islamic death-cult suicide bombers of Palestine 25 large a pop, on certain other matters: "Hey, if the man says he's got no WMDs, he's got no WMDs!")
And he was, in fact, an obstructionist when it came to the inspections regime, quite independent of how the U.S. interpreted his moves. We know what legitimate UN-overseen disarmament looks like; we've seen it in South Africa, for instance. We did not see it in Iraq. Clearly, someone thought they had something to hide. And someone thought they had political intimidation points to score by acting like it. By all accounts Saddam himself believed he had WMDs, and was made to believe this by an entire chain of military and scientific officials scrambling desperately to convince him. They wouldn't have put their necks on the line if WMDs weren't something the man had, you know, asked for.
As the Kay Report made quite clear, Iraq most certainly did have a WMD development program. Some of its constituent parts were hidden, buried, rearranged, stashed in scientist's home frigidaires, and integrated with civilian infrastructure; some of them were burned or shredded far from the prying eyes of international oversight. Why, exactly? So that the scientists could eat botulin-sicles and grow gardens in nuclear reactor parts? Because they didn't want the UN inspectors to see them without their make-up on that morning?
This, to me, has always been the horse-shittiest part of the anti-war argument: that Saddam was harmless, forever and ever, amen. Clearly he and his government made every effort to stay just shy of openly pursuing the program, while continuing to preserve the means, materiel and knowledge necessary to reactivate it the second the heat was off. Anti-war forces conveniently forget that before the present administration called bullshit and forced the Iraq issue to the forefront of world attention once again, the cry wasn't "Let the inspections and sanctions work," it was "Let the inspections and sanctions end." Saddam was gambling that, if he gathered enough sick babies into one or two hospitals, trotted in credulous BBC reporters, and said "we can't afford medicine" over and over again, he could then sit back in one of his several dozen palaces and watch the world force an end to the sanctions regime that prevented him from fully purusing his WMD ambitions. And the sanctions were already splitting apart at the seams: even nations friendly to the U.S. were beginning to flout them, to say nothing of Syria, Jordan, Russia, and France. If 9/11 hadn't happened I am positive they'd have been completely scuppered by now; as it was the make-or-break point was delayed by a few years, but make no mistake, it would only have been a delay, and then Saddam would have been free to pursue his clandestine weapons program with all the gusto of, well, seemingly every other Muslim dictatorship with Kim Jong Il on the speed dial. A war in which Saddam Hussein and his mob were removed from power permanently was and is the only way that this endless cat-and-mouse game could be stopped.
To recap, what exactly were we facing? An unspeakably brutal dictator, with no compunction about inflicting mass civilian casualties even within his own borders and on fellow Muslims, and with a proven record of doing just that repeatedly for decades on end; an un-deterrable dictator, who had invaded two of his neighbors, attacked a third, and seriously threatened two more, despite overwhelming evidence that these courses of action would be disastrous for himself and his nation; an opportunistic dictator, who had not hesitated to very publicly cast his lot with religious fundamentalism and its murderous vanguard in Palestine and Kurdistan, even after our post-9/11 invasion of Afghanistan showed that such alliances were potentially fatal for the states involved; an ambitious dictator, who had used WMDs in the past and greatly desired to maintain the ability to use them again in the future despite the tremendous personal and financial risks inherent in the pursuit; a patient dictator, willing to play a decade-long waiting game with the world at the direct expense of his citizenry until international inertia and greed in Europe, Russia, and the Mid-East won out once again, leaving him free to pursue weapons that he felt would make him, at long last, untouchable. Throw in what I think was our moral obligation to end the reign of this dictator we once supported, over a people whom, after Gulf War I, we betrayed, and explain to me again: Why was this war not a good idea?
One, two, three, what are we fighting for? From the Council on Foreign Relations' page on the new Afghan constitution (link courtesy of Instapundit):
The constitution of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan...states that no Afghan law ďcan be contrary to the beliefs and provisionsĒ of Islam...most of the [current, pre-constitution] judges are religiously trained mullahs...The nationís current chief justice, Fazl Hadi Shinwari, has outlawed cable television, opposes co-education, and is said to practice the strict form of Islam called Wahhabism...The president must be Muslim...Eligible judges can have training in either Islamic jurisprudence or secular law...It will base its judgments on existing Afghan lawómuch of which is rooted in Islamic lawóand the new constitution...the courtsí decisions will be ďwithin the limits of the constitutionĒ and in accord with Islamic jurisprudence. On cases of possible discord between the constitution and Islam, the Supreme Court will have to arrive at a compromise. ďA secular judge could overrule sharia, but a fundamentalist court could rule the other way aroundĒ...traditional Islamic law treats men and women differently in some cases, and existing law in Afghanistan maintains some of these distinctions...The ďsacred religion of IslamĒ is the state religion of Afghanistan. However, followers of other religions are ďfree to exercise their faith and perform their religious ritesĒ within the limits of the law. There is no mention of freedom of conscience, however, and some experts say they are concerned that there is no protection for Muslims who may not wish to practice their faith...
Anyone else get the feeling this constitution is a little, how can I put this, problematic?
I'd like to give the people of Afghanistan the benefit of the doubt. Muslim does not equal crazy, and given the chance to run their own affairs, there's every possibility that Afghans will want to wake up and smell the 21st century. But the problem is, obviously, that Afghans have historically been given so little chance to run their own affairs, and there's still a lot of Big Men (with, sadly, the support of many Afghans themselves) who'd just as soon keep it that way, and can use the weaknesses of the "Islamic Republic"'s constitution to do so.
Afghanistan's main exports have for years been opium, misogyny, and religiously-mandated murder. Will this constitution, one which Americans died to help create, put an end to this?
I'll go ahead and say it: Marvel's "Marvel Age" initiative impresses me.
Listen, I'm as skeeved out by the endless exploitation of the Stan/Jack/Steve years as the next guy, but Marvel's in a tough spot: The people on the business end don't want the publishing people to do anything to which Marvel can't fully control the licensing rights; at the same time, advances in creators' rights (or at least a general awareness that such things exist) have lead creators to be reluctant to, well, create anything they themselves can't own, meaning that when they work for the Big Two, it's really a question of reshuffling the same old characters and concepts; and Marvel as a publisher finds itself beholden to a reactionary Direct Market and the failed monthly-pamphlet format, both of which prevent it from producing comics in the cost-effective and popular format young readers prefer, as well as actually putting comics where those readers would even see them. Meanwhile, there's an entire thriving sequential-art industry--manga--that doesn't find itself in this bind, and is making a killing because of it.
If I ran Marvel, I'd have spent the last couple of years frantically trying to find a way to repackage the best existing work the company had into a format that could tap that market. The thinking behind Marvel Age, especially as detailed by their seemingly quite-on-the-ball Sales Manager David Gabriel, shows that Marvel's finally trying to do exactly that.
They're even talking about switching to a direct-to-digest format, if sales warrant, and this time at least it seems that this isn't just talk. Good for them. For now, though, it makes sense to essentially repackage old material, either directly (in the case of Runaways, Sentinel and, I think, Spider-Girl), or via modernized adaptations (Marvel Age Spider-Man). That, after all, is one of the advantages of the big American manga publishers, who have a decades-old backlog of preexisting Japanese comics to select from, translate, package, and publish at a much lower cost than producing brand-new stuff. Moreover, choosing Runaways and Sentinel for repackaging out of all their recent crop of manga-influenced titles, as opposed to the much-hyped and thoroughly woeful Trouble, shows that someone at the company is actually paying attention to the quality of the content, not just catch-phrases about art style or romantic plotlines.
But there's still a lot more they could be doing with their books. Back at 2003's San Diego Comic-Con, I was told that Ultimate Spider-Man was going to be converted into digests. I don't know if this is still in the works, what with Marvel Age Spider-Man now in play, but it should be: There are now over 50 issues of this uniformly high-quality, perfectly age-appropriate book available. Moreover, success with an Ultimate book in this format would naturally pave the way for similar publishing initiatives on Ultimate X-Men, and perhaps even Ultimate Marvel Team-Up and (God willing that there are enough issues to collect) The Ultimates. The Ultimate books--including, if the first issue is any indication, Ultimate Fantastic Four--are as close to a match for the manga audience as anything Marvel's got. Please, House of Ideas, allay our fears and do the right thing with them! (That last link courtesy of Big Sunny D.)
Meanwhile, as Shawn Fumo points out, DC are learning that manga-sized digests are the way to go from the type of source they might really listen to: the bookstores themselves. They'll be publishing their newly-acquired title Elfquest that way, and perhaps doing more experiments a la Death: At Death's Door, but they should be looking into wholesale repackaging as well. Their various animated-series adaptations would be perfect for younger readers, and I remain 100% convinced that a digest-sized reprint of the complete Sandman run would be a goddamn blockbuster. (Similar arguments could be made for quite a few Vertigo series, especially Transmetropolitan.)
Honestly, this is something that even altcomix publishers could learn from. I'd certainly be interested to see how some old Love & Rockets stuff, particularly Jaime's, would do in manga format; I'd imagine quite well. Blankets is a great fit as well; it may be tough to shoehorn that book into a digest without splitting it up, but could trade dress be experimented with in an attempt to catch the eye of shoujo fans? Hell, even Jim Woodring's Frank stuff might find an interesting new, young audience if repackaged appropriately. I don't want to get carried away here, but there are many possibilities. And from a publisher's viewpoint, I'd think they were both intelligent and enticing.
An object lesson.
(Thanks to Jim Dougan for the tip.)
In case you needed a reminder why traditional conservatives are nobody's friend, take a look at what they want to do to the Constitution, to privacy rights, and to marriage as we know it (i.e. a union between two people that love each other--how do you know it?), in order to legally enshrine their irrational hatred for homosexuals. Andrew Sullivan has the goods on the Old Right's desperate attempts to prevent the inevitable: the legalization of gay marriage, which within a generation, two at the outside, will be a fait accompli. In essence, they're willing to give any random pair of people all the benefits of civil union, and are apparently willing to spend God knows what resources monitoring those pairs for any sign of sexual behavior, simply to avoid the civilization-destroying horror of letting two men or two women who love each other get legally wed. And they want to amend the Constitution to do it.
Like I said: these people are not on your side, America.
Franklin Harris responds thoughtfully to my bafflement over the libertarian arguments for isolationism. Naturally, I'm still unconvinced--deficit spending seems a small price to pay for, you know, ending mass graves and so forth; and World War II and the Cold War are fairly strong arguments for the efficacy of an aggressive foreign policy in promoting the growth of liberty abroad without sacrificing it at home--but I'm pleased and grateful that Franklin took the time to explain them to me. All the points he raises are one that hawks should remain vigilant about, at any rate.
(Regarding the Founding Fathers, my guess is that an unwillingness to be drawn once again into hostilities with the most powerful empire in the history of the world accounts for at least some of their reluctance to get entangled in alliances...)
The English press has subjected Shawcross's apparent rightward turn to searching psychological and cultural analysis (finally inheriting the family estate; marrying a ''socialite heiress''; cozying up to the royal family; re-enacting his father's own political pattern, etc.). Since ''Allies'' is silent on this subject, it's more instructive to consider the possibility that Shawcross has remained true to his principles, but that a morally driven foreign policy looks very different after 9/11 than it did before.
Emphasis mine. From James Traub's review
of William Shawcross's Allies
, in the New York Times. Link courtesy of Jeff Jarvis
. And there's more:
Shawcross is scarcely the only liberal or leftist to see the war in Iraq as the consummation, rather than the contradiction, of his principles...Shawcross notes that while the neocons are considered "radical" for their insistence that evil regimes have sacrificed their absolute right to sovereignty, these arguments "sound close to mainstream liberal internationalist thought."
I do like to think, from time to time, that I have basically the same politics as I did on September 10th, and that it's all my former fellow travelers who've lost their way.
Jim Henley and I had an enlightening back-and-forth over email about the Marvel Age line, which I discussed earlier. After first backing me up on his own blog, he later offered some insight into the uproar over M.A., specifically the manga-style remakes of the classic Stan-Jack-Steve stories:
Some of the loudest complainers are people who disdain superhero fanboyism, but by their complaints about messing with the purity of the Silver Age Marvels they sound like nothing so much as their nemeses (superhero fanboys) bitching about some flouting of The Way Things Used to Be. Why, they sound oddly like John Byrne Message Board posters.
Indeed! This attitude towards the Silver Age is something I've spotted before, even amongst the most iconoclastic of comics pundits. It's understandable, to a degree: Those are some remarkable comics, and the thoroughly lousy treatment over the years of many of the people who created them, by the very companies who couldn't exist today without them, probably makes us all view them more protectively than we otherwise would. But referring to "the lost innocence of the Silver Age," as Alan David Doane
did back during that whole Seth X-Men cover
kerfluffle, implies a belief in some mythical pre-Fallen state of grace for mainstream comics. And as much as I enjoy all the great stuff from that era, I don't think they bear being treated as Scripture very well.
This is actually something touched upon by David Fiore during that same comics-cover crisis, in a couple of posts: "[T]here is no 'lost innocence' in the sixties for Seth to harken back to!" and "Next we'll be hearing that super-hero comics are only suitable for children, and are best left unanalyzed! Oh, wait, we hear that every day from certain quarters..." No, most of the folks I've encountered who are upset about Marvel Age aren't as far gone as your average John Byrne or Comics Journal messboard crackpot (both of whom treat superhero comics like kid stuff, albeit for very different reasons). But given how indistinguishable Marvel Age is from everything else Marvel does, legally and logically speaking--to say nothing of all the arguments in favor of Marvel doing just such a thing--it seems that the problem is mainly an emotional, or indeed sentimental, one.
In other words, I don't get the outrage. Well, I get it--it's just that I don't think it makes much sense. Marvel Age is different from everything else Marvel does only in the sense that it is literally rewriting and redrawing the Stan/Jack/Steve stuff, as opposed to simply milking it for forty years while the people whose genius made those forty years of milking possible don't make a whole lot of money from it. Legally, I don't think this is any more or less distasteful than everything else Marvel does; the original writers and artists are being properly credited, so in that sense it's even better than things were for ages on end. I think the uproar is a "sacred cow" issue more than anything else, and that's fine, but it's no way to run a business, especially one like Marvel in the position that Marvel's in these days.
Obviously there are aesthetic arguments about redrawing Kirby or Ditko and rewriting Lee--I've heard it compared to the remake of The In-Laws or, God help us, Psycho--but I think that in intent it's a lot closer to Peter Jackson's upcoming remake of King Kong. The point in both cases is to take a great story and make it accessible to generations that are no longer comfortable with the storytelling and film- or comics-making conventions of yesteryear. Fine by me. (The goal is also to make a lot of money, but that's also fine by me.)
For those of us who simply can't get past the perceived lack of respect being shown to the legacy of Lee, (and especially) Kirby and Ditko, please keep in mind that even a revamped, redrawn, rewritten version of a classic Spider-Man or Fantastic Four yarn would be a hell of a lot closer to the originals than the manga kids would otherwise ever get. Furthermore, those kids would certainly be a lot more likely to eventually seek out the original Stan/Jack/Steve stuff than they are now! I don't think I share Jim's confidence that Marvel might even, get this, "try to sell them the originals" if they like the newfangled versions, but it would make a lot of sense, and again it'd be a lot more likely to actually work thanks to the exposure to the material made possible by Marvel Age.
All of this, of course, hinges on whether the books are any good, and (to a lesser or greater extent, depending on your perspective) whether or not they sell. But the principle behind the thing is as sound as it gets, in my book. And my attachment to the great works of the past doesn't stop me from seeing the need to adopt, adapt, and (as far as accessibility goes) improve, for the present and the future.
UPDATE: Alan David Doane writes:
...I definitely think there IS a "lost innocence of the Silver Age." Whether it was actually DURING the SA or was how we later readers looked at it, specifically up to the early '80s before the truth came out about how Marvel screwed Jack Kirby and the Shooter "Little Fucks" era is debatable, one supposes. But there was a time when even the most informed comics reader could believe at least some of the myths about comics in general and Marvel in particular, and Seth's piece evokes that era. In a time, now, when you have to pretty much have NO interest in comics NOT to know such trivia as Joss Whedon's contractual machinations or Ellis's online sex-farce, I'd say that innocence is gone.
In other words, when he's talking about "lost innocence," he's not referring to the comics of that era, but Comics
of that era--the industry/medium/art form. That does make sense, in terms of the readers and our view of the business side of the Silver Age and its aftermath: Ignorance truly was bliss.
Andrew Sullivan on the motives of the anti-gay-marriage right:
They think that the most honorable and profound gay relationship is worth less than Britney's 55 hour marriage. Why cannot they say this? My relationship wth my boyfriend will never be as good as Britney's to Jason - and it's worth amending the very constitution to affirm that for ever.
Besides being (obviously) offensive to homosexuals and those who think that homosexuality is neither deviant nor a sin nor an affront to civilization as we know it, this is offensive to regular heterosexuals (your gender is more important to AGM conservatives than whether or not you're even the least bit serious in your commitment to one another), and to anyone who cares about the state of the Constitution of the United States America (an attempt is being made to amend the document with the express purpose of enshrining discrimination against a group of Americans in the founding document of America itself; an attempt, moreover, being carried out in a desperate quest to beat the clock, as polls and demographics suggest that within a generation or two homosexual marriage will be widely accepted).
Just thought I should bring it up again.
The Three-In-One: In our dreams we have seen a new Dark Age. Seen all history set back by a thousand years of ignorance and war. Seen, worse than all these, a terrible flaw at the heart of things. How did this happen so quickly?
Wolverine: I guess no one thought Rome could fall, either... those guys had a postal service that could deliver mail across 170 miles in one day. They had indoor plumbing, the women were free, they had art and science and a communications network that spanned the civilized world.
Within a hundred years, it was all debris and lice.
Sometimes ya gotta take care of what you got.
New X-Men #151
Now, I may just be desperate to find a fellow liberal-interventionist defender of civilization against theocratic fascism and nihilist terrorism out there in the great big wide world of funnybooks, but what alternate explanation for this passage by Grant Morrison can you
My cat is snoring.
If you can think of anything cuter than that, I ask you to please keep it to yourself.
UPDATE: A cuteness pile-up. So cute your brain will liquify and leak out of your ears.
Fellow New Yorkers may wish to view Amanda's spot-on summary of the WB11 Morning News Team.
MARYSOL CASTRO RULEZ, LYNN WHITE DROOLZ
Tremendous round-table discussion amongst left-liberal hawks over at Slate today. When all is said and done, it will include essays from superstar regime-change advocates Paul Berman, Christopher Hitchens, Fareed Zakaria, Kenneth Pollack, and more. Fascinating reading, for several reasons:
1) Several of the correspondents seem to be using entirely different sets of facts. Witness the range of opinion on whether or not the Iraqis are happy that we're there, for example, or if Saddam Hussein was deterrable.
2) They are all able to criticize the failures of the Bush Administration, and indeed explicitly call for him to be punished for them at the polls, without saying the war was a cruel farce waged by a bloodthirsty oil cabal and it was a waste and a mistake and we never should have gone in there and BUSH LIED--PEOPLE DIED! In other words, they demonstrate a moral seriousness and thoughtfulness that's utterly refreshing and, amongst the administration's critics, sadly, rather unique.
3) Some of them seem genuinely concerned for the health of "international institutions." I would say that the fault for the sorry state of (for example) the UN lies with those who've allowed it to become a get-out-of-jail-free card for murderous thugs and their sycophantic bagmen, not with the course of action that finally called the institution's bluff after catastrophic failures ranging everywhere from the Balkans to Rwanda, but that's just me, I guess.
4) It's enormously uplifting for a jaded liberal like myself to listen to intelligent, articulate liberals use words like "fascism" and "totalitarianism" to describe the policies of people who aren't John Ashcroft.
5) While we're on the liberal-hawk subject, go read Pollack's reexamination of his own case for war over at The Atlantic, too. Provided you're not just looking for "I told you so"s to level at the Bushies, you'll find that the timing involved in Pollack's conclusion has changed, but the conclusion itself has not.
6) The quote of the day comes from Hitchens's contribution to the discussion. It regards antiwar forces whose constant predictions of disaster go unremarked upon when, as they nearly always do, they prove false. "How soon they forget," he says, "but I don't, and I am keeping score." And he's not the only one.
Eric Spratling just kills with this hysterical beatdown of the astoundingly ham-fisted anti-Bush political commentary in recent issues of Avengers, which Spratling calls "a MoveOn.org ad in disguise." The straw-man arguments and de rigeur Nazi comparisons the book makes--about everything from 9/11 to Iraq to AIDS--are so fantastically simplistic that you literally won't believe a grown-up wrote them. (Unless, of course, you've read the political commentary of seemingly every other "grown-up" in the industry, in which case this will just seem par for the course.)
I suppose one could make a joke here along the lines of "this is what you get for ever thinking 'Geoff Johns was a great writer, a wonderful writer, the kind who was doing all he could to [bring] a kind of joy and fun (though tempered with appropriate seriousness) back to mainstream comics,'" but far be it from me to do that.
Haven't done one of these in a while.
Editor Axel Alonso announces some of the upcoming plans for the Marvel Knights imprint--assuming the agent-provacateur role vis a vis unabashed superhero fans from the oustered Bill Jemas in the process. Hee hee! The occasional excess of Alonso's rhetoric aside, Marvel Knights has traditionally been the petri dish for the types of comics storytelling that helped turn Marvel proper, and indeed the mainstream industry at large, around. The Marvel Knights style (which I once described as "slightly more sophisticated, slightly less continuity-wonky, usually better") has produced more hits than misses--or at least the hits have been bigger and better than the misses have been lousy flops--and I'm happy to see Marvel sending more of their big (and, not coincidentally, movie-related) franchise characters in that direction. By the end of April '04, the imprint will include titles starring silver-screen superheroes Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, Daredevil, the Hulk (whose book was, as I've said, already a Marvel Knights book, in tone if not in name), the Punisher (I think--they're still doing a non-mature-readers series even while moving Garth Ennis's Punisher work over to MAX territory, right?), and, if rumors can be believed (and my sources tell me that in this case they can), Blade.
Gee, when you read it all together like that, it's clear which editor the Marvel bigwigs feel they can trust with the high-profit franchises, isn't it? Surely it's only a matter of time before an X-book starring central X-characters makes the migration into Alonso's stable. Meanwhile, Captain America continues to be the red(whiteandblue)headed stepchild of Marvel Knights: His title has never gelled satisfactorily. However, the Robert Morales/Chris Bachalo iteration of the book is, even after one issue, easily the most promising version thus far (not counting the rollicking "What If the Nazis Had Won?" version by Dave Gibbons and Lee Weeks), so there's hope even there.
In other Marvel imprint news, Bill Sherman enters the Marvel Age fray, asking defenders and detractors alike to postpone judgement until, y'know, we actually see the books. I'll reiterate what I said on my last post on the topic: "[Everything] hinges on whether the books are any good, and (to a lesser or greater extent, depending on your perspective) whether or not they sell. But the principle behind the thing is as sound as it gets, in my book." (Bill also picks up the Velvet Underground quoting baton and runs with it, God bless 'im.)
David Fiore chimes in on a related topic: the "innocence" of the Silver Age, specifically blogger Alan David Doane's feelings on same. Responding to Alan's quote in my post on the topic yesterday (in which Alan described the "innocence" in question as a belief in the happy-family Bullpen model of Marvel comicmaking, subsequently belied by the awful treatment of Jack Kirby and the cynical statements and actions of 1980s Marvel editor-in-chief Jim Shooter), David writes:
Look ADD--as a personal reaction to the history of Marvel Comics, your statement is perfectly valid, and I sympathize with you... However, the problem is that you allow these feelings about "corporate fuckery" and the business/contractual side of the comic book world to seep into every aesthetic judgment you make, rendering your criticism (at least of superhero comics) absolutely valueless....
The point is this--criticism deals with texts! It cannot concern itself with the manner in which the texts are created (or to whom they are marketed). The builders of the Pyramids suffered even more grievously at the hands of their masters than Jack Kirby & Steve Ditko did--we have to put that out of our minds when we're appraising the works themselves qua works of art... I have no problem whatsoever with editorializing against the slimy business practices of corporations (or Pharoahs)--just don't let that stuff (or your hurt feelings about Marvel as "bad father") lead you into making critical judgments that you are unable to support with textual evidence...
This is a not uncommon phenomenon when critically evaluating comics as art. One of the best comics critics I've ever read has said to me that the aesthetic enjoyment or enrichment you get out of a given comic should not even be a consideration if the business practices involved in its production were immoral. He wasn't referring to the Silver Age comics themselves--the years and years of comics derived from them were his target--and I don't even think he's necessarily wrong in some cases (how many of us, for example, want to hear whether Frank Miller gives his blessing to a particular version of Elektra before we buy it? Or refused to buy the collection of Alan Moore's Captain Britain
work until it was properly accredited?), but it's important to remember this mindset when evaluating the work of critics dealing with this industry.
On the other hand, ADD does seem to have a sense of humor about himself, as his comment at this Franklin Harris post makes clear.
Stuart Moore does the advocacy bit for the "superheroes plus" genre. Saying that straight-genre comics won't attract a wide readership (gee, why do you think that's the case?), he argues that by setting superhero stories in a solid genre framework (crime, espionage, science-fiction, etc.) you can draw in an existing readership and, in a semi-stealth fashion, broaden their horizons, leading eventually to a more robust variety of comics. A nice theory--if it weren't for the fact that this just isn't happening. Superhero fans now have several years of popular, acclaimed "superheroes plus" stories under their belts--and Stuart Moore's hard work at Vertigo and Marvel Knights played no small part in this--and yet the Direct Market still shows no signs of being able to sell anything that's totally costume- or powers-free. It would appear that, as I've argued before, the key factor for superheroes-plus stories isn't the plus, it's the superheroes. No, straight-genre stories don't sell, but that's because of excessive superhero dominance of the market, and is not something that can be fixed in any substantial way by doing more superhero stories, even great superhero stories, of any kind.
Moore is, however, correct in saying that normal "people arenít repelled by superheroes"--the success of superheroes in other media prove that--"[i]tís probably closer to the mark to argue that outsiders just donít care about superheroes"--or they do, enough to go see a good (semi-)superhero movie like Spider-Man or The Matrix or watch a good (semi-)superhero TV show like Smallville or Buffy, but not enough to go into the unfriendly geek enclaves of the Direct Market and plop down $2.99 for 28 pages in a format that might as well be stapled-together loose leaf. In other words, it's not just the content that's a problem, it's the container of the content. Superhero stories are now widely accepted as part of the film and television landscape, but the obstacles inherent in the most prominent sales venue for superhero comics (the Direct Market), and in the most prominent delivery mechanism for superhero comics (the floppy monthly pamphlet), are in themselves enough to overcome the public's interest in such material.
(But I've got to admit I'm not a 100% gloomy gus. It's hella hard to select only one single-issue comic per week to purchase, which is all I'm allowing myself these days due to budgetary constraints. There are a lot of good comics out there, if you know where to look....)
Do you think we can discuss comics online without resorting to personal attacks or name-calling or de-linking or multi-blog ersatz flame wars when we disagree?
I'm just askin', is all.
Same deal as the comics one, basically.
1) The Postal Service: Give Up
2) Death Cab for Cutie: Transatlanticism
3) Fischerspooner: #1
4) Rufus Wainwright: Want One
5) David Bowie: Reality
6) Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Fever to Tell
7) The Dandy Warhols: Welcome to the Monkey House
8) Underworld: Underworld 1992-2002
9) The Rapture: Echoes
10) A Perfect Circle: Thirteenth Step
11) The Mars Volta: De-Loused in the Comatorium
12) The Strokes: Room on Fire
12) Beth Gibbons & Rustin Man: Out of Season
There you have it. Sorry to Radiohead and Outakst and Deftones and Marilyn Manson and Metallica. And to the White Stripes, but to be honest I don't understand the fuss about Elephant at all.
I really can't recommend the Postal Service and Death Cab and Beth Gibbons records highly enough.
Today I got an email forward from a friend of mine, one that called itself an "INTEGRITY TEST." The set-up was that you are a professional photographer covering a hurricane in Miami, and while taking pictures of the raging floods you see George W. Bush ready to go down for the third time. If you put the camera down, you'll be able to rescue him, but you'll lose your shot at a Pulitzer for chronicling the last moments of the most powerful man on Earth. And so the INTEGRITY TEST asks you the following, hugely important question:
Would you shoot in color, or black and white?
Yeah, I know, uproarious. I got sent this by an Ivy League graduate, who himself received it from another Ivy League graduate. The funny thing about it is that I don't doubt at all that they'd actually leave Bush to die--and that they're far from alone in this, too.
So what's the deal with the borderline-pathological hatred that so many people have for President Bush? I've been thinking about this quite a bit lately. As someone whose presidential voting record thus far runs Clinton 96/Gore 00, who supported all of Al Gore's recount efforts in Florida, and who bashed the Pres. with the best of them up until, well, you know, I still cannot fathom why highly educated and articulate grown-ups across the country (well, across the coasts) literally would like to see him dead. Here are some ideas:
1) The conservatives who demonized President Clinton are reaping the whirlwind. I do think this is a significant part of it all. The bad feelings left over from the Republican Revolution, the idiotic impeachment proceedings, the "trail of bodies from Little Rock to Washington," et cetera, were absorbed by the country's most doctrinaire left-liberals, and now they're just vomiting it back out all over the rest of us, only with a different President serving as ipecac.
2) War. I'd imagine that in the post-Vietnam United States, any war, under any president, will be incredibly polarizing. The odd combination of totally unprecedented war (the War on Terror) and directly precedented war (the Iraq theater of same), making hostilities seem both dangerously unpredictable and frighteningly repetitive, probably doesn't help either.
3) The election debacle. This is where the tipping point occurred, and the role of "foaming-at-the-mouth partisan loony-tunes" shifted from being played by conservatives to liberals. It certainly was bad to see an election be decided by a party-line vote of the Supreme Court; it was also bad to see it won in a state that Al Gore really did win (although his myopic demand to recount only certain counties would have produced the very Bush win he was trying to avoid). But is the election enough to prevent people from engaging in debate with the ruling party and its President in good faith? For some, apparently, the answer is yes. In a time of unprecedented conflict, when the American mainland has been attacked by a foreign power for the first time since the War of 1812, people are still so angry about the hanging-chad debacle that they're ready to throw out the electoral college (thus ensuring that only about a dozen states, if that, will ever factor into presidential politics again) and have themselves convinced that new voting machines are part of a Republican plot to steal "more" elections.
4) Bush is a lousy public speaker. To the Ivy League types that form the core of the Bushatred movement, this is anathema. It kind of was to me, for a while, though it was always more funny than anything else. I've certainly read little to convince me that behind closed doors, Bush is anything but an agile and adroit manager, very much at the helm of his administration. But his verbal gaffes--even the mere fact that he just isn't silver-tongue--radiate "UNQUALIFIED UNELECTED PUPPET" to many people.
I happen to think that Bush has done great things foreign-policy wise. My vote is far from being locked up, though; just by way of a for instance, if he ends up lobbying for a Constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, my vote will go to the Marijuana Reform Party faster than you can say Jack Robinson. But I'm not going to begin joking about how if I had my druthers he'd be dead, and I'm probably going to have a hard time taking seriously those who do.
I've been thinking a lot about interviews lately. Actually, I think most people who read about comics online have been thinking about interviews lately. Can you imagine interviews like the kind we see in comics appearing in any other field of endeavor?
* "You're watching World News Tonight. Sitting in for Peter Jennings is Ben Stiller, because it's Ben Stiller Week here at ABC News." "Good evening. We begin tonight with special guest Owen Wilson. Later in the broadcast, Janeane Garofalo will be stopping by. And be sure to tune into 20/20 later tonight, where myself and co-host Jerry Stiller will interview Ann Meara, Andy Dick, and the cast of Mr. Show with Bob and David."
* "Hello, I'm Lester Holt, and you're watching MSNBC. Recently I spoke via email to Democratic presidential contender Dennis Kucinich. I asked him some questions--some about comics, others about, y'know, just some kind of neat things about ideas and stuff--and he responded by talking about buttfucking and midget kangaroo prostitutes or something. I will now read you the complete, unedited transcript."
* "Today on Good Morning America, my interview with President George W. Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney. Diane, any thoughts?" "Well, Charlie, my suggestion is that, when they get into their pseudo-Martin & Lewis routine, just let it roll. Or better yet, try to provide set-ups and puns for them to riff off of. The kids'll love it. Make sure not to challenge any of their assertions on the success or appeal of their major policies. Actually, try not to even specifically ask about their major policies, at least not the ones involving anything more complex than the controversial new outfit Smokey the Bear is wearing these days. Okay, okay, if you must you must, but remember that "follow-up" is just another F-word. Generally speaking, a nice, simple, "rough year, huh?" will say everything that needs to be said, and if they reply "hell no, it was great," well, you did your job. If you really want to come off like a take-no-shit kinda guy, press them on something inconsequential and stupid, some obvious failure that got a lot of press a long time ago but then disappeared into well-deserved obscurity--that is, until you dedicated about 40% of your interview to questions about it. Now, occasionally, when you ask them about the strength of the U.S., they'll reflexively talk about how good our movies do overseas. You're welcome to gently remind them that movies are nice, but we're talking about politics--but only after they've done this four or five times. And remember, it's only government! Have fun with it!" "Thanks, Diane. Actually, that was pretty much my game plan to begin with."
I think that what comics needs, and badly, is Tim Russert.
I don't know how you folks feel about Russert, but I think he's the gold standard for interviews with politicians and policy makers. I guess he was a Cuomo operative once, but as far as I can tell his agenda, if he has one, is completely invisible. He's hard, really hard, on everyone. Those "gotchas" he does with old interviews and video clips are just priceless. When people bullshit him, he follows up just long enough to make it clear that that's what's going on, but not so long that it becomes an O'Reilly-esque screaming match that enables his subject to claim that he's being unfairly attacked. He doesn't interrupt like Chris Matthews does, either--if you've got a point, he'll let you make it, though he'll challenge you on the specifics. And best of all, if you want to be taken seriously as a politician or policymaker, you have to appear on his show. You know you'll get hammered, but you have to sit there and take it, or people will see you, and rightly so, as someone who can't walk the walk.
I don't think there's anything even remotely comparable in comics today, and man oh man, does comics ever need there to be one. The PR-type gabfests that comprise 95% of comics-related interviews certainly have their place, but when there's an issue of importance on the table, we need something better. When the people talking are the people who truly shape the industry, they need to be called to account, asked the important questions, pressed for the real answers. Moreover, there needs to be a sense of obligation on the part of such people to face that kind of forum. Without the sense that "the road to being taken seriously leads through this inteveriew," needless to say, no one would even go near it.
Can it be done? I don't know. There certainly are figures in the world of comics that hold positions of preeminence in their respective quasi-journalistic fields: Rich Johnston is the gossip columnist, Dirk Deppey is the blogger, the Comics Journal is the magazine, etc. A person or entity can be built up to the point where their reputation ensures that they are taken seriously by those who wish to be taken seriously themselves. But none of these figures are directly comparable to what I'm talking about: Blogs are still too obscure, the Comics Journal will always be seen as an elitist propaganda wing for Fantagraphics (mainly, of course, by the perpetually benighted, but let's face it, there are a lot of 'em), and as good as Rich's columns can be (except the New Year's ones, for whatever reason), I'm not sure that anyone feels that their credibility is at stake unless they grant an interview to Waiting for Tommy.
The fact is that comics journalism just doesn't pay enough to create someone with the full-time dedication, talent, and clout of a Tim Russert. (This is simple enough to deduce: Take the average amount that someone who writes comics for a living will make in a lifetime, and then picture what someone who makes a living writing about that writer might make. And then let me know when you've stopped shuddering.) The other fact is that so many comics readers don't give a flying fuck about reprint policies or payments to freelancers or creator-owned opportunities or the strengths and weaknesses of genre or the need for a forward-thinking Direct Market or whatever that folks in this industry will always be able to get away with murder, Tim Russert or no.
But imagine what it would be like if important figures from across the industry had to put the press releases aside, erase the zany responses to the canned questions, swallow their conviction that the art-snob elitist/mouth-breathing pervert-suit part of the biz was out to get them, and talk straight for half an hour with someone who knew what he or she was talking about--and most importanly, why it was worth talking about to begin with.
Meet the Press, comics industry. I insist.
UPDATE: I've posted some follow-up thoughts here.
by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
(Delivered on the steps at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963. Source: Martin Luther King, Jr: The Peaceful Warrior, Pocket Books, NY 1968. Found at http://www.mecca.org/~crights/dream.html.)
Five score years ago, a great American in whose symbolic shadow we stand signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity. But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free.
One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land.
So we have come here today to dramatize an appalling condition. In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.
This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation.
So we have come to cash this check -- a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God's children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.
It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment and to underestimate the determination of the Negro. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights.
The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges. But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.
We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. we must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.
The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.
We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" we can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.
Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair. I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal." I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor's lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today. I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring." And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania! Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado! Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California! But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia! Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee! Let freedom ring from every hill and every molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"
(Pic courtesy of Andrew Sullivan.)
On both his blog (no permalinks yet; currently the top item) and the Comics Journal message board, Zack Soto weighs in the possibility of altcomix favorites being published in manga-sized digest formats. Like me, Zack thinks it's a great idea. The big "if" here, of course, aside from whether the creators want to do this, is whether the publishers (like Fantagraphics) can afford it. But I think it'd pay dividends in the long run--this is the format that young readers want their comics in, and I see little reason that these high-quality books wouldn't appeal to them if presented in that format.
(NB: Blogger Shawn "Silverthorn" Fumo and cartoonists James Kochalka and Colleen Coover offer interesting and enthusiastic responses on that TCJ.com thread. But be warned, the usual signal-to-noise ratio for that board applies here: There are plenty of people yelling, "DON'T SHRINK THE ART JUST TO MAKE SOME MORE OF THE ALMIGHTY DOLLAR, YOU FUCKIN PHILISTINE!" (And there's a drunk Tony Millionaire, but what else did you expect?) In all seriousness, shrinking art is sometimes a very bad idea, and I'm well aware of that, which is why I suggested the comics I did: They'd work at that size, without question. But some of those posters are reflexively rejecting an idea precisely because it might lead to the artist and publisher making more money and expanding their readership. (This despite the fact that the material itself wouldn't change, aside from getting a little smaller, which as I said wouldn't matter in these cases.) "Artform vs commodity. No good can come of this." Yes, folks, welcome to the Comics Journal messageboard.)
This oughta be terrific.
Good heavens. What on Earth will dozens of twenty&thirtysomething minicomics artists think of war? Do you think they'll disagree with the policies of President George W. Bush? Will the topic of oil come up at some point? Is war going to be seen as bad for children and other living things? Perhaps comparisons to Nazi Germany might be made--who knows? The world waits with bated breath.
Prediction: Not since the Comics Journal's Special Edition on Patriotism will there have been a collection of political cartoons as predictable and inessential as this bad boy.
On the one hand, President Bush is more willing to put American money & might (not to mention his own political future) on the line to fight for human freedom abroad than I could possibly have hoped back when he was running against Al Gore. On the other, he seems just as willing to restrict human freedom at home as I feared, well, back when he was running against Al Gore. Andrew Sullivan puts it thusly:
I was also struck by how hard right the president was on social policy. $23 million for drug-testing children in schools? A tirade against steroids? (I'm sure Tom Brady was thrilled by that camera shot.) More public money for religious groups? Abstinence only for prevention of STDs? Whatever else this president is, he is no believer in individuals' running their own lives without government regulation, control or aid. If you're a fiscal conservative or a social liberal, this was a speech that succeeded in making you take a second look at the Democrats. I sure am.
And that's without mentioning his asinine attack on the rights of gay citizens. No, he didn't come out and explicitly call for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage; as even Pat Buchanan pointed out on MSNBC, said avoidance is shorthand for "shut the fuck up about a constitutional amendment already, you nitwits." But he clearly felt either obligated or happy (or both) to give a nod and a wink to the anti-gay right, and I simply can't brook that.
His points on Iraq and terror were razor-sharp and rock-solid. But he spent the rest of the speech coming out swinging on behalf of a reinvigorated, non-reexamined PATRIOT Act, a failed religious-based policy toward sexually transmitted disease,an expanding war on the personal freedom of American citizens and even children in the guise of the "War on Drugs," and an insult to the decency and moral seriousness of American homosexuals. All this and record deficits, too.
Couple this with the Democrats' apparent rejection of their own rejectionist extraordinaire in Iowa two nights ago, and the loyal opposition begins to look a lot more appealing.
The bulk of the criticism directed at my "comics needs Tim Russert" piece is that, well, yeah, it does, but it needs a boatload of other things before such a figure would be of any use at all. A readership that's aware of and interested in the issues, for example. For that matter, a consensus on what the important issues are. A level of parity between publishers, distributor
s, retailers, and readers, through which an interchange of ideas might actually have an effect on the implementation of policy. In other words, for there to even be the possibility of a Tim Russert type in comics, comics needs the type of civil-society infrastructure you find in the American polity.
Needless to say, we're pretty far away from that. (Babar at Simply Comics makes these points quite well--thanks to Dirk Deppey for the link.) But I'm aware of all that--the Tim Russert angle was, in its way, a fantasy based on a theoretical comics industry where such a civil infrastructure exists, where such values are shared and agreed upon, where an interview that exposes an influential figure as honest or intelligent or a bunko artist might actually make a difference to the people who consume the art that figure produces.
(It's also worth noting that many people have responded by saying that Russert really isn't so great. (Steven Grant, for example, isn't a Russert fan, but agrees with the basic point I was making, even if he sees (as I do) how difficult it'd be to create such a figure.) And that's fine--the point was not that we need TIM RUSSERT, but that a dedicated, intelligent, talented, doggedly determined interviewer seen as a necessary destination by the movers and shakers in the business would be good for said business. You're welcome to substitute Bob Schieffer, or Georges Stephanopolous and Will, or the people on Fox News Sunday, if you'd like; it's that Sunday-morning talk-show framework that I'm referring to, not one particular journalist.)
(UPDATE: I also want to state for the record that, obviously, there's a big difference between hard-news journalism and entertainment journalism, as well there should be. There should always be a place, a big place at that, for hyping upcoming projects and having friendly, fannish interviews with creators. But I think even there we folks who write about comics could do better than we sometimes do; and I think at a certain point we do need to do serious reporting and interviewing, even if this is "just" an entertainment industry. Just by way of a for instance, New Line risked its own bankruptcy by financing a three-film Lord of the Rings trilogy, so in addition to reading interviews with Sean Astin and Miranda Otto, I think it's an objective good to have interviews with the studio heads explaining what they were thinking. (I also think it's fair to ask creators to justify the work that they're doing and the way that they're doing it; though on a much smaller scale, these are important decisions, too, and I'd think that many creators would welcome the opportunity to talk about them.))
(UPDATE 2: It occurs to me that the parody bits in the original post come across as very harsh toward the folks who conducted and/or participated in the interviews they're based on, and that really wasn't my intent. I don't know them from Adam, so it's certainly nothing personal, and hell, it's not even meant as being indicative of the average level of their work. It's just commentary on what I see as some specific weaknesses of the current state of comics journalism, particularly interviews. I thought I should clear that up.)
Or "Let's let the nice man with attention deficit disorder make a list so that he can then get some stuff done around the house, make the bed, put away the laundry, that sort of thing."
Here's a list of my favorite albums from high school. I've only included one album per artist. In some cases they're the first albums I encountered by the artists in question; in all cases they're the albums that influenced my high-school self the most. And I still love them today. Enjoy!
1. Alice in Chains: Dirt
2. Aphex Twin: ÖI Care Because You Do
3. Beastie Boys: Check Your Head
4. The Beatles: The Beatles (White Album)
5. Blur: The Great Escape
6. A Clockwork Orange soundtrack
7. The Crow soundtrack
8. Cypress Hill: Cypress Hill
9. Faith No More: Angel Dust
10. Fishbone: The Reality of My Surroundings
11. Guns ní Roses: Appetite for Destruction
12. Helmet: Meantime
13. House of Pain: House of Pain (Fine Malt Lyrics)
14. Hum: Youíd Prefer an Astronaut
15. Janeís Addiction: Ritual de lo Habitual
16. Jawbox: For Your Own Special Sweetheart
17. Jethro Tull: Thick as a Brick
18. Jimi Hendrix: Electric Ladyland
19. KMFDM: Angst
20. Korn: Korn
21. Led Zeppelin: (Led Zeppelin IV)
22. Lenny Kravitz: Mama Said
23. Lords of Acid: Voodoo-U
24. Marilyn Manson: Portrait of an American Family
25. Massive Attack: Protection
26. Meat Beat Manifesto: Subliminal Sandwich
27. Messiah: Twenty First Century Jesus
28. Metallica: Metallica (Black Album)
29. Ministry: Psalm 69
30. Monty Python: Sings
31. Natural Born Killers soundtrack
32. Nedís Atomic Dustbin: Are You Normal?
33. nine inch nails: broken
34. Nirvana: Nevermind
35. NOFX: Ribbed
36. Pantera: Far Beyond Driven
37. Pearl Jam: Ten
38. Pigface: Notes from Thee Underground
39. Porno for Pyros: Porno for Pyros
40. Portishead: Dummy
41. Prick: Prick
42. Primus: Pork Soda
43. Public Enemy: Fear of a Black Planet
44. Pulp: Different Class
45. Rage Against the Machine: Rage Against the Machine
46. Red Hot Chili Peppers: Blood Sugar Sex Majik
47. The Rentals: Return of the Rentals
48. The Rocky Horror Picture Show soundtrack
49. Ruby: Salt Peter
50. Sex Pistols: Never Mind the Bollocks Hereís the Sex Pistols
51. Singles soundtrack
52. Smashing Pumpkins: Siamese Dream
53. Soundgarden: Badmotorfinger
54. Stone Temple Pilots: Core
55. Sunscreem: O3
56. Temple of the Dog: Temple of the Dog
57. Tool: Undertow
58. Tori Amos: Under the Pink
59. A Tribe Called Quest: The Low End Theory
60. Tricky: Maxinquaye
61. U2: Achtung Baby
62. Wax Trax! Records: Black Box (box set)
63. Weezer: Weezer (Blue Album)
64. White Zombie: Astro Creep: 2000
65. The Who: Tommy
Glenn Reynolds, Andrew Sullivan, Matt Welch, Roger Simon, Tacitus, Stephen Green, Jonah Goldberg, and yours truly (Jim Henley too, but, well, duh): It's been a bad couple of days for President Bush on the blogosphere. Wha' happen?
Simply put, a one-two punch:
1) The strong showing of John Kerry and John Edwards and the drubbing of Howard Dean in the Iowa caucuses, coupled with the rapidly diminishing returns of Wes Clark, make it look like the Democratic party will field a responsible, electable, non-berserk candidate for president after all. I don't know enough about Edwards's record or positions to comment, and Kerry's opportunistic backpeddling on the wars in Iraq/on terror is transparent and infuriating, but I don't get the feeling that either of them has a dangerous temperament, or that they like to put sneer quotes around the War on Terror. In other words, I don't feel that they'll sell out our ambitions to foment democracy abroad, nor will I feel dramatically less safe while buying comics in Times Square or across from the Empire State Building if they're in the White House. Thus the main obstacle to foreign-policy hawks voting Democratic is removed (in the process reminding many of us that, domestically and socially, we were always a lot closer to the Democrats than we were to Bush's Republicans).
2) The President's State of the Union address started strong and rapidly swerved into the nightmarish. Mandatory drug testing for schoolchildren, enshrining anti-gay bias in the goddamn Constitution, "unleashing" the churches and temples, taking time in the most prominent political speech of the year to basically take potshots at Barry Bonds, an adamant refusal to reexamine the excesses of the PATRIOT Act, advocating what is essentially a faith-based approach to teen sexuality: If you sat around and tried, you couldn't have come up with a better laundry list of things tailor-made to make me not want to vote for you. What's more, Bush wants to throw a ton of our money at all these things, and more besides, continuing a spending spree that'd put my wife at a 3-hour sale at Loehmann's to shame. And even if you're not a fiscal conservative and do think the government should be spending a good deal of money on important programs, these sure as hell aren't the programs you had in mind.
There's a large and growing class of voters who are socially liberal, fiscally moderate, and hawkish. Neither party is a comfortable home for them, and so they must prioritize and vote accordingly. With the Dems making it easier for hawks to hold their noses (beaks?) and vote donkey, and the President making the social libs and fiscal mods run screaming from their television sets, I think we're beginning see a realignment of the post-9/11 realignment. And I don't see this boding well for the President.
Holy Moses, what an issue.
Highlight to read, starting right here: My goodness! So the Beast is actually Apocalypse! (He is, right? Granted, he's saying he's 3 billion years old, as opposed to the official 5,000, but it sure does seem like it's the same guy.) Someone out there in the comics blogosphere already predicted this, I believe, and indeed the Beast's prominent use of the A-word in #151 made it a little bit obvious. After all, Morrison had avoided using it even when having Cyclops discuss his possession by the guy, opting always for the more obscure En Sabah Nur. Seeing the word "apocalypse" come out of the mouth of the supervillain in an dystopian alternate-future X-Men story... well, it was a big winking clue from Mr. M.
But what wasn't obvious until the final page of #152 was that Apocalypse was also... John Sublime, founder of the U-Men! And apparently was so all along. It also stands to reason that he was the mysterious "Dr. Sublime" referred to in the Return to Weapon Plus storyline as the founder of the Weapon Plus program.
It makes sense, given the genetic warfare free-for-all we find ourselves in in this alternate future. Both the U-Men and the Weapon X/Weapon Plus program represent attempts to create new species of life that would foment war between man and mutant. Both are logical means of pursuing Apocalypse's evolutionary-war, survival-of-the-fittest agenda, particularly when you consider that "the fittest" has traditionally meant "Apocalypse and whatever underlings he's relying on at the moment" in the Big A's worldview.
(This also echoes what I understand is going on in that Weapon X series, where Apocalypse protege Mr. Sinister has been revealed to be in charge of the current Weapon X program. I don't know how tied to continuity the current X-books are, but it seems like Morrison sets the pace and the other books follow, so that could explain this apparent correlation. And hey, John Sublime and Mr. Sinister do look a lot alike... well, we'll stick with Apocalypse for now.)
Here, though, are a couple of intriguing questions raised by this revelation:
1) Was Apocalypse/En Sabah Nur/Sublime/The Beast involved in the gestation and awakening of Cassandra Nova? She, too, was "a new species of life that would foment war between man and mutant," and it always seemed like a lackadaisacal bit of plotting for her to just pop up out of the sewer all of a sudden. (Granted, this is a superhero comic, so lackadaisacal plotting is something we're prepared to accept even in the best such works, but still.) Also, her apparent control of her body at the molecular level directly echoes Apocalypse's power (and Sinister's!), if I'm not mistaken.
1) Was Apocalypse, etc. involved in the Magneto/Xorn ruse? Again, Magneto's secret survival and reemergence helped push forward a genetic war between two species--indeed, unless the reset button is somehow pushed (in the form of the Phoenix, perhaps?), he succeeded in destroying the greatest human city on Earth. Moreover, John Sublime was directly involved with the Chinese prison in which "Xorn" was housed. Also, Beast (the real Beast (we think?)) said in issue 149 or 150 that he understood the link between Sublime/the U-Men and Magneto/Xorn. Was the constant U-Men harassment of the X-Men and the Xavier Institute merely a way to run interference and distract the X-Men from the traitor in their midst? Indeed, the U-Men attack on the Special Class was the turning point in Xorn's conversion of those kids to Magneto-style militarism. And the camping expedition that led to the attack conveniently removed the Specials from the mansion during the Omega Gang riot, perhaps in order to prevent them from choosing the losing side and thus preserving them to fight on Magneto's side when he was ready to cast aside the Xorn disguise. Magneto is unlikely to have joined forces with Apocalypse, but was he unwittingly a puppet in Apocalypse/Sublime's plan all along?
Wow. This is the kind of geeky, idea-intensive frisson that the best, most highly-detailed SFF can engender. I love love love it. More more more!
Phew. Am I right, or am I right?
A very thorough and thoughtful response to my posts on comics interviews comes from Steve Wintle. A lot of the piece stems from a misreading of my feelings about the Comics Journal--it's other people who think the Journal exists to hype Fanta product, certainly not me. (If there's any Fanta-related bias in the magazine at all, it's just that both entities ultimately answer to Gary Groth.) Beyond that, though, he makes many useful distinctions between interviewing and journalism, and between politics, entertainment, and business, and between televised and print pieces. However, what it comes down to for Steven is that
Discussions about the survival of the medium, expansion of the Direct Market, exploration of other genres or many other similar topics that are a concern for the discerning comic reader aren't necessarily for comic companies, even if we believe they should be.
Let us agree to disagree on that one, Mr. Wintle.
Just to prove that I'm not a big party-pooper when it comes to hype, here's a two-parter from the Pulse about what Brian Bendis is up to. Bendis is back on Daredevil as of this week--boy, is he ever. Great stuff, but from Bendis that's no surprise.
Speaking of Daredevil, Marvel editor-in-chief Joe Quesada will be writing and drawing a DD miniseries. I think that in terms of the Daredevil character's recent history, there are two strains of story type. You've got Bendis's dark crime stories, focusing very specifically on how Matt Murdock's drive to destroy crime affects him as a person; and you've got the Smith/Quesada/Mack stories, which rely heavily on religious imagery and emotional operatics (which often take physical and violent flight). They're both interesting takes, though the contrast between them has been growing ever starker. I'm interested to see where Quesada's new take on the character comes down, but with a title like Father, my guess is it'll be in the latter category.
Chris Allen hands in his year-end report cards on several comics publishers, including Marvel, DC, Top Shelf, and Drawn & Quarterly. His focus on PR, press relations, and overall line coherence is a welcome one. These are decisions made by the company itself, and can't really be pinned on the individual creators. It shows to go you that publishers have an important creative role to play, in a sense, and it's fascinating to evaluate how they're doing with it.
From what I can gather, issue 13 of McSweeney's, the comics-centric issue edited by Chris Ware, will include work by Ware, R. Crumb, Art Spiegelman, Daniel Clowes, Lynda Barry, Los Bros Hernandez, Adrian Tomine, Julie Doucet, Seth, Joe Matt, Joe Sacco, Chester Brown, David Collier, Debbie Drechsler, Jeffrey Brown, Ron Rege Jr., Gary Panter, Archer Prewitt, Charles Burns, Michael Chabon, Ira Glass, John Updike, and Chip Kidd. To quote Hair, "sheeeeeit." (Thanks to Egon and ADD for the pertinent links and info.)
Speaking of the comics edition of McSweeney's, the Comics Journal messboard thread on the subject contains the following howler (well, it would, wouldn't it?) from poster Scott Grammel:
Between this and the digest thread [discussed by me here--ed.], we've pretty much got the two opposite poles of where-should-comics-go-next pretty well bracketed.
Indeed. After all, the McSweeney's
issue will package the work altcomix superstars in a reader-friendly volume that will bypass the direct-market ghetto and find an eager audience in bookstores, while the theoretical manga-digest-sized editions will merely package the work of altcomix superstars in a reader-friendly volume that will bypass the direct-market ghetto and find an eager audience in bookstores.
Wait a minute.
Oh, right, I remember the distinction now: The manga-sized volumes have the potential to appeal to thousands and thousands of manga-reading teenagers, while the McSweeney's volume have the potential to appeal to art-school graduate students who listen to Belle & Sebastian. Clearly the self-evident philosophical and aesthetic superiority of the latter make it the correct venue for where-comics-should-go-next. I mean, isn't that obvious to everyone?
Interested in reading an essay about Watchmen that's actually about Watchmen, as opposed to "what Watchmen did to/for comics"? You bet your ass I am, and Eve Tushnet has produced a fantastic one.
The most disturbing and unfortunate effect of the stranglehold Howard Dean had on the Democratic Party this past year (up until a couple of weeks ago, that is) is that he forced otherwise reasonable candidates to fall all over themselves in an effort to prove to the so-called "Democratic wing of the Democratic party" that they, too, are "anti-war." Roger L. Simon puts it like this:
...what Dean has done by feeding the antiwar (really anti-Bush) frenzy of the leftwing of the party is far worse than demonstrating that he's a hothead. He has essentially intimidated the others (except Lieberman, obviously, and Kucinich, in a different way--both fringe candidates) into a limited and conventional response to a complex situation for fear of losing the nomination. The potential of the Democratic Party has been stymied. There is no dialogue on foreign policy. Who knows what Kerry and Edwards really think about confronting Islamic fascism? Who knows if they know what [they] really think anymore?
In its most concrete encapsulation, this produced a raft of congressman and senators who voted for the war, then after the war was a done deal, voted against the $87 billion appropriation needed to fund the troops already there. Kerry and Edwards were two such men, the shameful opportunism of which is a big reason why I'm so hesitant to support them now.
My hope is that with Dean seemingly ready to collapse into a singularity and pull Wes "The Stepford Candidate" Clark in with him, Kerry and Edwards will be able to reassert themselves regarding foreign policy, without feeling the need to pander to an anti-war segment of the population that, if Iowa is any indication, is simply not an integral component of political success. No, it doesn't bode well that these guys changed their points of view on as serious an issue as the war in Iraq simply out of political expediency. But my support of George W. Bush over the past few years should prove that I'm the forgiving sort, if the situation warrants.
I've been wondering why all these people have been listing the IMDb Top 100 on their blogs lately. Apparently it's a meme these days.
Films I've seen are in bold
Films I own (in any form) are bold and italicized
(List courtesy of Johnny Bacardi.)
1. Godfather, The (1972)
2. Shawshank Redemption, The (1994)
3. Godfather: Part II, The (1974)
4. Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, The (2003)
5. Lord of the Rings: Two Towers, The (2002)
6. Casablanca (1942)
7. Schindlerís List (1993)
8. Shichinin no samurai (1954)
9. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
10. Citizen Kane (1941)
11. Star Wars (1977)
12. One Flew Over the Cuckooís Nest (1975)
13. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
14. Rear Window (1954)
15. Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
16. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
17. Memento (2000)
18. Usual Suspects, The (1995)
19. Pulp Fiction (1994)
20. North by Northwest (1959)
21. Fabuleux destin díAmelie Poulain, Le (2001)
22. Psycho (1960)
23. 12 Angry Men (1957)
24. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
25. Silence of the Lambs, The (1991)
26. Buono, il brutto, il cattivo, Il (1966)
27. Itís a Wonderful Life (1946)
28. Goodfellas (1990)
29. American Beauty (1999)
30. Vertigo (1958)
31. Sunset Blvd. (1950)
32. Pianist, The (2002)
33. Matrix, The (1999)
34. Apocalypse Now (1979)
35. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
36. Some Like It Hot (1959)
37. Taxi Driver (1976)
38. Paths of Glory (1957)
39. Third Man, The (1949)
40. Cíera una volta il West (1968)
41. Fight Club (1999)
42. Boot, Das (1981)
43. Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi (2001)
44. Double Indemnity (1944)
45. L.A. Confidential (1997)
46. Chinatown (1974)
47. Singiní in the Rain (1952)
48. Requiem for a Dream (2000)
49. Maltese Falcon, The (1941)
50. M (1931)
51. All About Eve (1950)
52. Bridge on the River Kwai, The (1957)
53. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
54. Se7en (1995)
55. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
56. Cidade de Deus (2002)
57. Raging Bull (1980)
58. Wizard of Oz, The (1939)
59. Rashomon (1950)
60. Sting, The (1973)
61. American History X (1998)
62. Alien (1979)
63. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
64. Leon (The Professional) (1994)
65. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
66. Vita bella, La (1997)
67. Touch of Evil (1958)
68. Manchurian Candidate, The (1962)
69. Wo hu cang long (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) (2000)
70. Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The (1948)
71. Great Escape, The (1963)
72. Clockwork Orange, A (1971)
73. Reservoir Dogs (1992)
74. Annie Hall (1977)
75. Amadeus (1984)
76. Jaws (1975)
77. Ran (1985)
78. On the Waterfront (1954)
79. Modern Times (1936)
80. High Noon (1952)
81. Braveheart (1995)
82. Apartment, The (1960)
83. Sixth Sense, The (1999)
84. Fargo (1996)
85. Aliens (1986)
86. Shining, The (1980)
87. Blade Runner (1982)
88. Strangers on a Train (1951)
89. Duck Soup (1933)
90. Metropolis (1927)
91. Finding Nemo (2003)
92. Donnie Darko (2001)
93. Toy Story 2 (1999)
94. Princess Bride, The (1987)
95. General, The (1927)
96. City Lights (1931)
97. Lola rennt (1998) (Run Lola Run)
98. Full Metal Jacket (1987)
99. Notorious (1946)
100. Sjunde inseglet, Det (1957)
I went to see The Return of the King twice this weekend. What a great film. Amanda has an altogether unique take on it: Check out her absolutely fascinating comparison between the Ring and anorexia.
The Return of the King swept the Golden Globes in all the categories for which it was nominated last night, winning Best Picture (Drama), Best Director, Best Score, and Best Song. (I found it inexcusable that no one from the film was nominated in an acting category, particularly since the lead-actor category is split into Drama and Comedy, thus doubling the potential slots; but I suppose it's difficult to say who's the lead in RotK--Frodo, I guess--and at any rate the buzz surrounds clear supporting players like Sean Astin and Andy Serkis.) Here's hoping it replicates this feat at the Oscars.
As you may have gathered, Amanda and I have fallen on some difficult times recently. In December, I lost my job, as did everyone else who worked with me on it. We had already done all our holiday shopping before I got the news, unfortunately. In addition, it looks like I will have a hard time qualifying for unemployment insurance, due to the funky way my ex-employer had me on the books.
So if you've enjoyed this blog, or if you've enjoyed the pleasure of my company at some point, or if you haven't enjoyed either but are just a nice person, it would be terrific of you to hit the tip jar to your left and send a donation my way. I do spend quite a bit of time working on the blog, and a financial incentive to do so would be incredibly helpful at this point in time. Thanks in advance for whatever support you're able to lend.
But as I'm reluctant to beg without offering anything in return, I'm going to try and post something beautiful for you: Here are the lyrics to a new favorite song of mine. Enjoy, and thanks again.
So it's grey, well so are my favorite cities
And we have, we have all the time in the world here
We'll just stay tucked in the shade and our eyes they can't be blinded
We'll just stay tucked in the shade
So it's grey, well so are my favorite cities
And the sky on such a memorable night
And we have, we have all the time in the world here
That's a lie, that's a lie
--Azure Ray, "Favorite Cities"
Apparently this is a relaunch, but if you haven't read Indy Magazine before, it's new to you! The first installment of this snappy-looking altcomix magazine includes a review of Craig Thompson's Blankets, the gist of which is that the book isn't good because Thompson doesn't adhere to some formalist version of the Aristotelian unities. Yikes.
I wanted to like this review, because Bill Kartalopolous is obviously putting a great deal more thought and consideration into his critique than most reflexive Blankets bashers--the word "emo" is not used, for example. But the review goes on for eight deadly pages, each of which points out a stylistic choice of Thompson's, then criticizes him for not using it often enough, or consistenly enough, or properly, or something. Without realizing it, Kartalopolous has made a strong case for the book--it's a dizzying, enveloping blizzard of formal effects and sensations, mimicking the immersive sensations of adolescence note-perfectly. True, if you want a perfectly planned and executed how-to manual of graphic-novel making, this isn't the book for you. But I, for one, am happy to "settle" for transcendence over perfection.
(Links courtesy of NeilAlien.)
Hey, it's nice to see I'm not the only interviewer to founder on the rocks of Gloeckner: On her blog, Phoebe recounts the venerable Gary Groth's attempts to determine how "autobiographical" her comics are. Unlike a lot of the folks in the attached comment thread, I think this is a perfectly reasonable and understandable question to ask, all the more so because the events in what we're presuming to have been Phoebe's life are so dra/traumatic. And I do think male writers, European writers, whatever writers would and do get asked this same question quite often. (Look at J.T. LeRoy, for example. Hell, look at the frequency with which autobiographical impulses are attributed to J.R.R. Tolkien, for Pete's sake.) I think that it's Phoebe's method of answering--"there is no truth"--that leaves journalists (vocational truth-seekers, whether they choose to think of themselves that way or no) coming back to this well so often. (That and the fact that, yes, there's an extra element of interest in the fact that Phoebe's comics are about a teenage girl doing drugs, having sex, et cetera. Purient interest plays a part--the "car wreck" factor, as I've called it. But I'm not sure this is so unreasonable a response to such strong (in all senses of the word) material.)
Fans of good Alan Moore comics rejoice: your Watchmen analysis roundup can be found here.
While we're busy linking to other posts here on ADDTF, check out My review of Bill "Egon" Kartalopolous's review of Craig Thompson's Blankets.
Also on the point-counterpoint tip, Bill Sherman comes to bury Mark Millar's The Unfunnies, while Alan David Doane comes to praise it. I haven't read the book, so it's tough to comment, but it seems clear that whether it's good or not, it's not exactly the groundbreaking, shocking explosion of comic-book complacency Millar makes it out to be, given that Robert Crumb, the Air Pirates et al were doing this stuff nearly forty years ago now. So the real question is this: Is Mark Millar a) completely ignorant of the history of underground comix, or indeed any comics that aren't superhero fare; b) vaugely aware of their existence but content to ignore them for the purpose of selling this comic to an audience he's fairly certain is completely unaware of them; c) fully familiar with them but ready and willing to bullshit his fans anyway? He appears to be a fundamentally decent guy, so my guess it's either (a) or (b). Any other theories out there?
Also in that ADD post is a review of Paul Hornschemeier's excellent Mother, Come Home. Alan has a tendency to oversell this book--I think it becomes a little too neat in the profundity of its tragedy by the end--but that's really not much of a complaint: If a book's going to stumble a bit, shouldn't it do so by aiming big and not small? Quibbles aside, this is obviously a breakthrough book by a hugely talented artist with years and years ahead of him, and I recommend it highly. So, incidentally, does Time.com's Andrew Arnold (link courtesy of Dirk Deppey.)
Back to Indy Magazine, you'll find an interesting editorial-cum-mission-statement from editor Billy the K. Bill says he'll be focusing on the medium of comics, as opposed to the machinations of the industry--the Direct Market, bookstore sales, the manga boom, et cetera. (Hey, I resemble that remark!--ed.) It comes off as a bit more dismissive of the comics blogosphere--not to mention capitalism (yes, oh woe is this Dartmouth graduate "crushed [him]self between [sic] the boot-heel of capitalism")--than I'm comfortable with, but actual critical analysis of the art, not the business, would be a welcome thing on the web. (Witness the ecstatic reaction to Eve Tushnet's Watchmen essay, for example.)
Speak of the Devil: Eve Tushnet--back to comicsblogging, with a vengeance!--reviews Brian Bendis's killer Daredevil: Hardcore. As Eve notes, this is a tough, tough book to stop yourself buying in its monthly installments.
Chris Puzak breaks down the discounts at Wal-Mart's online graphic-novel store. Any way you slice it, they're pretty damn deep. This is good news for people like me who don't exactly have a lot of disposable income to feed their trade paperback jones, but (as Tegan Gjovaag notes) probably bad news for comics retailers and people who don't like gi-normous retail monstrosities coming in and devouring every market in sight.
Big Sunny D jumps on the Sleeper bandwagon, which Dirk Deppey promptly tries to run off the road. To me, Dirk's complaint reads a little bit like "I would have enjoyed Chicago if it weren't for the damn musical numbers," but diff'rent strokes, etc.
Dirk also asks what the hell the big deal is about Mark Millar anyway. I've got some problems with the man's work (see above), not to mention his online personal, but when Millar is at the top of his game, he brings a slick contemporary zeal to superheroics that's nearly unmatched. If you ignore his tin ear for dialogue, his goofy politics, and his over-the-top pronouncements--sometimes a lot to ignore, I'll admit--you'll find, in Ultimate X-Men and The Ultimates at least, some of the giddiest, oomphiest, least intelligence-insulting superhero action comics of the past decade.
Finally, I think it's worth noting how wrong the usually astute Paul O'Brien is about the most recent New X-Men storyline. As I put it the other day in my top-secret, spoiler-laden musings on said storyline, "Wow. This is the kind of geeky, idea-intensive frisson that the best, most highly-detailed SFF can engender. I love love love it. More more more!"
Lots of great reading for those interested in Watchmen, all inspired by Eve Tushnet: here's Jim Henley, John Jakala, Steven Berg, and Jim Henley again (and again). Superhero stories as a literature of ethics, Soviet apologism, Nixon as "replacement god," "finding meaning by making it," and much more--a great work, yielding great rewards in the exploration thereof.
I'm a little trepidacious about doing this, but I'll hang it up by the end of the week: We've fallen on some tough financial times lately, so I was wondering if you could maybe hit the tip jar to your left and help me make this blog a cost-effective enterprise. (UPDATE: You'll notice from the enormous new button over there that I added an Amazon pay link. I've been told that for many people this is more convenient than PayPal.)
If you need a reason to chip in, perhaps you could find one here at Karolyn's--she's listed 1000 all-purpose reasons. And again, as a thank-you in advance, here's a little blog beautification effort: lyrics to one of my favorite songs. Enjoy!
Candy says, I've come to hate my body
And all that it requires in this world
Candy says, I'd like to know completely
What others so discreetly talk about
I'm gonna watch the bluebirds fly
Over my shoulder
I'm gonna watch 'em pass me by
Maybe when I'm older
What do you think I'd see
If I could walk away from me
Candy says, I hate the quiet places
That cause the smallest taste of what will be
Candy says, I hate the big decisions
That cause endless revisions in my mind
I'm gonna watch the bluebirds fly
Over my shoulder
I'm gonna watch 'em pass me by
Maybe when I'm older
What do you think I'd see
If I could walk away from me
--The Velvet Underground, "Candy Says"
(I highly recommend the cover version found on Beth Gibbons & Rustin Man's album Out of Season.)
Don't get me wrong, I'm happy that The Return of the King was nominated for eleven Academy Awards today, but no nominations in any acting category? Or for cinematography? That's crazy, ladies and gentlemen. Crazy.
It is, however, nice to see Miramax get shut out. Even the Mighty Weinsteins couldn't muscle Cold Mountain into the Best Picture running. I'm sorry, but I just don't understand this new wave of period war epics. Cold Mountain, Master & Commander, and The Last Samurai all look good enough, I suppose, but do any of them contain a giant war-elephant attack? Didn't think so.
You know what? In all seriousness, over the course of the three LotR movies, award-worthy performances were turned in by Viggo Mortensen, Ian McKellen, Ian Holm, Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Andy Serkis, Bernard Hill, and (especially) Sean Bean. Eight actors, three films, and a grand total of one nomination, from the very first film, for the most renowned actor? I'm telling you, man: crazy.
Did I go and start myself a meme? Johnny Bacardi, Rick Geerling, and the Leptard were sufficiently inspired by my long list of high-school favorite albums to write their own. (Bill Sherman gave it a shot, too, but found himself stymied by the predominence of comedy records in his adolescent collection.) You wanna give it a try?
Jim Henley is en fuego. Here he is on a variety of subjects including the irresistability of Brian Bendis's Daredevil, the use of same as a model to beat the "wait for the trade" movement into submission, and the lousy writing in highly-moral clothing in Darwyn Cooke's The New Frontier. And here he is with more thoughts on Watchmen, focusing on character-specific insights of the type we see only too rarely when talking about this book. (For your complete Watchmen round-up, click here.) Those who criticize the comics blogosphere are advised to send themselves in Mr. Henley's direction. (Do you think all this brown-nosing will convince him to blog his thoughts on Jones's Incredible Hulk and Morales's Captain America?)
Grame McMillan presents a quote from Jamie Boardman that neatly sums up the argument against the floppy pamphlet format: normal people don't like reading them. 'Nuff said.
NeilAlien does what he does best (and keep in mind he does a lot of stuff very very well): analyze Dr. Strange appearances in recent comics. His main focus is the good Doctor's cameo in the most recent issue of Daredevil. To a certain extent he's used as comic relief, but he is within character. Neil is puzzled as to what Doc is doing there in the Luke Cage-staged intervention to calm DD the hell down, but it makes sense to me: It's reasonable to assume that there's a sense of brotherhood between vigilante superpeople, even between street-level types and cosmic guys, particularly the NYC-based ones; it's also reasonable to assume that Dr. Strange, one of the most magnanimous heroes in the Marvel pantheon, probably does truly care about Daredevil, even if they've only worked together very rarely. I thought it was actually somewhat touching that Strange and Reed Richards showed up to try to help (as they saw it) Daredevil. Anyway, check out what Neil has to say about it.
Bruce Baugh joins the High School Soundtrack sweepstakes. If you spot anyone else, lemme know.
An odd confluence of media input led me to what may be an insight today. I was flipping through Unknown Pleasures: A Cultural Biography of Roxy Music, then went and listened to King Crimson's Starless and Bible Black while reading the Coober Skeeber "Marvel Benefit Issue." Suddenly it occurred to me: Could the cartoonists of Fort Thunder (the art-school collective that included Brian Ralph, Mat Brinkman, and others, and has come to be associated with Highwater Books and the NON and Kramers Ergot anthologies) be part of the pasticheur tradition to which Eno and Ferry and possibly Fripp (not to mention Bowie) belong?
The F.T. cartoonists do wear their influences on their sleeves, as did early Roxy and Eno; Kirby and Panter are the most obvious ones, but I'm sure there are a good many fine-art figures that I'm unaware of. Several of them are obviously still steeped in the stuff they loved as kids, stuff that's now disregarded by the cognoscenti; Brian Chippendale, for example, still loves Daredevil, and there's a fantasy/D&D aesthetic that a bunch of the FT guys clearly still dig.
But like Roxy and Bowie, Fort Thunder take recognizable elements from the past, not to parody, but to incorporate and experiment with. (The glam rockers' "outmoded" influences were obvious--pop melodies, R&B/soul singers, Hollywood icons--while someone like Fripp's were less so, perhaps, but there's undeniably an incorporation of funk, jazz, even Looney-Tunes soundtracks in Crimso's music.) Moreover, they do so with what Roxy producer (and Crimson lyricist) Pete Sinfield called "naivete"--the simple joy of putting the moving parts together in a new fashion and seeing where it goes. Think of Roxy Music, For Your Pleasure, Here Come the Warm Jets, Larks' Tongues in Aspic, Diamond Dogs--simultaneously literate and tongue-in-cheek, ambitious and a lark, rigorously thought-out and exuberantly rough around the edges.
I'm not impressed by all of the Fort Thunder artists equally, and indeed I sometimes think that this or that comic (or whatever) by them and/or their fellow travelers is downright overrated. But from an artistic perspective, Fort Thunder's work is more immediately exciting than virutally any other current comics I can think of. Like those early-70s pasticheurs, FT creates a sensation that everything's up for grabs and anything goes--it's like taking physical exhiliaration and grafting it into your brain.
To quote the Joker, "I don't know if it's art, but I like it."
Lots of strong stuff today from all over the comicsphere. It's pretty neat.
To paraphrase James Hetfield for no apparent reason: For whom the bell tolls, Watchmen marches on. The ongoing multiblog examination of Alan Moore's epochal graphic novel continues, with Ampersand, Four Color Hell's Todd Murray, and (of course) Jim Henley and Jim Henley again adding to the discourse. (FCH and & links courtesy of Dirk Deppey.) Judaism, "the big shock at the end," the bloody roots of leftwing utopianism, and 80s-reference specificity are tackled this go-round.
(Particularly interesting to me is the leftwing-cautionary angle explored by Ampersand. To me, the troubling aspect of Moore's V for Vendetta is that I'm not convinced it's a cautionary tale; Moore is distressingly ambivalent on the morality of V's terrorist acts, and most importantly V's actions toward Evey. I think Moore showed signs of outgrowing this in Watchmen, but it's worth noting that only when he sets up a right-wing agent of social-good-through-violence, in the form of Jack the Ripper in From Hell, can Moore bring himself to condemn the terrorist enterprise entirely.)
At David Fiore's place, guest-writer Jamie sings the praises of Charles Burns's Black Hole, also known as "the comic I would write and draw if I could write and draw comics." David, you owe it to yourself to put aside that lettercolumn from 1972 for a moment and pick up an issue of this book!
Shawn Hoke talks up autobio heavy-hitter Julie Doucet, an excellent cartoonist whose "busy" aesthetic is an interesting antecedent to that of the Fort Thunder folks I discussed yesterday. (Shawn, can you talk to the Broken Frontier people about getting permalinks set up? Please?)
Also on the altcomix beat is Tegan Gjovaag, who finds the voyeuristic undertones of Gilbert Hernandez's Palomar off-putting. It's an intelligent criticism, moreso because it's derived from observing how the comic actually works, and not from drawing conclusions based merely on the physique of the characters.
Tim O'Neil reviews French cartoonist David B.'s Epileptic Vol. 1. He goes more than a little over-the-top in praising it (as has translator and Fantagraphics honcho Kim Thompson, who ranks it alongside Maus and Jimmy Corrigan!), but it is a fantastic comic (much better than the similar Persepolis, for example), and I'm surprised it got so little attention in the year-end best-of roundups everyone was doing. (Hey, you noticed it!--ed. Yeah, well, maybe mother was right, and I am special! And oh yeah, link courtesy of Dirk Deppey.)
Steven Berg has a couple of new installments in his fascinating series of posts on Grant Morrison's New X-Men. This one tries to figure out what, exacly, the New X-Men are fighting against, and comments the role of such antagonists in superhero comics generally. In another post, inspired by David Fiore, he compares Morrison's recent storylines to the "Death of Gwen Stacy" arc from The Amazing Spider-Man. I think you could argue that they fulfill similar, not inverse, functions: They both pare down the B.S. to get to the emotional heart of various inter-character relationships. (Note to Steven: The Scott-Jean-Emma triangle is indeed a new invention, though obviously you're right to point out that the sexual rivalry in the Jean-Emma relationship goes waaaaay back.)
Speaking of Morrison, Steven Grant has the Quote of the Day in his recent column about the never-ending battle between editors and freelancers for clout with the publishers:
Let's face it, there aren't many comics talents any company considers "indispensable" (otherwise Grant Morrison would still be writing JLA or NEW X-MEN, wouldn't he?)
Not to get all Glenn Reynolds on you, but heh, indeed, and read the whole thing.
Over at Newsarama, Joe Quesada talks about his upcoming Daredevil miniseries. I know this usually gets lost in the shuffle of his salesmanship, but his thinking about comics is pretty astute, and he swings a mean brush to boot.
Dave Intermittent asserts, correctly, that metonymizing "decompressed storytelling" to "talky boring comics" is a big mistake. As a public service, he also reprints a conversation he overheard in a comics shop, one that will make you want to act like Denethor in the film version of The Return of the King and start shouting "Abandon your posts! Flee! Flee for your lives!" (I'm not sure that quoting Tolkien helps prove your point--ed. Shut up.)
Gentleman and scholar Steve Wintle offers some thoroughly unnecessary apologies for his response to my thoughts on comics interviews.
And finally: "Not today, but maybe tomorrow," eh, Jim? I'll hold you to that, pal....
Thank you very much to everyone who's donated to the ADDTF support fund, and to everyone who's linked to my little pleas. You've been extremely kind and helpful, and I really do appreciate it. And again, folks, if you enjoy the blog, please do think about clicking one of the tip jars to the left and contributing.
As usual, I'm not gonna beg and run--here's the customary beautification effort in the form of the lyrics to one of my favorite songs. Enjoy!
When I was young, younger than before
I never saw the truth hanging from the door
And now I'm older see it face to face
And now I'm older gotta get up clean the place
And I was green, greener than the hill
Where flowers grew and the sun shone still
Now I'm darker than the deepest sea
Just hand me down, give me a place to be
And I was strong, strong in the sun
I thought I'd see when day was done
Now I'm weaker than the palest blue
Oh, so weak in this need for you
--Nick Drake, "Place to Be"
Phoebe Gloeckner's most recent attempt to explain why she's reluctant to classify her work as autobiographical caused a good deal of consternation, both pro and con. In the comment thread after that entry, a lot of folks seem to argue that questions about this topic are ridiculous, which of course is itself ridiculous. On the other hand you had Gary Groth's response, in which he astutely and correctly defends the critical validity of examining how an artist's life influences that artist's work, then proceeds to bugger it up with needlessly confrontational invective. I know what you're thinking: "What? Gary Groth, using needlessly confrontational invective? Get outta here!" Try to contain your disbelief. (Question: What does the Bush administration have to do with whether or not Phoebe Gloeckner stars in her own comics? Gary Groth reports, you decide!) Then Lorna Miller starts taking potshots at Gary, and, well, it's TCJ.com messboard time.
The good news, though, is that Phoebe took this opportunity to offer up the clearest, most cogent explanation yet of the relationship between her life, her comics, and the truth:
I won't deny that Minnie does things I have done, and that things happen to her that have happened to me, but she, unlike me, having been created, is who she is and will remain so, unchanged now. I make no attempt to create "documentary."
It comes down to semantics, in the end, or semantics and intent. The presentation of the objective reality of her own life is not in Phoebe's game plan, so she cannot classify her work as autobiographical. At the same time, the events in the work, and the intent behind the creation of the work, do
come from her own life.
As I've said before, it's not inherently purient or myopic or sexist or monomaniacal to ask such questions of Phoebe. I asked them myself, and am usually interested to read her answers when others ask. They're important questions, in fact. But the heated debate they've somehow engendered is an unnecessary and unwelcome distraction. And it's worth noting that it's the work of one of the very best cartoonists on Earth that we're being distracted from.
John Kerry lost my vote last night. Here's how:
The war on terror is less--it is occasionally military, and it will be, and it will continue to be for a long time. And we will need the best-trained and the most well-equipped and the most capable military, such as we have today. But it's primarily an intelligence and law enforcement operation....
If you sat around and tried, you could not find a characterization of the War on Terror further from my own, nor one further from one which (I believe) will keep me from having to inhale 2,800 of my fellow New Yorkers ever again. Goodbye, Mr. Kerry. (Quote courtesy of James Taranto.)
Thank you again to the kindly folks who've contributed or linked to my little Pledge Drive here at ADDTF. Hitting the tip jar to your left really does help out around here, so please consider it if you haven't done so already.
Now, on with the beautification!
I was waiting for a cross-town train in the London Underground when it struck me
That I've been waiting since birth to find a love that would look and sound like a movie
So I changed my plans I rented a camera and a van and then I called you
"I need you to pretend that we are in love again." And you agreed to
I want so badly to believe that "there is truth, that love is real"
And I want life in every word to the extent that it's absurd
I greased the lens and framed the shot using a friend as my stand-in
The script it called for rain but it was clear that day so we faked it
The marker snapped and I yelled "quiet on the set" and then called "action!"
And I kissed you in a style Clark Gable would have admired (I thought it classic)
I want so badly to believe that "there is truth, that love is real"
And I want life in every word to the extent that it's absurd
I know you're wise beyond your years but do you ever get the fear
That your perfect verse is just a lie you tell yourself to help you get by?
--The Postal Service, "Clark Gable"
I'm sure you've noticed by now that I really, really love Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings movies, and brook no dissent. (You got that, Jakala, Miller, and Spratling?) But that doesn't mean I don't have a sense of humor about them. For example, and please pardon my Jerry, but what is the deal with so many characters "dying" but then not really being dead?
The other day I made a little list of everyone in the three LotR movies who appears to shuffle off to Valinor, only to pop back up several scenes later. I've also noted which of these occurrences have some grounding in the books, and which were just thrown in for gits and shiggles by P.J. and company. Did I miss any? Oh, I guess I should note that there are SPOILERS ahead, but let's face it, you've seen the movies already.
THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING
* SAURON: "Death" Prologue sequence--Gets Ring chopped off his hand, explodes; Comeback Prologue sequence--"rumor grew of a Shadow in the East, whispers of a Nameless Fear." Yes, this is in the book.
* GANDALF: "Death" In Isengard--Saruman kicks his ass, then rockets him several dozen stories up into the pitch-black tower or Orthanc until a thud is heard; Comeback Later on in Isengard--We find him on top of Orthanc, where raindrops keep fallin' on his head. Not really in the book, though they do wonder what's taking him so long.
* FRODO: "Death" At the Ford of Bruinen, after Arwen raises the river against the Ringwraiths--His eyes go blank, Arwen cries, "don't give in, not now," etc.; Comeback Next scene--After Elrond says the magic words, Frodo wakes up in Rivendell, where apparently you're allowed to smoke in hospital bedrooms, if Gandalf's behavior is any indication. Yes, this is in the book.
* RINGWRAITHS: "Death" At the Ford of Bruinen--Arwen uses the river to drown them and the horses they rode in on; Comeback In the Dead Marshes sequence in The Two Towers--One of them swoops overhead on a Fell Beast (it's the Cadillac of evil Nazgul steeds), because apparently they were all really strong swimmers. Yes, this is in the book, though in the book it's made immediately clear that they're not dead at all.
* FRODO (II): "Death" In the Mines of Moria, Balin's Tomb fight sequence--the Cave Troll skewers him with a spear; Comeback Same scene--Turns out he was wearing a mithril shirt, the world's most durable lingerie. Yes, this is in the book, although in the book it's a big orc, and not a troll.
* BALROG: "Death" In the Mines of Moria, Bridge of Khazad-Dum sequence--Gandalf uses magic to break the bridge apart, sending the Balrog plummeting, which I suppose indicates that those wings are vestigial; Comeback About five seconds later--The plummeting Balrog has the presence of mind to crack his flaming bullwhip and drag Gandalf down with him. Yes, this is in the book.
* GANDALF (II): "Death" In the Mines of Moria, Bridge of Khazad-Dum sequence--see above; Comeback In The Two Towers--Turns out Gandalf survived the fall (and the swim, and the climb, and the fight) and has been sent back to fight another day. Yes, this is in the book.
* SAM: "Death" In the River Anduin--Sam attempts to swim out to Frodo's boat and goes under a third time; Comeback Several seconds later--Frodo reaches under and pulls him up. This little fakeout is a P.J. invention.
THE TWO TOWERS
* MERRY & PIPPIN: "Death" During the nighttime attack on the Uruk-hai raiders by the Riders of Rohan--a horse rears up, Pippin screams, the hooves come down, thud, and we're meant to presume Merry met a similar fate; Comeback At the end of their long run through Rohan, after much wailing and gnashing of teeth, and after being told by Eomer that their friends are probably dead, Aragorn Legolas and Gimli figure out that nope, they're alive, as we see through flashbacks. This is sort of in the book, but Tolkien doesn't make such a huge deal out of it--the prospect of them being dead is talked about for like two sentences.
* GRISHNAKH THE ORC: "Death" During the aforementioned attack--this orc who wants to eat the hobbits gets a spear in the back just before he can do so; Comeback In the aforementioned flashback--He wasn't dead, just restin', and he grabs Merry & Pippin as they try to escape the carnage, and then follows them into Fangorn Forest. Not in the book--In the book, his ugly ass just gets slaughtered by the Rohirrim lickety-split.
* ARAGORN: "Death" During the warg-rider attack--Aragorn plummets off a cliff because he gets stuck to a runaway warg; Comeback Several scenes later--He just peacefully floated down the river at the cliff bottom until he's woken up by a wet dream and a horse. This one is most definitely not in the book, but hey, what's one more fake death amongst friends?
THE RETURN OF THE KING
* PIPPIN (II): "Death" In Edoras--Pippin steals the Palantir from Gandalf, uses it, meets Sauron, bugs out, goes catatonic; Comeback Same scene--Gandalf manages to bring his fool of a tuchis back to consciousness. Sort of in the book, but we're not really made to think he might be dead, as we are here.
* FARAMIR: "Death" During the charge on Osgiliath--The huge Orc army fires their arrows at his little band of merry men, and if that didn't convince you he bought it, several scenes later we see Faramir's horse drag his body back to Minas Tirith with two arrows sticking out of him; Comeback In the Citadel of Minas Tirith--Dr. Pippin Took, MD, astutely notices that he's not dead, and spends the next chunk of the film trying to keep him from being killed by his crazy father. Yes, this is in the book. Also, I guess that if you want to kill someone from the line of Stewards, use three arrows--that's what they shot into old Boromir, and it seemed to do the trick.
* GOLLUM: "Death" In the Mountains of Shadow, after Frodo "escapes" from Shelob's Lair, only to tussle with poor Gollum and knock him over a cliff; Comeback On the slopes of Mount Doom, where he pops up to make trouble for Frodo and Sam just before they reach the Crack of Doom. No, not in the book--in the book, he just ditches Frodo and Sam in Shelob's tunnels, leaving them for dead, then is forced to follow them through Mordor once his plan fails.
* FRODO (III): "Death" In the Mountains of Shadow, after "escaping" from Shelob's lair, only to have the giant spider sneak up on him and sting him (apparently she aimed for a part of him not covered by the mithril undergarment)--Sam himself pronounces him dead after finding him wrapped up in spider-webs like a hairy-footed Laura Palmer; Comeback In the Mountains of Shadow, where a band of Orcs gleefully explains that he's not dead, he's stunned. Definitely in the book. It's a huge plot point, in fact. Question, though: Both here and with the Cave Troll, why is it that every time Frodo is jabbed by an enemy, he looks like he's taking a difficult dump?
* SHAGRAT THE ORC: "Death" This is the smaller and more talkative of the two Orc captains that find Frodo's body and fight over his swag--the one who gets kicked through the trap door and is promptly mobbed by his angry ersatz partner's cronies; Comeback Several scenes later--Sam makes his way into the Orc tower to find Frodo, who is suddenly set upon by Shagrat, basically the only Orc to survive the internecine battle (despite having personally started it). No, not in the book, though the fight certainly is.
* FRODO (IV) AND SAM: "Death" In and on Mount Doom--First Frodo falls off the rocks inside the Crack of Doom, but hangs on, then Frodo and Sam race out of the Crack, only for their friends to watch in horror as the whole mountain explodes, then we see that they survived the big eruption, only to succumb at last to exhaustion and hopelessness on their lone rock above the rivers of lava; Comeback In a scene that may single-handedly redeem the legacy of Don Henley, Glenn Frey et al, three giant Eagles (with Gandalf on board) swoop in at the last minute and rescue the unconscious hobbits from a fate only Dr. Evil could love. The constant "are they dead? no! are they dead? no! are they dead? no!" alternations aren't really in the book, but they do pretty much give themselves up for dead, until the Eagles save the day.
Well, I think that about covers it. Please be sure to let me know if I missed anything.
And if you think that was comprehensive, just wait till you see my list of Super-Tight Close-Ups On Characters Whose Luminous Eyes Are Welling With Tears!
Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.