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
Read an STC Comic
Buy an STC Comic
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
« February 2004 |
| April 2004 »
March 2004 Archives
I guess the comics creators of the world should thank their lucky stars that The Return of the King isn't eligible for Ignatzes, Harveys, and Eisners.
On Friday I reviewed Mat Brinkman's Teratoid Heights, a book that deserves a lot more attention than it's gotten. If you missed it, click on that link and check it out.
Alan David Doane interviews Johnny Ryan, creator of the incredibly offsensive and hilarious humor series Angry Youth Comix. A lot of people think that publishing this title calls everything else Fantagraphics does into question. Those people are probably right, which is exactly what makes this stuff so goddamn great. If you're looking for proof that humor comics can actually be, you know, funny, look no further.
David Allison of Insult to Injury sings the praises of Jeffrey Brown's Clumsy, astutely pointing out how well Brown navigates material that in lesser hands could be either self-indulgently maudlin or voyeuristically creepy. Even if autobio isn't usually a turn-on for you, I think Brown's stuff will be.
Rich Johnston makes with the gossip about Marvel, saying that new kid-friendly directives are forcing all the New Marvel mojo that remains into the Marvel Knights and MAX imprints. Johnston also reports that Captain America writer Bob Morales, who did a great job with the concept in the miniseries Truth and a not so much job in the actual series, has been axed. As the two-year experiment with a Marvel Knights-style Cap comes to a close, I think it's safe to say the concept failed, which I just don't understand. It just shouldn't be that hard to come up with a vaguely realistic fictional milieu for the character (i.e. one where he isn't fighting Avengers-style supervillains) while simultaneously avoiding the sense that the writer is vaguely embarrassed to be writing the character. Right?
David Fiore continues to make up for what he's wrought on the Comics Journal messboard with some excellent Dark Knight blogging:
Bruce asks us to accept his version of things: he's just a man, ready to battle God ("There's just the sun and the sky and him, like he's the only reason it's all here.") if he must, in the pursuit of justice. But I think that there's a way to enter this text in the guise of Superman (through Clark's "nuclear epiphany; or, how I learned to cease striving for the sun and love the earth", in Bk 4)--and it's a reading which offers a very interesting critique of Batman's Promethean/Ahabian project...
I'd never thought of Miller's Superman in those terms before. Great stuff.
J.W. Hastings submits capsule reviews of various titles that I'm interested in but, for primarily financial reasons, am not buying, which really are the best kind of capsule reviews. Ultimate X-Men, Ultimate Fantastic Four, Punisher, Wanted, Y: The Last Man. Enjoy.
Christopher Butcher reports that Del Rey has backed down from its decision to preemptively censor its imported manga, thanks in large part to what Franklin Harris calls "The Power of Reasonable Bitching."
Mike Sterling defends Grant Morrison from the more-pretentious-than-thou criticism he's been getting from certain quarters of the artcomix commentary world lately. But I'd suggest that after reading a few of the threads from the board where these folks hang out, the stuff refutes itself....
A whole bunch of stuff impressed the hell out of me today.
Alan David Doane asks 5 Questions of Dave Sim, who, get this, answers them comprehensively but succinctly. I learned more about Sim and his work (as opposed to what he thinks of homosexuals, say) in these 5 Questions than I have in years of reprinted screeds and nasty exchanges that go on for page after page in the Comics Journal.
Bruce Baugh offers his own thoughts on Sim in a "What Went Wrong" kind of piece. I know next to nothing about Cerebus, but even given that I know these quotes from Bruce are true:
when the author is himself a character and routinely interjects real-world commentary, sometimes without any veiling at all, then it's not being unfair to reject the story because of disliking those elements of it.
Thank you, Bruce, for summing up why I myself can sometimes read the work of someone whose politics or personal philosophy is diametrically opposed to my own, while other times I can't. Oh, and this:
I haven't read the last 70 or so issues, and I don't have any plans to change that. Not all knowledge is worth the price it takes to acquire it, and in this case, whatever I might learn about characters I used to care about is not worth the pain of engaging with this man's collapsing soul.
Yes, again. I hate to single out the Comics Journal (honest!) but the way they use their letters pages for disgruntled Sim readers to pick fights with the man, who is clearly mentally ill, and then reprint ten pages of hateful ideology from him whenever he provides them with it, teaches us nothing about anything, except about the casual cruelty of the Journal itself.
Now here's something so good I can't even quote from it: David Fiore's latest batch of Dark Knight Returns blogging. So good it makes my head hurt. I'm actually jealous. (I'm also jealous of his summary of the problem with the way the Comics Journal currently covers the superhero genre. But at least I inspired Dave to go get Teratoid Heights--I wonder what the Nabob of Narrative will make of that?)
WARNING: It's incredibly spoiler-rich, but if you've read Jason's Hey, Wait..., you must read Steven Wintle's analysis of it. It reveals something I would never in a million years have noticed myself, and I'm completely gobsmacked. You will be, too.
Jim Henley, Steven Berg, Steven Berg again, and Franklin Harris do battle over whether or not it's good that the X-Men will be back in spandex again. (I know they're still in spandex in the non-New X-Men books, but c'mon, Franklin--those don't count!) I think it's bad, but that has nothing to do with me feeling some sort of embarrassment about superheroes (please)--it has to do with how well the non-spandex outfits worked in the context of Grant Morrison's brilliant run. They were part and parcel of the thrilling complexity of his ideas about change, difference, "villains" and "heroes" (to break out the Bowie quotes--and again, you know these aren't things I'm embarrassed to enjoy!). Anyone who thought the black leather was merely a superficial, cosmetic change missed the point.
Finally, let's all wish a happy blogday to Bill Sherman, the Pop Culture Gadabout! In many ways Bill is my blogfather; his ability to wax erudite on nearly every facet of pop culture is an unceasing inspiration to me. Long may he gad about!
Happy International Read A Comic Book Naked Day from Attentiondeficitdisorderly Too Flat!
Alan David Doane continues his string of amazing gets with a 5,000-word interview with Mr. Alan Moore. It occurs to me that I don't think I've ever read an interview with the writer before, but this one's a great place to start. Moore talks about his new prose novel Voice of the Fire, the legal machinations surrounding his old superhero book Miracleman, the pros and cons of his influential work on Swamp Thing and Watchmen (including a tip of the hat to Frank Miller), and more. He comes off both intelligent and warm. Check it out.
NYTimes.com Ends Publication of Painfully Unfunny, Indescribably Poorly Drawn, Tediously and Self-Consciously "Shocking" Political Cartoons; Ted Rall Hardest Hit (Link courtesy of Kevin Melrose.)
In life, three things are certain: Death, taxes, and people trying to make themselves look smart and with-it by bashing superhero stories. Interman creator Jeff Parker is the latest entrant into the third category; Steven Berg takes him down.
Tackling a subject Jim Henley and yours truly have wracked our brains over for some time now, Tim O'Neil analyzes the trouble with Captain America. Money quote:
Why is it so hard to strike the balance between Captain America the moral idealist and Captain America the professional asskicker?
Or as I put it
the other day, "It just shouldn't be that hard to come up with a vaguely realistic fictional milieu for the character (i.e. one where he isn't fighting Avengers
-style supervillains) while simultaneously avoiding the sense that the writer is vaguely embarrassed to be writing the character."
Finally, is it just me, or does Artbomb's slogan ("A GRAPHIC NOVEL EXPLOSION. PULL THE PIN") remind you of that old line "SUCH-AND-SUCH FEVER--CATCH IT!"?
Mark Grunwald at Slate has a list of John Kerry's reversals on every conceivable policy from affirmative action to gas taxation. As tired as I am of Bush's culture-war sabre rattling, I can't possibly support Kerry, because who the hell knows what side of that war--or The War--Kerry's actually on?
What a loser. Bush's political tactics of late do not exactly inspire confidence, but I can't see how he won't eat Kerry alive.
I am very proud to have participated in the Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth (LIGALY) drive for equal rights under the law. In a genuinely impressive caravan, we travelled to the town halls of Babylon, Brookhaven and Islip, where committed couples (some with children) attempted to apply for marriage licenses. They were turned away (reluctantly, it appeared). They won't be turned away forever.
For news on today's attempts to get the government to acknowledge the right of all its citizens to marry, you can click here, here, or here.
Yesterday I re-watched Martin Scorses's Casino, which may be my favorite of his films. You may be aware of a scene towards the end of the film generally held up as one of the most graphically violent in film history. I want you to trust me when I say that it's worse than you've heard. I'm going to try to talk about it without spoiling the film for those of you who haven't seen it, which may not be the most effective way to go about this, but: The first time I saw it, since I had my own experience with the kind of relationship shared by the two people on the receiving end of the attack, I broke down and sobbed. Each time I've seen it since then, my gut tightens in anticipation, and then when the scene is actually in progress it's so disturbing I can feel it all through my body, from my head to my throat to my stomach to my genitals. It's beyond appalling into the almost overwhelming.
And yet I think it's entirely appropriate. The characters who are attacked have been repeatedly shown to be the absolute scum of the Earth. Most viewers would, by that point in the movie, welcome their deaths. Scorsese was faced with the challenge of depicting a death so horrific that it would shock the audience out of their too-comfortable endorsement of gangster's justice and into a realization of just how terrible this lifestyle really is. I also believe that this and indeed the whole of Casino was a reaction to its more warm and humorous predecessor, GoodFellas, in much the same way that the relentlessly grim Godfather Part 2 was Coppola's attempt to prove to his audience that his intent with the first Godfather movie was not to romanticize the mob. In Casino, Scorsese wanted to make his characters hard to love, hard to enjoy. I think he wanted to make the film that way, too. He succeeded in no small part because of that final act of violence.
My point is that extreme, graphic violence often does serve a purpose in filmmaking. Barker and Cronenberg use it to comment on the relationship between mind and body (Barker somewhat more positively than Cronenberg). Tarantino uses it to reflect on what constitutes honor, loyalty, a life well lived (people miss this since it's layered with pop-culture irony, but it's there). The indie horror cycle of the early 1970s (beginning in 1968 with Night of the Living Dead) used it to comment on the horrific injustices of that era, and to break through audience resistance to them.
Mel Gibson is different. He's not making a filmic point. He's not making a thematic point. He's not even making a political point. He's making a life-philosophy point. He wants his viewers to internalize the violence in The Passion of the Christ, take it upon themselves, feel that they are the people wielding the whips and the scourges and driving the nails. I think he knows full well that in addition to the guilt and shame that this will produce (as it must: guilt and shame are integral parts of his vision of Christianity), it also produces a vicarious thrill, a sado-masochistic charge, and a desire for collective expiation of those feelings against a similar scapegoat. That feeling you get in your gut and your balls when you see that beating in Casino? He wants that to be the basis for how you live your entire life. He wants that to be the basis of your relationship to God Himself.
I'm not saying that it's wrong to have an emotional basis for your faith. In my opinion, no other basis for faith is possible--an intellectual basis misses the point of faith, an inherently non-intellectual value, altogether. The problem is that this is deeper than emotion, into a physical reaction of revulsion and disgust, which since they cannot be indefinitely borne, are translated into emotional/intellectual actions--in the case of Casino, condemnation and rejection. In the case of The Passion, it's supposed to translate into adoration and obedience, an ever-present knowledge that this happened because of you, that your only salvation is following the man this happened to, and that those who do not follow him are committing the kind of sin that caused this man to be brutalized so in the first place. There are other mass movements in recent times that tried to bridge the physical and emotional in worship of an extraordinary man and his extraordinary ideals and in fanatical opposition to those who opposed him. I need hardly mention the names.
In my original post on The Passion I stated that I doubted the anti-Semitic nature of the film because I trusted the judgement of American critics and pundits like Ebert & Roeper and the God Squad. But Gibson is not a film critic or an ecumenicist, and neither is his target audience. His loathsome political leanings are clear enough: His throwback anti-Vatican II "Catholicism," his damnation of all people not of his denomination, his homophobia, his flirtation with Holocaust revisionism. I say we take Gibson at his word, and believe that his faith is what motivates his every action. His faith, therefore, is what leads him to make these grotesque statements and hold these awful beliefs. His faith is one of cataclysmic violence and pain--violence so profoundly all-encompassing that he felt the need to continuously one-up the Gospel descriptions of it. Torture, maiming, and killing aren't just a facet of his faith--they're central to it. And the film's Jews are central to that central point. That's the faith he's promoting.
That's why I will not see his movie.
For an optimistic-sounding round-up of various developments on the marriage rights front here in New York State, check out this New York Times article. The same-sex marriage caravan I participated in is mentioned prominently. Thank goodness for the liberal media, eh?
Tony Blair, in a simply astounding speech, lays everything on the line about the War on Terror, spelling out in crystal-clear detail the link between tyranny, Islamic extremism, terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, September 11th, myopic "anti-war" movements, and ossified international institutions. He gently but righteously upbraids his critics for ignoring the real issue at hand. He points out that our invasion of Iraq has not only brought the hope for democracy into one of the most Godforsaken regions on earth but given new strength to our efforts to root out terror, tyranny, and especially the proliferation of mass-mudering weapons in countries like Libya, North Korea, and Iran. He rejects the conservative definition of sovereignty proffered by the outdated Treaty of Westphalia and now inexplicably embraced by so-called liberals and libertarians. He refuses to back down on this, the most important issue facing humanity today.
It's an enormously uplifting speech for people, like me, who think free societies should use their collective might to free other societies--a cause one would think the liberals and libertarians I speak with here in my corner of the internet every day would support with all their hearts. Why don't they? I wish I knew.
I also wish I had a President who could articulate these ideals so clearly, who could set the terms of the debate so strongly, who could overcome the cries of "move on" and "you lied" with such incandescent strength and vision. I wish I had a President who fought for these ideals at home as well as abroad. Regardless of who wins our upcoming election, these things seem unlikely. But here in my little corner of the internet, and in my own life, I'm going to try to do these things myself, as best I can.
Since I've scaled back my comics purchasing budget, I've forgone a good many trade paperbacks and graphic novels that I'd really like to have. I'm wondering: Do any of you, my delightful readers, have any copies of the following that you'd be willing to donate or trade?
Battle Royale Vol. 5
Battle Royale Vol. 6
Captain America Vol. 4: Cap Lives
Captain America: Truth: Red, White & Black
Gyo Vol. 1
Gyo Vol. 2
Hellboy: Weird Tales Vol. 1
Hellraiser: Collected Best Vol. 2
Incredible Hulk Vol. 5: Hide in Plain Sight
Incredible Hulk Vol. 6: Split Decisions
Powers Vol. 5: Anarchy
Superman: Red Son
Supreme Power Vol. 1: Contact
Ultimate X-Men Vol. 7: Blockbuster
Uzumaki Vol. 1
Uzumaki Vol. 2
Uzumaki Vol. 3
If you'd like to make a donation, terrific--send me an email. If you'd like to trade, that too is terrific--I have a trade list here at Sequential Swap, and I've also got plenty of complete sets of individual issues that you won't find on that list. Drop me a line and we'll work something out.
Semi-comics blogger Franklin Harris is on a roll today.
First, he posts on the Spurgeon/Raphael Stan Lee book, pointing out that as far as taking too much credit for the creation of the Marvel Universe is concerned, Jack "King" Kirby actually oustripped The Man. Of course, Lee was the one who was actually in a position to truly cement his erroneous claims (or, to be charitable, his lack of correct ones) over the years, but still, a post worth examining.
Second, he examines the deeply creepy news that a North Carolina sheriff's captain is prepping to wage war against manga, because, you know, all those clean-minded teenagers might think about s-e-x if they were to read Love Hina. I think this could accurately be described as a ripple effect from the federal governments asinine decency hearings of recent weeks--this sheriff is simply modeling the behavior of Michael Powell et al, all of whom really have better ways to spend my tax dollars these days. The problem is that on a small, localized scale, and against a medium that garners little public recognition or support, such crusades as the good Captain's can really do some damage, ruining businesses and instituting a thought-police regime against small-town kids with no other options. Keep an eye on this one.
Finally, Franklin calls our attention to a minor scandal involving the late Silver-Age superstar Julius Schwartz, who was apparently something of a dirty old man. It would seem that the Comics Journal is exhuming a 13-year-old unpublished interview with cartoonist Colleen Doran to help make this point in an upcoming issue. Worthwhile expose, tasteless schadenfreude, or both? It's too early to make the call just yet.
Franklin's a swell linkblogger, but pieces of his that run even slightly longer than usual are a real treat, and these ones are no exception. I hope we see more of them.
The Missus has begun mc'ing.
Frank Vincent is going to be on this season of The Sopranos.
Oh, hey, my blogroll over there has undergone some serious updating over the past couple-three weeks, including some new additions today. Get yrself acquainted with some of the terrific sites listed therein.
One of which, by the way, is a new blog by military historian and American Warblogger Idol Victor Davis Hanson. Next to Christopher Hitchens, Hanson is my favorite writer on the War on Terror, which facts probably tell you everything you need to know about my feelings about the War on Terror, but there you have it. Permalinks pending, it would appear. Man, he's good. (Link courtesy of Charles Johnson.)
Also new to the 'Net is this season's Slate/Sopranos running discussion. Instead of last season's shrink-centric roundtable, this year we've got the musings of mob reporters Jeffrey Goldberg and Jerry Capeci. Capeci is the author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Mafia, the most comprehensive and easy-to-follow book on the subject I've ever read.
Here's the scoop on the standard-edition DVD for The Return of the King. It's coming out much earlier than its predecessors did, but I still have yet to hear whether the extended-edition set will be released sooner as well.
Finally, fuckin' Freemasons. Nothing changes.
Chris Allen sings the praises of the comics blogosphere. Alan David Doane doesn't think he's singing loud enough. La la la!
ADD also has a 5-Question interview with True Story, Swear to God creator Tom Beland. Beland was on the Comics Journal message board once or twice back in the day and rubbed me the wrong way (which is unsurprising, because as Evan Dorkin points out, that board brings out the absolute worst in absolutely everyone), but I really like his attitude as it comes across in this interview. Give it a read.
But hey--occasionally a nugget of value can drop from between the Journal messboard's clenched cheeks. For example, board regular Chris Polkki will be editing a new anthology series for Fantagraphics, called Blood Orange. Marc Bell, Anders Nilssen, John Hankiewicz, Ron Rege Jr., Jeffrey Brown, and many more plan to contribute. Fanta has been seen as unnecessarily hostile to young alternative cartoonists--this title ought to go a long way toward putting that to rights. (Link courtesy of Egon, who really needs individual-entry permalinks.)
In a column about CrossGen's attempt to get back on track, Steven Grant points out that its ostensibly superhero-free lineup is, of course, full of superheroes--"it was blatantly obvious to everyone they were." Shhhhh--don't tell Mike Dean!
(While I have your attention, can someone tell Comic Book Resources to put date-specific permalinks to each column within the column itself?)
The Pulse interviews Incredible Hulk writer Bruce Jones. It's a surprisingly in-depth look at Jones's thoughts about his work on the series.
Bill Sherman reads and reviews about forty million comics, so you don't have to!
Finally, holy crap--Enid Coleslaw is an anagram for Daniel Clowes! Did everyone else know this but me? Seriously, I never would have noticed that on my own. Thank you, Guy Leshinski! (Link courtesy of Kevin Melrose.)
How did AiT/PlanetLar head honcho Larry Young develop such a hard-on for bloggers?
(Larry's own blog, which is exactly what it is, doesn't have individual-entry permalinks, so check out the entry for March 10th. Link courtesy of Graeme McMillan.)
I don't get it--it's not like he's a publisher people tear to pieces on a daily basis, like Marvel or DC or CrossGen. As far as AiT/PL books go, everyone seems to like True Story, Swear to God, and while Brian Wood's work is somewhat polarizing, I feel like his hit-miss ratio as far as bloggers are concerned is pretty respectable. Compared to the treatment various bloggers have given Mark Millar, Chuck Austen, Lee Loughridge, Gary Groth, Matt Brady, "Jess Lemon," Jeph Loeb, Craig Thompson, Joe Quesada, Mark Alessi, Tony Isabella, Brian Bendis, Bill Jemas, Warren Ellis, Grant Morrison, Dave Sim, Mike Dean, Kurt Busiek & George Perez, Seth, and so forth--not to mention other bloggers--Larry and his stable have gotten off comparatively easy.
I guess he was tangentially involved in that old blogosphere dust-up with James "The Comics Pimp" Sime, but reacting to that teapot-tempest in the fashion Larry has (if indeed that's the impetus behind it) would be similar to someone on the other side of that argument deciding that because they disagreed with the point of view espoused by one retailer, all retailers are idiots. And that, of course, is just plain dumb (especially considering that even the retailer in question is himself not an idiot).
Finally, I suppose Larry could legitimately believe that the comics blogosphere as a whole isn't any good, but that's even dumber.
If the majority of comics bloggers really are such lousy writers, then there shouldn't be much harm in Larry actually naming the bloggers he thinks are so bad, rather than continuing in this passive-aggressive vein.
Since you’re just not going to hear this on the network news broadcasts, I thought I should point out that military casualties in Iraq are down significantly. Good news doesn’t fit the narrative, of course. (The media may be liberal overall, but it's the desire to set up conflict and adversity that's the real problematic bias.) This is also why you will not hear John Kerry talk about this. Or about the new democratic Afghan and Iraqi constitutions. Or, really, about any place that isn’t Vietnam.
Now that the terrorists in Iraq have called it a day with attacking American troops—you know, the people capable of firing back—they’ve moved on to civilians. The shrine attacks, and the attacks today in Madrid, are representative of this strategy, and a fairly good indicator of the type of people we’re at war with.
I’m sure that if we just gave up and retreated within Fortresses America and Europe respectively, though, they’d just leave us alone.
So with all this bad bloggin' blood flowing around the Internet lately, I decided to go to the Brian Bendis message board and start a thread that would shed some light on the fact that comics blogs are actually pretty good. Here's that thread. Enjoy!
TheOneRing.net brings you speculation and spoilers, translated from a German source, as to what will appear on the Extended Edition DVD of The Return of the King.
I'm a little excited.
Suddenly these thoughts just overwhelmed me: I just want to say how heartbroken I am for the people of Spain, how sorry I am that these murders took place. I've never been there, but for three years I was a railroad commuter, travelling in and out of the big city. The people killed in Madrid were people like me, trying to earn a living, perhaps looking forward to seeing their coworkers, perhaps looking forward to being back home with their families that afternoon. They ate breakfast and drank coffee and kissed their wives or husbands or kids or pets goodbye. They read the paper, listened to their headphones, took a nap, stared out the window, thought about today's meetings and schedules and projects, thought about the weekend. Now they're gone forever because a band of vicious killers thought God wanted them dead.
The tragedy of this, on every level, is unspeakably profound. Please spare a thought for these commuters, and their country, and our world.
In addition to the raw agony I feel about the 199 murders that took place in Madrid the other day, there's the agonizing wait to find out how the people of Spain, and of Europe, will react. After the initial grief and shock subsides, will they wave the white flag, offer a mea culpa, wash their hands of the efforts to safeguard civilization against those who are engaged in the process of destroying it, and decide that the best response to being senselessly brutalized by nihilist sectarian murderers is to try to make themselves inoffensive to them, in hopes that this will be enough to persuade the killers to direct their sickness elsewhere? Or will they find renewed determination to condemn such acts and their perpetrators regardless of their so-called justifications, declare that deliberate murder of people whose only crime was going to work one morning is anathema to life as we know it, stand up against the notion that no one is innocent and that everyone is fair game for a murderous god to destroy, and take the fight to these enemies of liberalism and democracy and humankind without embarassment and without hesitation and without mercy? Whither Spain? Whither Europe?
Agonizing though this wait might be, one thing it will not be is long. Spanish elections are tomorrow.
Uprising in Iran.
Uprising in Syria.
"Wind is changing!"
--Ghan-buri-Ghan, The Return of the King
(Links courtesy LGF, IP.)
Here are three paintings by my comically talented wife. Consider it art therapy.
...and then I'm done for the day. Glenn Reynolds has a long post on the Spanish election and the lessons it teaches, offering a variety of links and points of view. Definitely worth a look.
Okay, now go look at the paintings.
Spain sent a message to terrorists today, and the message was "we give up." The message is "you were right." The message is "you win."
Pre-election bombings in other countries (including our own), already likely, are now a virtual certainty. And why shouldn't they be? Spain's Socialists and their supporters have taught al Qaeda that murdering 200 commuters for no reason is perfectly viable campaign strategy.
The Spain debacle is easily the biggest setback to the free world since the War on Terror began, and I feel worse about it than I can remember feeling about anything since that awful autumn. It truly is a disaster--not just for the local- and geo-political ramifications, mind you, but (it bears repeating) because this virtually guarantees that many many more people will be killed in countries across the globe whenever an election is in the offing.
ADDTF reader George writes in to lament the lack of attention being paid to these issues here in America. Of course, the reason it's not being made a bigger deal of in this country is because the people responsible for making things a big deal, the major news media, think that voting the PP out of office was an eminently sensible response to being attacked by terrorists--a dress rehearsal, if you will, for November 2004 here in the good old U.S. of A.
Not good. Not good at all.
Meanwhile, as a commenter points out here, a major Western nation has just been defeated by an army of approximately one dozen people.
Europe is gone.
I wonder if history will look at 9/11 or 3/11 as the more momentous occasion.
I want the War on Terror to be fought and to be won now, because the potential outcome if we do not do this is beyond terrible. I think there are two possibilities if we do not take the war as seriously as we should right now, and fight to win. The first is that eventually a massive terrorist strike will destroy a major Western or American city, and that in retalliation a nuclear exchange will wipe out much of the Muslim world in order to prevent such an attack from ever happening again. While technically a "victory" for the West, needless to say this will be the most horrific event in history. I have no desire to see billions of innocent people die in a completely avoidable man-made armageddon, and I have no desire to see the free world commit mass murder, as whatever freedom we preserve will be irrevocably tainted. The second possibility is that eventually a massive terrorist strike will destroy a major Western or American city, but self-preservation will be trumped by self-abnegation, and we will not respond with overwhelming force. Thus, as the barbarians once destroyed Roman civilization by slowly chipping away, civilization as we know it will slowly be chipped away, as we cower and appease our new fundamentalist masters to avoid incurring their wrath again. The caliphate will rise again, as pluralist democracy will slowly disappear.
That's how I see this conflict playing out: two nightmare scenarios, avoidable if and only if we take the conflict seriously in the here and now and battle on all possible fronts against fundamentalist Islam, its bankers and armament suppliers, and its murderous, fascist practitioners.
Even more than 9/11, 3/11 was an attempt by the enemy to directly challenge the West. Three days before an election in a major Western democracy, they slaughtered 200 innocents for the crime of getting up in the morning and going to work in a country whose leadership was taking the War on Terror seriously. In their alleged claims of responsibility, al Qaeda has made it quite clear that the bombings are a direct response to Spain's participation in the antifascist coalition in Iraq.
How will the Spanish people respond? The conventional wisdom instantly promulgated by the world news media--and, not coincidentally, the opposition Socialist party--is that they will angrily vote the government out of office for having the temerity to defy the wishes of the murderous vanguard of Islam. Oddly, this same "conventional wisdom" has it that if, as initially thought, the Basque separatist group ETA was responsible, this would actually work in the government's favor, since they'd taken a hard line against the group. In other words, taking a hard line against al Qaeda and Islamic fascism would cost the government the election if those groups were behind the blasts, but taking a hard line against the ultraleft Basque separatists would win them the election if that group was responsible. Odd, isn't it, that this contradictory CW dictates a government loss given the facts as we now know them. Why, it's almost as if certain parties have an interest in seeing a certain outcome.
The point is, though, that the people of Spain may well be on the verge of sending the following message: "we're sorry, nice Islamic terrorists, we should never have gotten involved in fighting against you and in toppling tyrants, we're going to vote the leaders who got us in this mess out of office, we want to pull out, we want peace, peace now, peace unilaterally, please leave us alone, we're sorry, we know it's our fault for doing something you don't want us to have done, you're not such bad guys, we're sure you'll understand, please please don't hurt us any more, we deserved it but we won't deserve it anymore, we're sorry, you win." They'll send the terrorists the message that they have the power, through the murder of innocents (although they'll show they agree with the killers that, though innocent, they probably deserved it in some sense), the forces of fundamentalism have the power to bring down a government.
Where will it end after that? Where will the newly emboldened terrorists lead us? As I said, there are two possibilities. And I'm so, so afraid of both.
Slow news weekend for funnybook fans!
In his daily link roundup, Tim O'Neil gives gossipmongers Markisan Naso and Rich Johnston the business. I read their columns religiously, but a little criticism never hurt anybody.
Kevin Melrose links to a New York Times report from some sort of Bizarro World where purveyors of prose fiction are attempting to siphon respectability-through-osmosis from comic books! And this Bizarro World is America, where manga publisher Vertical Inc. is looking to capitalize on the success of Japanese comics by importing Japanese novels. Well, now I've seen everything.
Chris Butcher & Scott Robins point out something I'd missed: Fantagraphics is releasing Tell Me Something, the new graphic novel from Norwegian master of melancholy (and slapstick, believe it or not) Jason, this week. Hey, alright.
Franklin Harris links to the news that Brian Bendis will be taking the reigns of The Avengers, believe it or not. Bendis has an almost supernatural knack for taking the geekiest, wonkiest, fanboy-est ideas around and actually producing something adult and compelling with them--the Sinister Six, Venom, the umpteenth Daredevil/Bullseye faceoff, Secret Wars, etc.--and he's really gonna have his work cut out for him with this, the goofiest remaining mainline-Marvel "flagship" book.
Speaking of Bendis, how's this for a false dichotomy:
Oh, and for those of you who would argue that we don’t need another JINX, or that ALIAS and DAREDEVIL are the new JINX’s from Bendis, all I want to do is point out the difference between POWERS and even Bendis’ most mature Marvel work. The differences, what he can and can’t do, are obvious. Plainly stated, particularly when you put the two works in sharp contrast. POWERS is the one that people are going to remember 10 years from now.
That's from the aforementioned Chris Butcher
, who seems to have adopted Tim O'Neil-style boilerplate superhero-bashing
as an article of faith, only with the novel twist of bashing only "franchise" superhero titles. Folks, does anyone
who's been reading Ultimate Spider-Man
or the late Alias
think that those books will be looked upon less favorably than Powers
a decade hence? I don't get it--is Powers
better because it can show people fucking or being disemboweled? Is it better because it enables Bendis to get under the skin of DC-character pastiches, rather than being limited to doing so to actual Marvel characters? Is it better because the man formerly responsible for publishing it was ousted by Erik Larsen instead of Ike Perlmutter? Nope, I just don't get it. Powers
is an excellent book, but so are Bendis's Marvel efforts, and acting like there's a clear-cut drop-off in quality between the former and the latter makes no damn sense at all.
I tend to find Jeff Jarvis's posts on the Howard Stern/ClearChannel situation more than a bit hyperbolic. Of course I'm outraged at the way the federal government (Democrats and Republicans, by the way) are using thinly veiled anti-First Amendment blackmail to influence the broadcasters, and at how ClearChannel used Howard as a sacrificial lamb to placate the FCC and Congress (and, perhaps, the White House). But Stern is an unfunny idiot, and had no problem at all infringing on free speech when rival jocks (and fellow Infinity Broadcasting employees) Opie & Anthony were the ones doing the speaking. (Stern used all his clout to get Infinity to crack down on O&A's anti-Stern jokes, to the point where the company forbade the duo to mention Stern's name, or even elliptically refer to "a certain morning DJ.") Stern is an obnoxious hypocrite, and if he's a poster child for belief in the Bill of Rights, then I am Mickey Mouse.
That said, I couldn't help but chuckle in disbelief at Jeff's latest Stern-news installment. Jarvis posted a report from a reader who heard some anti-satellite-radio commercials on his local broadcast stations, ostensibly created in anticipation of Stern's threatened defection to Sirius satellite radio. What did the broadcasters come up with as one of their big selling points? Yes! We have more censorship!
The second ad is amusing in an odd way because it spend more than half the time having people complain about foul language. Someone complains about hearing swearing in songs when normally it's bleeped out on regular radio (yeah, people love it when radio edits the song of their favorite bands); another person talks about how he often forgot to change the dial when his kid gets in the car so the kid hears all the swearing (forego satellite radio--for the children!).
Amazing. The broadcasters and their big-government friends are touting their ability to parent you and your children, so you won't have to. Well, at least they know their culturally conservative audience: "Janet Jackson's nipple, Howard Stern's cursing, and committed gay relationships bad!
Taking the kids to watch Jesus get flayed alive for two hours good!
Have you taken a look at these paintings yet? And get a load of the shirt she won on eBay today. Let's just say that The Missus is going to be the belle of the San Diego Comic-Con! "Spider-sense tingling" indeed!
Martha Stewart quits company board
Iraq opponents march to White House (Sixty whole people! Wow! Stop the press!)
The Syrian military, some 10,000 strong, surrounds several northern cities in possible preparation for a Hama-style massacre
Question: Which of the following stories can not be found on CNN.com's front page today?
(Syria and protest links courtesy of Glenn Reynolds.)
The estimable Jim Henley labors mightily to tease an interpretation out of the Spanish attack/election that doesn't involve the word "appeasement," and comes up with the following:
1) The from-behind Socialist victory was about Prime Minister Aznar playing politics with the bombing investigation, and not about the Iraq War;
2) Except when the from-behind Socialist victory was about the Iraq War, but it was Aznar's own fault for backing a course of action overwhelmingly rejected by his constituents.
So if you go by Jim's second theory, we've all learned a valuable lesson, which is that if you're a politician, and you're mulling over a course of action that is right but is also unpopular, it really is best to listen to the polls. (Or to the terrorists, who, as Jim's fellow antiwar libertarian semi-comics blogger Franklin Harris points out in the comment thread to this post, were really just giving the Spaniards an impolite but nevertheless necessary reminder as to the appropriate electoral outcome. (Yikes.)) Well, Jim, we certainly wouldn't want politicians to evaluate their potentially unpopular policies on a case-by-case basis, or indeed to do anything but slavishly obey the whims of their constituents, would we?
But if you go by Jim's first theory (let's try 'em all on for size and see what fits, how's that sound?), i.e. that this wasn't a repudiation of the Iraq war in deference to the will of Islamist terror but an expression of dissatisfaction with the way the government was handling the investigation--well, let's just say that some folks appear not to have gotten that particular memo:
Spain's prime minister-elect, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, vowed to withdraw troops from Iraq and criticised US President George W. Bush after Spanish voters ousted the government that dragged their country into the controversial war.
"The war in Iraq was a disaster, the occupation of Iraq is a disaster," Zapatero, 43, told Cadena Ser radio Monday....
...An ongoing investigation into the attacks has found growing evidence they were carried out by Islamic extremists linked to Al-Qaeda as punishment for Spain's help in the invasion and occupation of Iraq....
...Spain's Socialists won 43 percent of the ballots to 38 percent for the PP, largely because of the near-total public opposition to the war, Zapatero said.
Turnout was a high 77 percent, reflecting the strong emotions in the aftermath of the attacks.
Many voters had expressed anger at Aznar, who had previously announced he was retiring after the elections. He was jostled and booed at Sunday while some protesters shouted "Aznar: your war, our dead."
Zapatero, making good on an pre-election pledge, said that barring new developments in Iraq before June 30 -- the date the United States has promised to hand power over to an Iraqi provisional government -- Spain's 1,300 troops in Iraq "will return home"....
...Zapatero firmly aligned himself with France and Germany, which opposed the war from the start, in calling the invasion an "error"....
...Bush and Blair, both of whom are facing elections in coming months, need to engage in "self-criticism," Zapatero said.
"You can't bomb a people" over a perceived threat, Zapatero said in comments coming five days before the first anniversary of the March 20 start of the war.
"You can't organise a war on the basis of lies," he said, alluding to Bush's and Blair's insistence the war was justified by their belief -- so far unfounded -- that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction that posed an imminent threat.
"Wars such as that which has occurred in Iraq only allow hatred, violence and terror to proliferate," he said.
The head of the EU executive arm, European Commission chief Romano Prodi, agreed, in an interview published by Italy's La Stampa newspaper Monday.
"It is clear that using force is not the answer to resolving the conflict with terrorists," Prodi said. "Terrorism is infinitely more powerful than a year ago," and all of Europe now feels threatened, he told the paper.
(Emphases mine; link courtesy of Andrew Sullivan
Hmm. The victorious Socialist candidate, the chief of the European Commission, and the average Spanish voter (at least according to this report) all seem to have done what we hawkish warblogging types have been ever-so-gently chided for, and jumped to the conclusion that this election shows is Europe's way of showing that terrorists should not be fought, that Europe is unserious about rebuilding Iraq and preventing terrorist infiltration thereof, and that in a choice between Bush-advocated policies and al Qaeda-advocated policies, Europe is more comfortable with the latter. Don't they know they're supposed to wait until they hear from experts like Atrios's wife?
Update: As it turns out, Prodi probably said that terrorism could not be dealt with by force alone, which is a little bit better. Still, why do I get the sense that the additional methods he has in mind don't rolling up financial networks and monitoring communications and infiltrating madrassas, etc., so much as they involve Asking Ourselves Why They Hate Us and tiptoeing around so as not to wake them up (and, in all likelihood, really sticking it to the goddamn Jews)?
Postcript: Jim also joshes me for expecting too much too soon from PM-elect Zapatero in terms of getting tough on terror. Four days after the worst terror attacks in the country's history, and here I am expecting the country's new leader to do something about it! Easy there, tiger!
No, no, I kid. Jim's point stems from the fact that my language was unclear: It made it sound like I wanted to see less talk and more action from Zapatero, when no one but the Flash would have had time or ability to do anything but talk at the point when I made my initial comments. What I was trying to say was that Zapatero's acceptance-speech comments vowing to fight terror were offset, in my view, by his next-day interviews calling the Iraq War a disaster and an error, saying that Bush and Blair lied and were waging war on an entire people, and reiterating his intention to pull Spanish troops out of Iraq ASAP. (This was before I'd seen his earlier comments to the effect that he wanted John Kerry to win in the U.S. so that he and the distinguished gentleman from Massacusetts could form an "alliance...for peace, against war, [and] no more deaths for oil." So it's not really fair to draw any conclusions from those statements, is it.)
'Course, I'm just one of those starry-eyed hawks who thinks that Iraq and the War on Terror are in some way related, which is a notion that has nothing to do with what's been happening in Spain over the past week, no sirree Bob.
Post-postscript: Jim also brings the sobering news that Bob Zangas, a blogger who travelled to Iraq to help the reconstruction as both a Marine and a civilian, has been killed by rogue Iraqi cops. Normally this is the point where the chickenhawk argument would be expected against my wrongheaded bellicose warmongering, so go ahead and make it, if you're so inclined. I'll simply say now, as I've said before, that I advocate the policies I've been advocating out of the fervent belief that, when all is said and done, they will lead to fewer murdered Bob Zangases, not more. Until then, if you believe nothing else I say, believe me when I tell you that I feel the pain of each of these deaths. One is a tragedy. Two hundred is a tragedy. Three thousand is a tragedy. My hope is that these compounded tragedies will somehow make us act in such a way as to avoid the eventual seven-digit statistic.
Post-post-postcript: A round-up of all my Spain posts is here.
Necessary caveat: Regardless of the actions of the Spanish electorate, regardless of the political ramifications thereof, 200 people are dead, 1500 are wounded, and countless others are greiving. It's still an unspeakably awful tragedy, and the heart still strains with the senslessness and pain of it. Mine does, that's for sure.
You're starting to miss me talking about Blankets, aren't you?
Here are some more thoughts on Spain (for earlier installments, go here, here, here, here, here, and here):
1) The first and most obvious conclusion to draw is that al Qaeda will now begin its very own "Rock the Vote" campaign in earnest. Jim Henley points out that the motives of the Spanish electorate probably were more nuanced than "we supported the U.S., al Qaeda attacked us, we should now stop supporting the U.S.," (Aznar's simple reluctance to ascribe the bombings to anyone but the Basques despite mounting evidence agains this theory seemed to have angered a lot of voters, and rightly so) but when talking about the thought process behind al Qaeda, "nuanced" is the last word I'd use. These motherfuckers want to conquer the world, like HYDRA or A.I.M. for Chrissakes. They're going to draw a lesson from this, no doubt about that, and the lesson is "murdering hundreds of people in countries with governments who oppose us will lead to the toppling of those governments." If I were English or Italian, I'd be very worried right now. And if I were American, I'd--oh, hey, look at that! This ought to be a fun campaign season.
2) Aside from the thinking of al Qaeda, the thinking of many--not all, I'm sure, but many--Spaniards was very similar:
It reads, "Could this picture have cost 200 deaths?" And then there's this:
This one says, "The bombs dropped in Iraq explode in Madrid." It's clear that a large number of Spanish voters viewed the Madrid terror murders as a direct consequence of Spanish involvement in Iraq--and what's more, they thought that the terrorists were, all things considered, in the right! Granted, their methods were a little blunt, but the message was received, and agreed with.
Granted, these kinds of protestor images are the type the news media would invent if they didn't already exist, but it does seem that thousands of like-minded protesters took to the streets on election eve saying just this sort of thing. Then they woke up on Sunday and said it again, in the ballot box.
3) It is also, by the way, the exact same thing being said by the winner of the election, Socialist Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. In his first post-election interview, an interview which quite frankly is beyond my worst nightmare vision of what this guy was going to do and say, the newly elected Prime Minister says:
"The war has been a disaster, the occupation continues to be a disaster. It has only caused violence," Zapatero said in his first interview after a surprise triumph on Sunday.
"There must be consequences. There has been one already -- the election result. The second will be that the Spanish troops will come back," he said.
"Mr Blair and Mr Bush must do some reflection and self-criticism. You can't bomb a people, you can't organise a war with lies," he added in a lengthy chat with Spain's Cadena SER radio.
Zapatero goes on to say "I want Europe to see us again as pro-European, my feeling is that the election result has caused surprise but a lot of satisfaction in Europe." "Europe," of course, means nothing more or less than "France and Germany"--countries like the U.K. and Poland are just as firmly entrenched on the European left-elite's pay-no-mind list as they are on John Kerry's (whose every statement to the effect that we have no real allies anymore is a kick in the nuts of every British and Polish soldier in the field, to say nothing of those countries' leaders). Basically you have the brand-new leader of a major European nation capitulating to about a dozen bombers, threatening to bring his troops home from a country that needs a destabilizing pull-out like it needs a SARS outbreak, saying that the election result and the horrendous violence are both direct consequences of the "disastrous" invasion and occupation, repeating the "BUSH LIED/BLAIR LIED" tinfoil-hat party line, and making it quite clear to the American people that he doesn't really care about them at all. Just wanted to make that clear, since it's perfectly clear to Zapatero, and the people who elected him, and the murderers who engineered that election result. (Link courtesy of The Command Post
4) And lest you think that it's only Gulf War II that the Spanish thought it was a terrible idea to support (it's always a good idea to try to leave this conflict aside, seeing as how it's a totally unrelated neocon Zionist oil-baron imperialist project with no relation whatsoever to the War on Terror, etc.):
This is a book of remembrance left at one of the train stations where an attack took place, and the message reads "Aznar: the answer of Afghanistan and Iraq is here." Emphasis mine. Now unless you're maintaining regular (out to) lunch dates with Ted Rall, it seems safe to assume that the Afghan War was a direct response to the 9/11 attacks, its goal being to depose the regime that supported the attackers and capture or kill their associates and commanders. This, generally speaking, is believed even by people who think the Iraq War was an unrelated, preordained war of expansionism. And even this directly related and universally understandable use of force against Islamic fascists is unacceptable to a great many people in Spain. In a conflict between the United States and the Taliban, they'd prefer their country to not take sides. That is deeply, deeply disturbing.
5) To take that point a step further, let's not forget that Spain was a staging ground for 9/11, and that one of the men arrested in connection with the Madrid attacks was himself a disciple of a man convicted for aiding and abetting the 9/11 hijackers. Islamic terror was a major Spanish problem long before Madrid. And Spain's voters have now told those terrorists "Hey, man, go about your business--we'd just as soon leave you alone." Again, take a look at a scene from the anti-government protests:
That's supposed to be a Guantanamo Bay detainee. Just a couple of days after the Gitmo detainees' fellow travelers slaughtered 200 commuters, the biggest outrage this fellow could think of was the incarceration of Taliban and al Qaeda in sunny Cuba. I say again that Spain sent a message not just to the terrorists yesterday, but to us as well, and the message to us was "fuck you--you deserved it."
(All these images come courtesy of LGF.)
6) Even ignoring all the immediate geopolitical ramifications of the Spanish election results, it's stupid for an entirely different reason: al Qaeda wants to reconquer Spain for the ummah. Tacitus has a link-rich post on this topic, which demonstrates a variety of things, including just how seriously al Qaeda takes the loss of the once-Muslim kingdom of Andalusia (Spain, of course), and just how fucking batshit insane al Qaeda's philosophy really is (as if you needed more evidence of that). The problem, of course, is that Spain's voters apparently recognize none of this.
I always think it's important to rank al Qaeda's one-world ambitions fairly low as a predictor for their actions. The organization is taking the long view, and I think that even in their most optimistic appraisals of their situation they know that a planet united under the Crescent is scores of years away. Right now their motive is primarily just to murder as many thousands of infidels as they can in an effort to punish those enemy regimes with a direct hand in the current Muslim world. But many people apparently feel that if those regimes (the U.S., India, Russia, Israel, Australia, the U.K., etc.) were to suddenly extricate themselves from the area, terrorist attacks against them would forever cease. Even a cursory glance at the theology behind Islamic fascist groups like al Qaeda (and for that matter Hamas, Hezbollah, al Aqsa et al) reveals that these groups will not stop until their grotesque brand of Islam rules the entire globe.
In essence, Spain is trying to pass the buck, hoping that a short-term refusal to engage the problems posed by Islamic facsist killers (who, I'd just like to point out, apparently feel a great deal of affinity with the deposed Baathist regime in Iraq, on whose behalf they just murdered 200 Spaniards) will result in a long-term reprieve from those killers. And this, of course, is bullshit.
The situation is different from that of Europe in the 1930s in its specifics--the countries who appeased fascism back then had only five or ten years to wait before the no-longer-satiated killers came gunning for them; these days those countries may perhaps have a good deal longer--but not in its fundamentals. Spain is trying to appease totalitarian murderers, who by their nature cannot and will not remain appeased forever. They're still holding grudges from the Middle Ages, for crying out loud. Those grudges will not die because some quisling Socialist prime minister stops aiding the reconstruction of Iraq.
7) Is there any reason to hope? Yes, some. Glenn Reynolds links to a pair of articles that suggest that, due to internal outrage and external pressure (primarily from Ireland, a nation with a long legacy of sorrow thanks to terrorist scum on both sides), Zapatero may well take a hard line against terrorism.
Paradoxically, I think that the Left, who until this point in the WoT have primarily served as fascism's respectable apologists and enablers, may actually have freer reign to attack terrorism than the Right does. Speaking mainly on unrelated points, Jim Henley recently pointed out that ostensibly left-liberal politicians and officials can get away with murder from their constituencies when they're actually in power. Take a look at Saint William of Hope, Arkansas, who in actuality was an enthusiastic drug warrior who eroded civil liberties and packed the prisons in the name of the War on Drugs, who relegated gays to second-class citizen status in matters of both marriage and the military, who used government muscle to assault free speech with things like the V-Chip, and whose own actions against terrorism relegate the Patriot Act and its ilk to mere icing-on-the-cake status. Of course, nowadays the American Left looks on the Clinton Years as the kind of Golden Age with the kind of grotesquely distorted nostalgia that would earn a knowing nod and a sad but wise smile from an al Qaeda fanatic pining for the days of al-Andalus.
Of course, waging a hardcore War on Terror from the Left would, unlike most of the aforementioned, be a good thing. I myself already view the WoT from a liberal standpoint, and see it as the liberal cause of our time. Left-liberal politicians could take advantage of their die-hard constituents' unshakeable belief that such politicians Know Best and really put the hurt on al Qaeda and their cohorts. I'm no longer one of those die-hards, but I remember the mindset well enough. If Bush cites "human rights" as a reason to invade a country, they say "Halliburton." If Zapatero were to cite "human rights" as a reason to invade a country, they'd say "of course--and how can you possibly oppose this, you fascist?" (There are some Leftists, of the International A.N.S.W.E.R. variety, who will oppose all military action by Western governments, forever and ever amen, and who in fact did so when left-liberal leaders went after the exterminationist regime of Slobodan Milosevic. But having a more mainstream left-liberal government in power will set up an opposite pole on that end of the political spectrum, and such pro-dictator "Leftists" will once again assume their well-deserved position of ignominious obscurity.)
The fact that left-liberal pols can generally count the members of the news media among their supporters will help, too. Take a trip down memory lane and recall the news coverage of Bill Clinton's military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan versus their coverage of Dubya's for example. The primary difference between the two, of course, was that Dubya's were actually successful, and yet Clinton comes off looking like George Marshall while Bush is painted like Robert McNamara. Go figure.
The thing is, though, that thus far Zapatero has shown no sign that his lip-service to getting tough on terrorism is anything but lip-service: His first major policy statement is that he'll pull his troops out of Iraq. (He leaves himself some wiggle room, invoking the mystical powers of the UN to wave its magic wand and grant those troops legitimacy that somehow they'd otherwise lack were it not for the approval of wise and good-hearted UN member states like Syria and Zimbabwe.) Now, you may believe, bless your naïve little heart, that Iraq has nothing to do with the War on Terror, but then let me be the first to point out to you that, apparently, al Qaeda would beg to differ. The Iraq-related "violence" that Zapatero is explicitly recoiling from is terrorist violence, both in Iraq itself (where attacks have now shifted from being against the military to against unarmed civilians) and in Madrid. Even if you believe the initial War in Iraq wasn't terror-related--just one of your average, run-of-the-mill mass-murdering belligerent expansionist fascist dictatorships with verses from the Koran on its flag that wasn't hurtin' nobody so we should have just left 'em 'lone, probably--it sure as shit is now. The terrorists know it. We know it. Spain's Left knows it--and has chosen to ignore it, to the world's peril.
8) Another reason for optimism? Well, it's a cynical sort of optimism, but optimism nonetheless: The Socialist victory in Spain may well demonstrate to the rest of the world exactly whose side the European Left is on. Hint: It's not ours. As long as the Left could maintain its posture of "we don't like terrorism, but we don't like the way the Americans are fighting it either," the contrast between the two extant Western societal strategies was muddy enough for onlookers to have a hard time choosing which one really was best for ensuring the preservation of free and liberal democratic society in the face of murderous fundamentalist fascism. Belmont Club posits that after a capitulation to terror this clear-cut, it will become very difficult for fence-straddlers to keep on straddling. I wouldn't underestimate people's capacity for self-delusion, but still, the alternatives just became a lot clearer. On the other hand, the lessons the average person draws from this event will depend in large part on the way the event is presented to them, and so far it appears that the American media is presenting it as "This is another fine mess Bush has gotten the world into." They aren't quite saying "Good on ya, Spain--the terrorists have your best interests at heart!", but they are saying "Poor Spain--if it weren't for the Cowboy, those people would still be alive today." The active role taken by the people who, y'know, actually built, planted, and detonated the bombs is elided from the equation. That makes the answer tough for the causal onlooker to deduce.
9) Perhaps the greatest cause for optimism that can be drawn out of the last week's terrible events stems from an analysis of al Qaeda's attack pattern as evidenced in the attacks themselves.
I've long been of the belief that, for al Qaeda, their short-term success on September 11th was an unmitigated long-term disaster. In the aftermath of Islamic terror's highwater mark, the organization was routed from its Afghan terrorist Disney World. Its client regime was ousted, and a constitutional democracy was set up in its place. Its potential other bases have been denied it, from the Pacific islands to the Central Asian mountains to the Arabian deserts to the African slums. Its leaders are either dead, captured, or on the run. Its foot soldiers have been rounded up by the hundreds and thousands. Its finances have been monitored, unraveled, and disrupted. Its ideology has been exposed to and excoriated by the entire Western world. Its fellow travelers in countries across the Middle East have been revealed as the murderous thugs that they are, and consequently ignored by Western policy makers. Its biggest enemy, the United States, has deposed the evil tyrannical government of a brother Muslim nation, one right in the heart of the oil-rich Arab world, and begun installing a constitutional democracy there, too. Its potential armament dealers, in that country and others, have been discovered and thwarted. Its attempts to foment civil and sectarian war across the Muslim world have failed. Its only real "victory" since the war began--the toppling of the Spanish government--may well come to be seen as another failure, since now their enemies have yet another theoretical "ally" (like France and Germany) whom they can safely ignore if that ally's interests conflict with their own pursuit of the terrorists.
So where has that left al Qaeda and co.? Beset, bewildered, and unable to strike anywhere but countries that are either Muslim themselves or containe enormous indigenous Muslim minority populations. Take a look at the list of major attack sites since 9/11: Afghanistan, Bali/Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Yemen, Kenya, the Philippines, Pakistan/Kashmir, Turkey, Iraq, Israel/Palestine, Russia/Chechnya. Until Madrid, and lone Islamist wackos like the El Al ticket-counter shooter and the Beltway Snipers notwithstanding, al Qaeda's ability to hit the West where it lives was nonexistent.
And look at the "success" of Madrid itself. Gone, it seems, are the days when al Qaeda could pull off simultaneous attacks against embassies, or fly passenger jets into four major political targets, or sink warships with a dinghyful of explosives. Instead they're sticking backpack bombs on unguarded passenger trains. I don't mean to minimize the horror of the Madrid attacks, or the power they had to force a major Western nation to its knees, or the very real threat they pose to innocent people worldwide should they be imitated--I just want to point out that, to an organization that views itself as the front-line assault team in the war against Satan, these soft-target, fish-in-a-barrel attacks are definite evidence of "settling." Already morbidly obsessed with being "humiliated," being reduced to attacking the Spanish equivalent of the Long Island Rail Road has got to be humiliating in and of itself. I'm reminded of the last words of Marv from Sin City: "Is that the best you can do, you pansies?" Needless to say, my fervent hope, and my tentative belief, is that the answer is "Yes."
And of course, that's already better than these barbaric fucks should ever be capable of pulling off, which is why they need to be defeated now, and forever. Belmont Club suggests that Spain's apparent forging of "a separate peace" with Islamist terror has just made al Qaeda's job of infiltrating Europe a lot easier, and he may well be right, but right now, for all the reasons listed above and in this much-linked-to Seattle Post-Intelligencer column, we're winning.
All in all, what has happened in Spain is a setback, and a huge one, for the free world, a setback that nudges uncomfortably close to a disaster. It tells al Qaeda that slaughtering civilians can engender favorable electoral results, thus increasingly tremendously the likelihood that similar attacks will be attempted in other democracies. And not just Western ones, mind you--you can bet that come election time, many hundreds and even thousands of Iraqis and Afghans will reap the whirlwind sown by Spain's voters yesterday. (Expect similar crimes to be committed against the mere suggestion of elections in Iran and Syria, too.) In leading to a pullout from Iraq, it weakens efforts to help the people that nation gain the freedom and stability they so profoundly deserve after decades of suffering. It marks a high point for European appeasement of fascism reminiscent of the continent's mollycoddling of Milosevic and his fellow butchers, to say nothing of the ultimate appeasement of 1938.
Yes, it is a disaster. I mean, what else can you call the collective embrace of a policy that views the course of action that led to this
as a "disaster," and sees this
as the horrifically executed advocacy of an idea that is, nevertheless, fundamentally sound, and worth voting for?
And yet there is hope. The stakes are now higher, but the lines are now drawn clearer than ever. And as we learn all the lessons Spain has taught us, I hope we can stand on our side of the line, more confident, more determined--and more free.
* That Britney Spears song "Toxic" that everybody likes really isn't very good. I feel vindicated. (Folks, if you want to hear good James Bond-style music that isn't actually from a James Bond movie, buy Portishead's records.)
* I also feel vindicated that the Strokes have released "Reptilia" as a single, seeing as how it's easily the best song from Room on Fire. And the video's actually quite good and interesting-looking.
* So is the video for Blink 182's "I Miss You," believe it or not. And the song is good, too! You half expect the bass player to appear with a shaven head and a long-sleeved black t-shirt reading "ZERO" on. And if they keep making this kind of music, the guy with the lousy voice could actually make his lousy voice work in the context of what they're doing, which is impressive. Even the de rigeur lesbians are creepy hairy French 1930s surrealist lesbians rather than porn stars with enema bottles or whatever. Well done, Blink 182--a worthy follow-up to that side-project song from a year or so back, which was also good.
* However, the fact that every single other band has a lead singer who sounds just like the lousy singer from Blink 182 is not good at all.
* What the hell is this Maroon 7 situation?
* Jim Shearer?
* Oh, hooray, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have the video for "Maps" in heavy rotation. Best song of last year, I think. And the video's pretty good too, if a little staid. It reminds me a little of the Doves' video for "Caught by the River," a song that should have been an enormous fucking hit in the States but wasn't, possibly because they looked bored while performing it. It's tough for Karen O to look bored, though, so there's hope.
* That blue-eyed soul remake of "Fell in Love with a Girl [Boy]" is way too easy.
* It's nice to see that after a year away, hip-hop videos still look and sound exactly the same. Good on you, hip hop!
Oh, cable. The Sopranos, Curb Your Enthusiasm, History Channel specials about barbarians, non-stop Law & Order reruns, and VH1 Classic. Delightful.
Yesterday we discussed the notion, insisted upon by various and sundry antiwar pundits, that the Spanish election didn't really have anything to do with a cowed electorate repudiating the fight against terrorism and turning toward appeasement. But dammit, if it keeps turning out that the Spaniards themselves failed to get that memo, as this Washington Post article suggests, we may have to revise that particular theory.
UPDATE: Oh, dear--did anyone get the memo? The bien pensants at the Guardian sure didn't. I mean, take a look at this editorial--saying that hunting down the Madrid terrorists probably wouldn't solve anything, repeating already-debunked claims of the fake-turkey variety about Bush's ad campaign, declaring that we must move past the simplistic notion that terrorists are bad guys, calling a national allegiance to its own constitution a partisan political ploy, calling for a dialogue in which the democracies of the West and the thugocracies of Islam are equal partners, and throwing in some truly gratuitous and breathtaking Jew-baiting moral equivalency to boot. (Link courtesy of Steven Den Beste.) People, people--you're off message!
No, you know what? The glib act can only get me so far. Disgusting fifth-column appeasement of the type the Guardian and its fellow travelers are now embracing--encouraged, wouldn't you know it, by those Spanish election results that are supposed not to mean what we hawks think they mean--needs to be called out directly. Appeasers, Jew-baiters, America-bashers, liars, fascism apologists, moral equivocators, quislings, I'm calling you out. I will not stand for Paz In Our Time.
Question: How will you be able to find Sean T. Collins at this year's San Diego Comic-Con?
Answer: He'll be the gentleman with a lovely lady wearing this on his arm.
First off, you may have missed it amid all the poliblogging, but I did a Comix and Match yesterday, too--you can find it here. The juicy part is a defense of Brian Bendis's franchise-character work against criticism I find arbitrary at best. Take a look.
Franklin Harris reports that manga publisher Gutsoon is placing all its titles on hiatus, while they try to figure out how to get a wider audience to purchase them. Well, that certainly seems to be a better strategy than, say, simultaneously launching six or eight series featuring second- and third-string characters and hoping that maybe like one or two of them are ordered in sufficient numbers to avoid being cancelled inside a year. But is this a sign that the manga skeptics were right, at least insofar as their claims that the sheer volume of titles coming out from Tokyopop and Viz were going to keep other manga books from finding a viable foothold? In other words, will those two companies be to the bookstores/Japanese comics what Marvel & DC are to the Direct Market/American comics? Stay tuned...
...or look to Newsarama, where there's an article on this very topic (link courtesy of Kevin Melrose). Reporter Matt Brady predicts "a manga bloodbath" in the coming year, wherein
lower sellers will drop out of stores entirely, as they won’t pay for their shelf space in the eyes of the bookstore market, middle sellers will sell less, while big titles will sell more.
So, basically, it's going to turn into your average Direct Market store, except with a focus on things that actually sell
as opposed to making sure that every single Superman or mutant title is represented because the owner read them when he was in junior high? Ha ha, I kid, I kid. Seriously, there are a great many problems potentially in the offing with manga, as the bookstore chains discover what the true extent and depth of the market for these books really are, but many Direct Market partisans are spinning sensible warnings like those at the heart of Brady's prognostications as "evidence" that manga and the bookstores are just going to do more harm than good to the American comics business and medium, which is, of course, nuts. The D.M. and its attendant industry really have nowhere to go but up, and while caution is not just admirable but necessary, they ignore manga and the lessons it teaches (about format, storytelling, variety, target audience, marketing, etc.) at their peril.
Tim O'Neil kicks of his daily links roundup by disagreeing with my assertion that he was giving gossip columnists Naso & Johnston "the business." Pardon me, good sirs and madams: He was merely giving them what-for, eh what? Anyway, Tim then goes through a fairly lengthy examination of why he blogs the way he blogs--what he hopes to accomplish with his post-Journalista linkblogging, why he's decided not to go the half-comics/half-politics route pursued by several of us semi-comics bloggers, and so forth. If you like peeking behind the curtain of a smart writer's process, this post is for you.
Alan David Doane's latest five questions are for Colleen Coover, purveyor of spunky (no, not in that way) girl-girl smut comics. I like Colleen's attitude, particularly in her insistence on having her characters actually look like they're enjoying themselves while they get it on. It runs very close to my heart, since in my years working for Abercrombie & Fitch I was proud that our models always looked like they were having a blast, not like they were on the nod or dead or whatever else is passing for edgy in the incredibly vapid and fucked-up world of fashion these days. However, maybe this is just the second-wave feminist in me coming out, but did you find this quote from the interview a little troubling, too?:
Now, the whole premise of Small Favors is what has become almost a mantra for me: Pretty Girls Make People Happy! And really, it’s just TRUE, you know? I’m not talking about sex, here. If you’re walking down the street and see a really pretty girl with a zillion-watt smile, it just makes you feel good! You don’t have to be consumed with lust to appreciate that.
Now, of course that's true
--on a strictly biological level, it's nice to look at girls (and guys!) who are nice to look at. But Colleen's advancing this as an explanation for why girl-on-girl action is so popular, and that's why it bothers me a bit: It's extremely easy to see this as a justification for objectification. Particularly in a day and age when the brain trust behind MTV is pushing faux lesbianism on an ever-younger audience in an effort to titilate frat boys with their baseball caps on backwards, saying "pretty girls good, two pretty girls even better!" can have some troubling ramifications in terms of getting women's sexuality treated as an end in itself, as opposed to simply a way to turn guys on. On the other hand, Coover goes out of her way to explain that her comics are not
created with the male gaze in mind, so let's be sure to take in the whole context, shall we? Anyway, read the interview, which is good as always.
Finally, I won! NeilAlien posts his favorite entries in his recent call for comics-related collective nouns, and one of my submissions--a hand of Steve Ditko fans--has medalled. Hey, alright! Look for more funnybookcentric collective nouns from Vaneta Rogers. And what the heck--here's my entire list of submissions to Neil's contest:
A hand of Ditko fans
A foreshortening of Kirby fans
(alternate: A crackle of Kirby fans)
An alliteration of Stan Lee fans
A marlo of Peter David fans
A bitch of John Byrne fans
(alternate: A retcon of John Byrne fans)
An eightball of Dan Clowes fans
A so of Chris Ware fans
A meatball of Mark Millar fans
An underbelly of Warren Ellis fans
A blam of Frank Miller fans
A beard of Alan Moore fans
A reality of Grant Morrison fans
An arse of Garth Ennis fans
A stutter of Brian Bendis fans
A bash of Dave Sim fans
A rump of Robert Crumb fans
Alright, now--I expect to see lists from a deppey of comicsbloggers in the days to come!
Scenes from the theoretical victims of what Franklin Harris insists on referring to as "Bush's failed war" and what Spanish Prime Minister-elect Zapatero refers to as "a disaster" (courtesy of ABC News):
A year after the bombs began to fall, Iraqis express ambivalence about the U.S.-led invasion of their country, but not about its effect: Most say their lives are going well and have improved since before the war, and expectations for the future are very high.
Worries exist — locally about joblessness, nationally about security — boosting desires for a "single strong leader," at least in the short term. Yet the first media-sponsored national public opinion poll in Iraq also finds a strikingly optimistic people, expressing growing interest in politics, broad rejection of political violence, rising trust in the Iraqi police and army and preference for an inclusive and democratic government.
Disaster! Error! Quagmire! Well, I suppose it is
all these things--for the "other people's suffering is not my problem" school of antiwar libertarianism.
Please do check out the entire ABC poll. Chock full of interesting information, some negative, mostly positive (all of which, I'm sure, will be parsed by number-cruncher Jim Henley before the day is out).
I've gone on and on about what I think of Spain's response to the 200-odd murders that occurred on its trains the other day. So why don't I point you to what I feel is a more appropriate response:
In the face of this kind of subhuman nihilism, people know without having to be told that the only response is a quiet, steady hatred and contempt, and a cold determination to outlast the perpetrators while remorselessly tracking them down.
, though as you can tell by parsing his syntax he's talking about how Spain, and the world, have reacted to ETA and their ilk. He'd like to extend this sensibility to Islamist terrorism.
Of course, other people feel quite strongly that though their methods are abhorrent, their goals are basically sensible, and it's best for us just to do what they want, since if do that they'll just give up and leave us alone.
Take your pick, ladies and gentlemen.
Larry Young is the co-founder and head honcho of AiT/PlanetLar, the independent comics publisher that is currently celebrating its five-year anniversary. Known for publishing the comics of such creators as Brian Wood & Tom Beland, as well as the prose writings of Warren Ellis, Young has parlayed a strong Internet presence and innate marketing savvy into a growing spot in the public eye for his company. He got behind the trade paperback/graphic novel format early, putting his creators in a prime position to take advantage of the rise in sales of those formats both within the direct market and in the larger bookstore world.
Never one to shy away from making his opinion known, Young has made statements in Brian Wood's Delphi Forum and on his own blog that have made him something of a bete noire among comics bloggers of late. So I was both surprised and pleased when, in response to my post on this topic, Larry offered to answer any ten questions I cared to ask him, for publication on this very blog. I happily took up this generous offer, and as you'll see, the results were both informative and candid. You'll also see that I probably cheated a little bit on the whole "ten questions" thing.
Interviewed by Sean T. Collins
17 March 2004
Sean T. Collins: So, how did you "develop such a hard-on for bloggers?" Were there specific comics bloggers who said something you found upsetting or misleading? If so, who were they? Or do you think that, your own blog aside, the publishing mechanism itself is inherently problematic?
Larry Young: Well, I just don't see myself as "having a hard-on" for bloggers, in the first place. I just think the comics blogs I have seen are pretty self-indulgent affairs, is all. Someone will send me a link with a note pointing out something they think I'll be interested in, and I have to wade through laments about the cancellation of Angel and political screeds about terrorism and lamb stew recipes and whatnot to find a two-line mention of Demo #3.
I mean, I get enough of that sort of thing from my pals in the real world; I don't need to read about it online, too. :)
Your blog is mostly an AiT/PL news and update source. Could you ever see yourself offering comics commentary and criticism as well?
No, because that's not what it's for. It's just a way for me to update the home page with company-related news without having to learn html. I'm not sure I could get away with it, now, anyway. When I did my 52 issue fanzine, Planet Lar, I did four or five short reviews a week for a year. People liked 'em, for the most part, because I was a guy riding mass transit on his way to work and writing about the comics he'd just read. If I reviewed something now, people wouldn't look at it like a guy just telling you his likes and dislikes; they'd think The King Of Independent Comics was being "combative" and taking a dump on their hard work.
Conventional wisdom has it that your online persona is combative; some have said unnecessarily or even detrimentally so.
People see what they want to see.
Is this persona deliberate on your part, or do you think this assessment of your Internet presence is inaccurate? If you have adopted this persona consciously, how does it differ from the way you are in real life?
Here's the thing about that; I don't have a "persona," I have a certain amount of skill in writing. Those reading my writing have a certain level of skill in comprehension. It's possible there might not be a lot of overlap, there. While I may feel I'm writing clearly and without room for interpretation, a reader might not understand whatever point I'm making, or, even, may not agree with it. If I respond, I'm just being "combative"? Not from my point of view.
Neal Stephenson has a great line about this in Cryptonomicon: "Arguing with anonymous strangers on the Internet is a sucker's game because they almost always turn out to be -- or to be indistinguishable from -- self-righteous sixteen year olds possessing infinite amounts of free time."
I haven't been following the debate as closely as some, but perhaps this is a good time to set the record straight on Wood & Cloonan's Demo. Are there now or have there ever been plans to release this series as a collected-edition trade paperback upon its conclusion?
Man, this is like a Perry Mason question. No, counsellor, there are not now or have ever been plans to release this series as a collected-edition trade paperback upon its conclusion.
You've said in the past that the book will not be collected--how unequivocal is that?
I don't believe I've said we WILL NOT collect it; I may have been exasperated with a loon or two and written that we may as well come out and say that. But that's a business reality, and business realities change all the time, and successful companies adapt to those changes.
AiT/PL is a company known for its belief in and success with the trade paperback/graphic novel format; why was this particular title selected to be given the "hard sell" on behalf of its individual, pamphlet-sized installments?
I don't think it's been given a "hard sell." People have written they're waiting for the trade, I tell them if they don't buy it now, there might not be a trade. That's just an economic reality imposed on us by the nature of how this project is set up. The poster-stock covers, the cover-weight interiors, the self-contained stories; everything about Demo screams "$2.95 mini graphic novel." If some observers of the scene think we're violating what they think our company is known for, good! That's how businesses grow, but stepping outside of expectations.
How has this mini-brouhaha affected sales, and for that matter critical & audience reception of the work itself?
There's no effect that I can see. The work is the work. Critical and audience reception of a project doesn't (or shouldn't, at least) be impacted by what a few vocal cats without all the info say on a message board.
AiT/PL has now hit the five-year mark, and the company has an increasingly high profile. To what do you attribute your success thus far? How do you plan to maintain or increase your appeal to comics buyers?
Slow and steady wins the race. We keep putting out the good comics, and people will keep buying 'em.
What book/s are you most proud of having published? On the flip side, what book/s do you see as having been a misfire, or something that you and/or the creators could have handled better?
This is like asking a parent which offspring they love more. I love all our books, for different reasons.
From fans to retailers to creators to publishers to critics, ours is an industry that seems intently focus on spreading the word about comics to the outside world. What brand of "comics activism," for want of a better term, have you found most successful? How do you think the industry in general, or your own company in particular, can improve upon its existing outreach efforts?
Nothing beats hand-selling. In a well-stocked shop, I could sell anyone a book that they would enjoy, just by talking to them for a couple minutes. If somebody told me one of their favorite movies, the last place they went on vacation and what they had for breakfast, I could put a comic in their hand that they liked, just because I'm enthusiastic about the form and I can extrapolate all sorts of stuff about folks from those three questions and their body language. It's kind of a monkey trick I learned from my orthodontist when I was a kid, actually.
How do you see AiT/PL functioning in relation to the other indie comics companies--what role does it play, what niche does it fill, what reader needs does it service? Are you satisfied with where you stand in the industry?
I'll tell you what I tell everyone who asks me this question: we're publishers, just like Marvel and DC and whoever. The $12.95 it takes to buy The Invisibles: Bloody Hell in America from your local comics retailer is the same $12.95 it'll cost to buy yourself a copy of Last of the Independents.
What one thing does comics need more of? And what one thing does comics need less of?
The one thing comics needs more of: TREES. The one thing comics needs less of: average comics.
Finally, if there are any current or upcoming projects you'd like to plug, please plug away!
Well, I'm personally excited about the upcoming Planet of the Capes, just because it's been a long gestation period for the project. I'm looking forward to Ursula, our first translated-from-the-Brazillian-Portugese graphic novel, and of course Hench and Bad Mojo. I can't wait for WonderCon in San Francisco, too. Nothing better than going to a major comic book convention and being able to sleep in your own bed at night, too.
For more on Larry and his company on their fifth anniversary, check out Newsarama's big piece on the subject. Thank you once again to Larry Young for suggesting the interview, and congratulations to him on five years of AiT/PlanetLar!
Another month, another tedious kerfuffle about whether or not superhero stories are inherently bad/childish/stupid. I gotta tell you, for all that superhero-bashers decry the genre's tendency to lapse into rote, repetitive predictability--well, I guess you can see where I'm going with this.
The lastest debate centers around Christopher Butcher, who (as I discussed the other day) is really pissed off that writers like Brian Bendis have eschewed ostensibly more personal work to play in the big spandex sandbox. As backup, he links to a Millarworld messboard post approvingly cited by Graeme McMillan. The post argues that superheroes are inherently non-adult, that any attempts to create some sort of "adult take on superheroes" are doomed to failure, that the books heralded as the "adult takes on superheroes" (The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen) are in fact about "about the impossibility of treating these iconic characters as "adult" and having them continue to behave in the way we have come to expect," etc. The poster seems to find the the Big Two's big guns the most offensive in this regard:
the mainstream characters - the archetypes and the bit-part players that surround them - simply cannot be written as adult characters with out appearing utterly ridiculous to all concerned.
In this way his prejudices dovetail neatly with Chris Butcher's, who's drawn that same distinction between corporate superheroes and creator-owned ones.
Can anyone tell me why? Seriously, I want to know. Of course the odds are against you if you want to do some serious life-changing work in a flagship title--it takes someone with the talent and clout of Frank Miller or Brian Bendis or Grant Morrison to convince the suits that allowing them to really fuck around with some of the company's toys might make the remaining toys work better. But it can be done, and it is done, all the time. Again, what is this mystery difference in quality between Powers and Bendis's Marvel work, or The Filth and New X-Men, that folks like Chris & Tim O'Neil treat like an article of faith? Creator-owned superpeople are better because they're creator owned. QED. If there's more to it than that, I'd love to have it explained to me.
Steven Berg is all over this particular beat, offering a hilarious takedown of Chris's assertions. How, he asks, is what Bendis is doing with Daredevil or Morrison doing with Cyclops any different than what Moore is doing with Mina freaking Harker? Taking it a bit further, how is it different from Street Angel or Powers or Hellboy or The Filth or any of the other creator-owned superhero concepts that Chris, Tim and others fawn all over? The answer: It isn't, and moreover I would submit that only people immersed in fanboy culture, who subsequently want to differentiate themselves from fanboy culture, would suggest that there's any difference at all. I think we'll all admit that people working in the corporate-trademark field have an uphill battle ahead of them, in terms of dealing with a bureaucracy that wants to preserve the illusion of change without dealing with the actual ramifications of change, that people working on their own characters don't face--but good work is good work, plain and simple. Your individual mileage may vary, but it seems safe to say that people like Brian Bendis have successfully waged that battle. Why in God's name would the fact that someone else owns the trademark make the story any less good?
What makes this particular iteration of the superhero debate so weird is the inconsistency of the opposing position. In one breath (in many, actually), Chris will go out of his way to lambaste corporate superheroes and superheroes generally; in the next he'll go apeshit for a superhero comic, and even a corporate superhero comic, Darwyn Cooke's New Frontier! The flip-flopping is egregious, and in my opinion can only be explained by the desire to gratuitously differentiate oneself from fanboys, and, perhaps, a fairly straightforward hard-on for Marvel.
(And what is it about The New Frontier that drives otherwise sensible reviewers into flights of rhetorical ecstasy? Listen, the art is obviously gorgeous, and two issues in may be too early to draw a conclusion, but so far this just seems like unreconstructed Marvels-style icon worship at its most cloyingly nostalgic, with the added "bonus" of incorporating the impenetrable continuity wonking of (the otherwise superior Alex Ross book of note) Kingdom Come. Honestly, folks, I am a huge freaking geek, and I don't know who half these goddamn characters are. The fact that the book is drawn by the inheritor of the Bruce Timm mantle can really only get you so far.)
David Fiore, as you might expect, has more reasons why this latest anti-superhero argument is missing the formally inventive, narratively compelling, philosophically fascinating superhero forest for the "people don't wear funny costumes" trees. Read his piece, read Steven's, mentally tag on a "'Nuff said," and I think this round is over.
All yesterday afternoon and evening I watched reports on all the networks and cable news stations about the horrific car bombing in Baghdad, all of which had headlines screaming "dozens dead," most of which seemed to be drawing on the implicit "look what we've done!" causal through-line from the Madrid massacre.
Today, I just got finished watching a briefing from the coalition in Baghdad, announcing that the death toll has gone from being proclaimed as "dozens" to being calculated at "17."
Do you think the difference in the death toll will become a story? Do you think if the death toll had been revised to be higher, that would be a story?
I'm just asking.
Andrew Sullivan has the goods on the shameful full-court press currently underway against even the most fundamental guarantees of equal rights for gay Americans--not just marriage, mind you, but civil unions, domestic partnership benefits, workplace discrimination protection, sodomy laws, even in one case the right to live in a given county. It's insane, and it's orchestrated and egged on by those compassionate, small-government conservatives we've heard so much about in the Bush Administration.
I sure do want John Kerry to lose the election, but if you truly do care about the liberal values we're fighting and dying for every day overseas, it's tough to want George Bush to win it.
Via Dave Fiore I've discovered the delightful blog of one Marc Singer--and what to my wondering eyes should appear but a long and in-depth post tearing yours truly's Spain theories into tiny little pieces. And he's really, really good at it, too! Oh, man...
It seems like Marc and I have drawn very different conclusions about terrorism and the war thereon, and I very much doubt that our considerable rhetorical skills (well, his, at least) will manage to convince the other to abandon his position. I think you know where I stand, dear readers, and I think that if you read Marc's post it'll be clear where he stands, too. You can draw your own conclusions from there. So I'm going to avoid getting into the meat of the issue.
But I would like to defend myself on a few, mostly technical kinda points on which I think Marc has misjudged or mischaracterized me. (Not maliciously or anything, but hey, it happens.)
* Marc says
But Collins' posts aren’t really incensed over the attacks so much as the Spanish people’s subsequent rejection of President Jose Maria Aznar and his Popular Party.
I feel pretty bad that that's how it's come across. Regardless of how you feel about my views on politics, I want you to rest assured that attacks like the ones in Madrid are extremely, extremely upsetting to me, on an intimate and immediate level. I don't know how much clearer I can be on this--I thought I was pretty clear already
--but it bears repeating. It's the deaths that upset me, and the reason I got so upset about the election results was simply because I think those results make more deaths more likely. I promise
you that's what's going on behind my anger over the ouster of Aznar's government, not some partisan allegiance to the Popular Party. (Nor is it out of some malicious attempt to "rewrite reality." My argumentation may not always be so strong, but I promise you any distortions aren't deliberate--my heart and mind are way too clear on all this for me to do something like that, even if I wanted to. I wish people wouldn't question my fundamental decency when they disagree with my politics, but that's the way of these things, and I'm far from innocent on that score myself, alas, as Marc quite rightly points out.)
* Marc accurately points out that there were all sorts of reasons that the Spaniards voted the way they did, from preexisting anti-war sentiment to a belief that the PP played politics with the bombing investigation. I don't dispute that. I do think, and I've seen many specific quotes and pictures to back this up, that many Spaniards (including PM-elect Zapatero) disagree passionately with the War on Terror as it currently stands, not just in its Iraq iteration, but in Afghanistan, and on an overall philosophical and strategic level. Many of them (again, including Zapatero) have made statements indicating their belief that their nation's involvement in the War on Terror (again, not just in Iraq) is to blame for the attacks, and that they are reversing course to avoid incurring more attacks. Moreover, the Popular Party was headed toward retaining power before the bombs; after the bombs, they lost in a landslide. Putting all this together, I came up with "appeasement"--an effort to concede to ones' enemies in order to avoid conflict with them.
I probably should have gone further out of my way to differentiate between the Spaniards themselves--who were traumatized and grieving and for the most part just trying to make sense out of the chaos with their ballots--from the (I feel) lamentable results of their voting. As much as I think this election is and will continue to be disastrous for the civilized world, I don't feel any particular animus toward the Spaniards themselves.
* Regarding the Guardian's editorial: I found it loathsome for any number of reasons, including its inability to refer to mass murderers as "bad guys," its insistence that the democracies of the West and the theocracies and dictatorships of Islam ought to be on anywhere near a level playing field dialogue-wise, and (here's the "Jew-baiting" part) its insinuation that Israeli soldiers are callously and indifferently mowing down Palestinian children. To me, that's just a bit too close to the blood libel for comfort, and at any rate even a casual observer of that particular crisis should be able to judge which side is truly behaving callously and indifferently toward the children of Palestine.
* Marc makes a great deal of hay out of exploring the linguistic origins of terms I used, such as "fellow travelers" and "fifth columnists." (Isn't that just like an English professor?) Lucky me, he pretty much ignores the even harsher terms I used, like "quislings"; I probably shouldn't ought to have used any of them. I got angry and carried away, and my writing suffered--no surprise there. But this enabled Marc to do battle with a number of straw men--"Collins said 'fellow traveler', which means thinks anyone who doesn't support Bush is a Communist! Or a fascist, since he also said 'fifth columnist,' and the original fifth column was the Falange!" Seriously, man, c'mon. Those terms have expanded beyond their historical context to refer to much more generalized situations--fellow traveler being a perjorative term for someone who shares a particular idea, fifth columnist being anyone working in a given country to aid that country's enemies. Was it a great idea for me to use those terms? No. But I didn't mean to use them to literally refer to the bad guys who gave rise to the terms, any more than, when John Kerry refers to "Benedict Arnold corporations," he means they're secretly supporting the Redcoats in their occupation of the 13 colonies.
* Apparently, in an effort to shore up my arguments, I quoted an article that wuoted someone who works at a think-tank that was founded by someone who is the son of someone who was a Franco underling. If that somehow weakens my point, well, tough titties for me, I guess.
* Marc also seems to think that doing a little right-wing-baiting (pointing out that Neville Chamberlain was a (capital-C) Conservative and a scion of privilege not unlike George W. Bush) is a valid way to score a point or two against me. Marc, I assure you, I'm not conservative, I am not a right-winger, and I am not an unquestioning Dubya dittohead. Take a gander--that dog won't hunt, Prof. (And who said the academy was slanted leftwards? Oh, c'mon now. I kid because I love.)
I think that about covers it. Man, these mano a mano back-and-forths are exhausting--I'm not sure if I've got any left in me. But I've discovered a great new blog, so it's worth it.
Take it easy, man! It was nothin' personal!
In all seriousness, the above-linked pieces are Chris Butcher's responses to the somewhat, uh, spirited defense of superheroes offered up by me and Steven Berg yesterday. Right off the bat I want to apologize to Chris for getting personal--he seems pretty upset about some of the things that I said about him, and while I didn't intend to or even think that I did get personal, clearly that was my bad. I don't think Chris is an idiot, or that "he's wrong because I say so," or that he's a poseur trying to sound smart, or that he's an asshole whose philosophy prevents him from ever taking a clear look at a book, or that my post was so great that all discussion about the topic must now end, or anything like that; nor was I mad at him, even a little bit. Can I see how it would seem that I do think those things, and that I was mad at him personally? Oh, absolutely. That's my fault for being a lousy writer (couldn't resist "'Nuff said," could you, Collins?--ed)--not Chris's fault for having a position I disagree with. Again, I'm sorry.
I do disagree with a lof of what he says about superhero comics, though. Still do, actually, despite his long and impassioned explanation of how he came to his current conclusions about the relative merit of the spandex set, corporate or no.
For example, I don't think it was clear that, when he said Powers will be remembered ten years from now and Bendis's Marvel work will not, he was talking about things like whether or not the books will still be in print, or how many collections will be available, or whether previous creators' runs on those characters will be remembered foremost--it seemed to me he was talking about the quality of Bendis's actual work on the titles, pure and simple.
I also don't think that the fact that Bendis's Marvel character Jessica Jones swears in one book and doesn't swear in other books affects the quality of any of those books at all--certainly not to the point where the "integrity" of Bendis's work at Marvel is threatened by the company's diktats as to whether and when she can say "fuck."
I also think superhero comics are a lot more amenable to "realism" than Chris does--this is something I've gone on at length about before--though I certainly agree that this approach can be done badly very easily indeed, and should be handled with care. (I've talked about that before, too.) But the fact that corporate comics try and fail to go this route so routinely doesn't influence me when I read books that succeed, or books that try something else entirely.
On a specific note, I don't know whether or not New X-Men is, in fact, just "a book for smart 14-year-olds," but this particular 25-year-old of what I guess I can say is reasonable intelligence thinks it's one of the best comics he's ever read, for whatever that's worth.
I understand that Bendis has complete control over Powers and varying degrees of "much less so" over his Marvel books, but my reading of them doesn't see this as being responsible for a drop-off in quality or integrity of the work. Long story short, if a particular comic is good, I don't think much about where it comes from, certainly not to the point where I talk a lot about how corporate comics are "the most egregious offenders" about this or that, as Chris does. It's a very different outlook than the one I have. I've seen Chris employ this outlook in talking about corporate superhero comics--that's where I (and I'm assuming Steve Berg and others) were coming from when we said that Chris draws a qualitative distinction between corporate superheroes and creator-owned superheroes that I/we feel is an arbitrary one that isn't related to the text itself.
And while I fully agree that the odds are stacked against a creator when he toils in the trademark mines in terms of digging up something worthwhile and meaningful, it does happen, quite often, regardless of whether or not characters can curse or disemobwel each other or rape monkeys or murder the Pope in the process. When a book is good, it doesn't make sense to me to hold its origin against it; nor, when I initially evaluate a book, is its origin something I give much consideration to (unless, of course, something's in there that just screams "corporate watering-down!". A book like Daredevil is so compelling that the fact that the characters can’t cuss just doesn't scream that to me, any more than the fact that the characters on Seinfeld couldn't swear but the characters on Curb Your Enthusiasm can would do so.)
So mainly Chris and I disagree about the quality of certain Brian Bendis comics, is what I'm saying. :)
All that being said, I do think Chris has taken this all a little far. No one was telling him he's not allowed to think these things, or say "fuck Marvel," or anything remotely like that, and I'm not sure where he got that from. No one was really attacking him personally, either--attacking his ideas about supercomics, sure, and probably in a way that was open to interpretation due to my weak rhetoric, but not attacking him as a person at all. And I think Chris's response to Steven Berg was particularly uncalled for. But from what Chris says about its genesis, it seems he was egged on by colleagues who emailed him with "let's you and him fight" scenarios dancing in their heads, which suggests they've kind of missed the point about blogging, at least insofar as this particular discussion goes.
What I like about blogs is that, in my experience, people can go to the mattresses over issues without taking things to heart, flaming each other, or getting into personalized donnybrooks a la more problematic discussion fora like message boards and listservs. I mean, I disagree extremely strenuously with some semi-comics bloggers about stuff that's actually important--not whether or not Powers is better than Ultimate Spider-Man, for example, but whether current policies are sending the world to Hell in a handbasket--and yet I still think they're intelligent and fundamentally good people with fascinating and entertaining blogs, and I read both their comics posts and political/cultural posts religiously. It never occurred to me to think that they dislike me personally for our disagreements, and I certainly don't dislike them. Chris is a terrific blogger and columnist, and though I barely know him from Adam my guess is he's a pretty swell guy as well. "Talking shit about" him, as Chris's interlocutors thought was going on, never ever entered my thought process--if you're even a halfway decent commentator/critic/blogger/what have you, it never should.
I may disagree with Chris about some specific comics-related issues, but I'm glad he's part of the debate, because I think it's a debate worth having. (Alright, maybe not as frequently as we've been having it (I kid!), but it is worth having.) And Chris is eminently worth listening to when we're having it. (Okay, go ahead and say it--ed. Alright!) 'Nuff said!
(And if you don't think 'nuff has in fact been said, you can check out some sensible responses from Steve Berg, Tim O'Neil, Dave Fiore (reasonable except for positing that The Maltese Falcon is a better film than Citizen Kane, of course!) and Steve Berg again.)
Reports suggest that the cast of Robert Rodriguez's film adaptation of Frank Miller's Sin City includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Bruce Willis, Elijah Wood, Mickey Rourke, Brittany Murphy, Kate Bosworth and Jaime King.
Long-time ADDTF readers may remember that back in the early days of this blog, I spent a lot of time talking about the importance of well-designed, uniform trade dress to the trade paperback/graphic novel/manga market. (Seriously--do a search for "trade dress" and you'll find I spent the entire Spring and Summer of 2003 talking about it.) My thesis was that manga had a huge advantage over American comic collections not just because they were sized closer to regular prose books, but because you could actually enjoy looking at and have an easy time reading the spines when they're lined up on a shelf.
Sadly, things have not improved much since back then. Dark Horse recently reprinted all the Hellboy collections in order to capitalize on the Hellboy movie--but they still haven't numbered the books in the series! (Argh--this is maybe the most difficult series around in terms of figuring out which book comes when. Help us, DH!) (UPDATE: Augie de Blieck writes to say that they do, in fact, have numbers. Man, I'm glad to be wrong about that.) DC doesn't number the collections of its big icon series; on some of those series they do number, the number is so small they may as well not have bothered. Marvel continues to shoehorn both classic old runs and pointless new miniseries into its "Legends" line, producing confusion, lousy sales, and bizarre circumstances such as the fact that the recent Spider-Man/Wolverine miniseries is in print as a trade paperback and the seminal Kraven's Last Hunt is not. And Image's yellow logo on the spines of each of its trade paperbacks is as ugly as sin would be if sin had botched cosmetic surgery.
So thank you, thank you, thank you to Brian Hibbs, whose latest column is all about How to Dress Your Trade Paperbacks. He tackles the issue from a number of fascinating and important perspectives, both general and specific: from discussing how the look of a trade impacts sales to dissecting exactly what constitutes good design to pointing out flaws in different companies' programs to raising questions about the role trade paperbacks may be playing in mid-list titles reaching their breaking point to whether indie companies are shooting themselves in the foot by completely eschewing pamphlets.
Please, go and read it. These are issues that every comics company should be thinking about very carefully.
I couldn't resist. (And I'm not the only one.)
Dawn, by the way, is excellent, a worthy successor to both the original and to the other recent fast-moving zombie flick of note, 28 Days Later. In many ways it's better than 28--the apocalyptic scenario it constructs is far more logically consistent, for example. Actually, in some ways it's better than the original Dawn, too--it's able to draw thematic elements from all three of the original Dead movies, for starters. It's well-acted, intelligently and gorgeously shot and directed, gory, and frightening, with the original's commentary on consumerism supplanted not by dumb Hollywood action-flickisms but by a more universal and potentially more chilling exploration of civilization, community building, and entropy. And the opening sequence is absolutely flawless, maybe the most relentlessly harsh and frightening first ten minutes of a film since Saving Private Ryan.
This was a remake that was worth the re-making. Fence-sitters turned off by one soulless and slick horror-classic redo too many, do yourself a favor and don't pass this one up.
PS: I'm really entertained by how so many critics who didn't like the new version are talking about how it supposedly lacked the deft satirical touch displayed by auteur George Romero in the original, a parable about consumerism. Folks, he took zombies and put them in a shopping mall--a little un-subtle, no? Don't get me wrong--it's still a wonderful, intelligent, maverick film--but we're not talking Tartuffe here. For my money the unspoken racial subtext of Night of the Living Dead, Romero's first zombie film, make that one the gold standard for socially relevant horror filmmaking.
PPS: Also, does anyone fact-check Elvis Mitchell these days? I remember being taken aback by how he misquoted Gandalf's key line to Pippin ("just a false hope" instead of the better-sounding and more complex "just a fool's hope") from The Return of the King in his review of that film; in his review of the new Dawn he mischaracterizes the relationship between Sarah Polley's character and the zombie girl who attacks her husband (she's the girl's neighbor, not her mother) and erroneously claims that the original Night didn't explain the origin of the zombie plague (it doesn't come right out and say it, but it is strongly implied on several occasions that radiation found to have contaminated a returned Venus probe may be the cause). I'm glad he's a Frank Miller fan and all, but someone should really pay attention to this stuff.
Lord of the Rings fans who were disappointed that Saruman's death scene was cut from the theatrical release of The Return of the King may appreciate the news that the spiritual leader of Hamas, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, has been killed by Israel. Yassin is the White Wizard's spitting image, though Saruman was probably a better person overall.
This man was truly one of the worst people on Earth. May he and his goals be forever forgotten, and may the only death that results from his passing be that of his poison ideology.
ZZ Top, Bob Seger, and Jackson Browne are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Black Sabbath is not.
What. The. FUCK.
Robert Rodriguez will be "co-directing" Sin City with Frank Miller and Quentin Tarantino.
(BTW, this shores up my theory that Miller was a big influence on Tarantino's Kill Bill. But mainly, HOLY SHIT.)
Blogging's been light around here lately because I've been busy with my new gig, namely being a supervisor in the music and movie departments of a local bookstore. Did I ask about how their graphic novels are selling? You bet I did. And apparently they're selling like hotcakes. Supposedly they move a lot more than they even have room for on the floor. And who's buying them? Kids. And which ones are they buying? I'll give you three guesses. Ladies and gentlemen, can we please agree to retire the "kids don't buy comics" meme once and for all?
Anyway, I haven't had much time to surf, but I've noticed several big pieces that address some big issues.
First up is Steven Grant, who offers an overview of the problems faced by DC and Marvel in the current comics market and press. I think it's clear to most of us who follow these things that the New Marvel Magic has pretty much worn off--what do they do now? DC, meanwhile, is gaining a little critical and audience traction, but are they showing any signs of being able to capitalize on this? Check out what Steven has to say about it, and who knows? You may see a little guest analysis yours truly...
Jim Henley, meanwhile, has honed his thoughts on the superhero genre into an essay, defending the spandex set as "the literature of ethics"--if it's done right, naturally. Tim O'Neil, who much to his amusement has unwittingly become something of an archvillain to we pro-superhero types, offers an agreement-slash-rebuttal that strikes me as the most reasonable thing he's yet said on the subject. Read 'em both.
And read the comment thread on Jim's essay, too; I particularly like Sean Gleeson's questions: "What's so bad about being a male child's fantasy? Is it because there's something wrong with being or having been a male child?" Of course, he later commits the ultimate sin of referring to books that "transcend the genre." Listen, folks: If a given work is of a particular genre, and it's really good, it hasn't transcended the genre--it epitomizes the genre. It shows you what the genre is capable of. To say it transcends the genre is to write the potential for greatness out of that genre by definition!
And read Bill Sherman's take on Jim's essay, as seen through the prism of Kurt Busiek's Superman-related minseries Secret Identity. It serves as a thoughtful exploration-slash-critique of Jim's take on superhero politics.
(I'll offer a critique of my own--Jim, my good man, where are these neoconservative superheroes you've seen? From where I'm sitting, all the big writers (except Morrison, who's got less irritating fish to fry) have been spending the last few years tearing neocon foreign policy to shreds with their superhero yarns. President Luthor, anybody? The attack on "Qurac"? Geoff Johns's Avengers arc? Mark Millar's work on The Ultimates and Superman: Red Son? Brian Bendis actually destroying most of the Middle East in Powers? Point is, while I (a liberal, for the most part, in case you'd forgotten) personally may agree with Jim's contention that acting like a neocon in the foreign-policy arena is a natural outgrowth of left-liberal politics, most left-liberals don't agree, and if you need more evidence than the past two and a half years' worth of actual behavior from left-liberals, you can look at the superhero comics they've been writing, too.)
Franklin Harris serves up something in the same vein as Jim--a defense of superheroes, this one focused on the folks saying that the genre is the reason for comics' financial woes. I mostly agree, but I think Franklin is wrong about superhero comics squeezing out non-superhero comics from comics shops. He says they don't, and I guess in a sense he's right, since most shops don't stock non-superhero comics at all. They're not just squeezing them out--they (or more accurately the developmentally retarded fanboys who run most comic shops) are keeping them from ever getting in. Still, it's always worth shooting down facile anti-superhero arguments, and Franklin's a past master at it.
Finally, ADDTF reader Ben Burgess pointed me to this Gardner Linn post on Grant Morrison's recently completed New X-Men. An in-depth summary of the entire forty-issue run, tracing each of Morrison's themes from inception to conclusion, this post is so good it will make your hair hurt. As sad as I am that Morrison's X-book is no longer a going concern, and that Marvel shows no sign of following it up with anything remotely resembling its genuinely revolutionary combination of sophistication and heart, the thought that we're now able to talk about it all the way Gardner talks about it makes me glad indeed.
Okay, back to work.
Attention all new(ish) comics bloggers! You may not be aware of this, but blogger Dave G. runs a superb update/referral page, which can be found here. If you know how to ping Blo.gs, you can be a part of the page. It's a really easy way to keep readers up to date on when you last posted, and it's rapidly become the number-one traffic generator for this blog and many others. If you're new to the blogging game and haven't gotten on board the page, you really ought to.
Okay, I'm just saying this because having you all on the Comic Weblog Update Page just makes my surfing a lot easier. But it's good for you too, honest!
A couple of days ago I questioned Franklin Harris's assertion that the preponderance of superhero comics in the Direct Market does not force non-superhero comics out of that market. Today Franklin responds:
Sean assumes that if only comic-book shops stocked more non-superhero titles, those titles would sell. But the direct market hasn't given me any indication that there is a sizeable, unmet demand for non-superhero comics.
Yes, but this is because the Direct Market is a classic example of the self-fulfilled prophecy. The DM was created by superhero companies (mainly Marvel), staffed by superhero fans, and geared almost exclusively toward superhero fans. OF COURSE superhero comics sell very well in the DM while other comics don't--superhero fans have had several decades to learn that this is where they must go for there superhero comics, while fans of other types of comics have had several decades to learn that in any given state in the Union the stores that can fully service their needs number in the low single digits. That the indie and alternative companies have been able to find a niche in the DM at all is almost more luck than anything else.
The reason it appears as though non-superhero comics won't sell is because, given the current set-up of the DM, they can't. Decades of deliberately targeted anti-competitive publishing, advertising, and retailership have created a situation where, if on this very day every comics shop in America started ordering as many copies of Optic Nerve as they do of Batman, the things would just languish on the racks. Except, of course, at those mythical "good" comics shops, where things like Optic Nerve sell like hotcakes, because people know they can find them there. The point is, not only have superhero comics (or at least their blinders-wearing hardcore devotees) forced out non-superhero comics from the DM, they've pretty much destroyed any chance for non-superhero comics to ever come back. This is why publishers who specialize in other genres are so energetically exploring other venues.
Usually debates like these devolve into some pro/anti-art comics argument: "You're just upset because some lame autobio comic isn't selling as much as JSA" or whatever. So for the sake of avoiding this argument, let's ignore Blankets, Persepolis, Jimmy Corrigan, Maus, Ghost World and any number of other acclaimed and successful alternative comics that nine comics shops out of ten don't even carry. How about manga, for crying out loud? Japanese comics are a sales phenomenon in the bookstore market, as anyone can tell you--and the DM is ignoring it! Indeed, a vocal contingent of both retailers and consumers is actively advocating against pursuing it! If you can give me a reason why this easy-access source of buckets of revenue is being eschewed that isn't "the DM, through the predilections of its retailers and consumers and through the machinations of the big American publishers and their monopolistic distributor, is willfully incapable of selling anything but superhero comics," I'll shake your hand.
And hell, since manga is almost as divisive a topic as altcomix at this point, how about comic-strip collections, perennial best-sellersr in the real world? When was the last time you saw The Complete Far Side or a Calvin & Hobbes book at your local Android's Dungeon? Any guesses as to how many copies of The Complete Peanuts Vol. 1 the place has ordered? The bitch of this is, of course, that the reactionary retailers we hear from from time to time may in fact be right--maybe altcomix and even strip collections and manga won't sell in the DM. But that, paradoxically, is because the DM has worked too well as a superheroes-only vendor. Retailers would have to break decades-old habits held to with devotional fervor by both themselves and their clientele in order to draw in consumers for these other genres, who've long come to associate DM shops with Superman and nothing else. Many, I'd guess, wouldn't survive the transition. And yes, this is the fault of superhero comics.
Over at Tim O'Neil's blog, Comics Journal editor emeritus Tom Spurgeon writes in to make many of these same points, drawing on information gleaned from his years at the Journal, and as an employee of indie comics stalwart Fantagraphics. Tom also points out something I hadn't really thought of--the superhero companies have been so effective at creating an environment where only superhero comics sell that it's next to impossible for them to publish anything but superhero comics. DC still tries some noble experiments, but the majority of even its most unorthodox ventures still center around the "extraordinary man"; Marvel, one-time publisher of the genuinely bizarre Epic line, has by now pretty much said that superheroes are and will be all they do, forever and ever amen.
Listen, I know that superheroes are popular enough and that these companies can make pretty decent bank from superhero fans; I know that the genre isn't hated by the people of the real world as it is by the anti-genre partisans that claim to speak for said real world here within comics debating circles; I've heard all the arguments saying that there's nothing wrong with these publishers being niche publishers and these stores being niche stores; but doesn't it strike you as close to wantonly self-destructive for publishers and the market that keeps them afloat to have set themselves up in such a way as to fundamentally preclude diversification?
POSTSCRIPT: It's worth noting that, as Dave Intermittent points out, there's always some definitional hinkiness going on when comics is discussed, due to the fact that by comics one can mean
1) The art form/the medium
2) The industry/the business
3) 22-page floppy pamphlets
4) Trade paperback collections of same
5) Graphic novels
6) The publishers
7) The distributors
8) The consumers
9) The readers
10) The fans
11) The creators
12) The retailers
13) The direct market
14) The bookstore market
15) American comics
16) All comics worldwide
And on and on and on. For example, in his most recent post on the topic, Franklin says this:
To be clear, I'm talking just about 22-page comics, not graphic novels. Still, it is even more obvious that superheroes aren't squeezing other genres out of the graphic-novel sector, because in bookstores manga is "squeezing out" superheroes.
So, among 22-page comics, the superhero genre is the last genre standing following an industry-wide decline that began in the late 1950s. And in bookstores, superhero graphic novels are losing the battle for shelf space to manga. Either way, I don't see how superheroes are to blame for driving out other genres.
In a way, the definitional fuzziness works to his advantage: He's able to argue that superhero comics aren't stifling the sales of non-superhero comics, because non-superhero floppies don't sell well anyway, and because non-superhero graphic novels sell better in the bookstores than do superhero graphic novels.
But if you focus the debate on the Direct Market itself, as I have tried to do, these supposed mitigators of superhero hegemony are revealed to be nothing more than the consequences of that hegemony. 22-page non-superhero comics don't sell well because the Direct Market is built to sell only 22-page superhero comics, and it's been this way for years--the people who shop in the Direct Market aren't interested in non-superhero comics, and the people interested in non-superhero comics no longer shop in the Direct Market. Non-superhero graphic novels sell better than superhero graphic novels in the bookstores because they've been forced into the bookstores by the complete domination of the Direct Market by superhero comics--fans of non-superhero comics go to the bookstores because that's where they can find what they want, while fans of superhero comics don't go to the bookstores because they can already find what they want elsewhere, at shops designed around their needs in toto.
Unfortunately for all of us, non-superhero companies still do enough business in the DM--which despite its best efforts to limit the field to one genre is still the main place to get any kind of comic, not just superhero ones--that if the DM were to implode, it would take nearly the entire American comics industry with it. Indie publishers still mainly rely on those "good comic shops" to keep them afloat; good comic shops still mainly rely on superhero companies to keep them afloat; superhero companies still mainly rely on crappy comic shops to keep them afloat; crappy comic shops still rely on superheroes-only readers to keep them afloat; superheroes-only readers are a dying breed. Non-superhero comics readers, therefore, are unhealthily tied to their superheroes-only bretheren in terms of whether or not they'll be able to read any comics at all.
It's a problem for everyone, in other words.
Found a couple of interesting essays on the ramifications of fast-moving zombies. (I love being a horror geek.)
Slate's Josh Levin traces the zombie genre from its roots in the Carribean-hypnotist flicks of the 1930s through the Romero/Fulci Golden Age of the late 60s and 70s and the fast-acting video-game undead and their motion-picture spinoffs of the late 90s and early 00s, culminating in the critically-acclaimed one-two punch of 28 Days Later and Dawn of the Dead. Have we reached the tipping point as to public pereception of zombies as being slow or fast?
Blogger Tim Hulsey, meanwhile, thinks that fast-moving zombies lack the sociopolitical relevance of slow-moving ones. No, I'm not kidding, you genre snobs. (Link courtesy of the Slate article.) He makes some solid points over the philosophical, almost poetic resonance of the prevailing zombie-attack image of the original Romero films--that of a lone human succumbing to a slow but unstoppable mob of zombies, arms outstretched, mouths gaping.
But isn't there something to be said for the image of Sarah Polley's zombified husband, launching himself across rooms, bashing down doors, leaping on car hoods, running full tilt down the street in a frantic effort to slaughter and consume the woman we'd seen him make love to in the shower and then snuggle with in bed not five minutes earlier? I certainly think there is.
Aside from the fact that fast zombies have shock potential that's scary as shit, and present the kind of palpable threat that makes you recoil physically from the thought of being caught up to by one of them (I've certainly had more nightmares about zombies after 28 Days Later and the new Dawn than I did before them), fast zombies also take the impersonalized mob metaphor of their slow-moving counterparts and make it horrifyingly individual. Yes, they still move in packs, but any one zombie of this new breed will stop at nothing to murder you, and indeed the ability to do so is well within its grasp. In an age where taking the bus or the train to work is an act of substantial courage, where a handful of men can slaughter thousands and rewrite the course of history with nothing more than stuff you've got lying around your garage or tool box, isn't the fast-moving zombie deeply, almost uncomfortably, evocative?
POSTSCRIPT: Now might be a good time to point you back, once again, to my initial spoiler-y review of 28 Days Later. I think both movies were excellent, though it's worth pointing out that I detected any number of logical errors and plot holes in 28DL, whereas DotDv2 really only had one, which was that every character, most of whom had probably never handled a firearm before in their lives, was able to hit fast-moving targets in the head--while running, no less, and sometimes while running backward. These folks got more head shots than Delta Force, I'm telling you.
Slate's David Edelstein takes a giant shit all over Lars von Trier's latest exercise in sadistic misogyny masquerading as An Artistic Statement, the Nicole Kidman-starrer Dogville. Apparently von Trier, a consummate bullshit artist whose crassly manipulative Dancer in the Dark nearly drove its open-hearted genius of a star Bjork insane, has added a heaping helping of ignorant and facile anti-Americanism into his usual formula of undergraduate misanthropy and sexualized violence. Normally I'd expect a certain class of film fan and quote-unquote intellectual to eat this shit up with a spoon, but I wonder if von Trier hasn't finally jumped the philosophically and artistically bankrupt shark that's been swimming around in his very shallow idea pool for so long.
It's the Battle of People Who Haven't Seen the Movie They're Battling About!
One of my favorite bloggers, Mr. John Jakala, takes me to task for my bashing of Lars von Trier's new movie Dogville. He says that it's not fair to hold the off-screen bad blood between von Trier and Bjork, the star of his last film, against the director's work itself. He also says:
I suspect that what's really bugging Sean is the (in his view) "anti-Americanism" that supposedly pervades Dogville. How accurate that label is I really can't say. Again, I haven't seen the film yet, nor am I interested in reading any specific reviews or criticism of the film until I have seen it. But in any event, can't an artist create worthwhile (i.e., challenging, thought-provoking) art even if his politics disagree with ours? Or is it now the case that, in art as well as in politics, you're either with us or against us?
No, what's really bothering me is that von Trier is a misogynistic pig who beats up his women characters and calls it art. The kneejerk, ignorance-based anti-Americanism--which isn't a valid "politics" any more than misogyny or anti-Semitism is--is merely icing on the intellectually and artistic bankrupt cake. And it's not just me that's picked up on von Trier's lazy America bashing--I've seen similar views expressed in Slate and The New Yorker (the latter by David Denby!). We're not exacly in Weekly Standard territory here.
Meanwhile, I mentioned the Bjork thing not because I think behind-the-scenes shenanigans necessarily affect the work itself, but because von Trier's apparent treatment of his star perfectly mirrors his treatment of his women characters. Hitchcock's treatment of women in his films is problematic for many, and of course he sent Tippi Hedren to the hospital, yet Hitchcock is terrible to everyone in his films, and Hedren worked with him again and never has anything but nice things to say about him when she's interviewed. Women are always specially singled out for torment and abuse in von Trier's work, and Bjork not only won't work with von Trier again, she won't work on ANY film again. I think that says a lot more about von Trier than your average backstage spat, particularly since it meshes so well with the fate he appears to think women deserve if his films are any indication. That's the the thing about artists like von Trier and (to use an example John cites) Dave Sim, as opposed to the typical financial or interpersonal skullduggery evident behind the scenes of many artistic projects--the unsavory aspects of von Trier and Sim's off-screen personae absolutely are tangible within their art itself.
As an aside, Bruce Baugh wrote to me on the topic of von Trier, saying the following:
Dogme 95 ate his brain. It's a shame, because his early work _does_
deserve its reputation, I think. I love The Kingdom and The Element Of
Crime, in particular. But whenever someone slides from saying "this is
how I prefer to work" to "this is the only legitimate way to work",
well, huge sucking vacuum follows. It's too easy to slip into a
situation where you never get your basic urges checked or questioned.
I absolutely agree with this. In film school I learned very quickly to run away from any filmmaker who'd penned anything close to a manifesto. Their work may have its moments, but aside from one or two genuinely good films at most they're pretty much useless both as artists and as commentators on the human condition. Von Trier may have abandoned the rules of Dogme 95, but you can't abandon the the kind of mind that allows you to think writing manifestos is a good idea in the first place. Or as Denby put it in his review, "Like so many revolutionaries, von Trier can’t wait to impose himself on free people."
Finally, I want to say that I'm not sure why John believes that it's von Trier's anti-Americanism that's "really bothering me," as opposed to von Trier's grotesque treatment of women. (Heaven forbid we consider my apolitical objections to his work, like the fact that he commits the cardinal sin of hack writers and Batman scribes everywhere in mistaking heaping abuse on characters for saying something interesting about them...) I don't mean to come off like a strident jerk, but I really do wish that people would pay as much attention to my ostensibly left-leaning opinions as they do to the ones that coincidentally are also shared by the right. The implication that I think artists whose politics differ from my own cannot "create worthwhile (i.e., challenging, thought-provoking) art" is just silly, and can be refuted by examining the work and politics of, well, pretty much every writer and musician whose work I admire at this point, and the fact that I still admire their work. John's invocation of that oh-so-simplistic "with us or against us" rubric may score points, but it sure as heck doesn't say anything about my actual aesthetic viewpoint, as I'd hoped would be clear to readers of this blog by now.
Here's what I'm asking: Why is it that folks ignore it when I go on and on about feminism and gay rights but are so ready to say "a-ha!" when I say that I find anti-Americanism distasteful, or anything else of that nature? My one major deviation from libertarian-liberal orthodoxy is my support for a vigorously and unapologetically waged war on terrorism and the theocratic, fascist ideology that promulgates that terrorism; why does this cause so many people to place all my other deeply and sincerely felt political beliefs on the pay-no-mind list?
(One more thing, John: I like Nicole Kidman a lot too! Though the roots of my admiration are in Eyes Wide Shut rather than Moulin Rouge. These days she seems very obviously eating disordered, which is sad, but she's a fine and adventurous actress, Dogville or no.)
Here's J.W. Hastings on those crazy neocon New Gods, and on how the "multiple leaps of logic" derided by critics of superhero stories actually enable the genre to transcend a-is-a reductionism and emerge into the more powerful realm of metaphor. As J.W. puts it:
The ethical questions the best super-hero comics--like Morrison's X-Men--raise are not "What responsiblity would you have if you had superpowers?" but "What do you do with the responsibility you do have?"
Speaking of the X-Men, Dave Intermittent explains how he fell in love with them, and through them with comics. In the process he deflates the argument for making "comics for kids"--kids, he say, don't want them.
Good stuff all. Enjoy.
Is this the best thing Warren Ellis has ever said?
If I'm the Marvel EIC, then my first responsibility is to make money for the company. I'm an employee. That's what I do. I don't do all these extraneous books with characters known only to the hardcore fans....I want a GHOST RIDER book, because everyone knows Nic Cage wants to do GHOST RIDER, and it's going to be about a guy on a bike with his head on fire who runs people over. And then lights them on fire. And then goes into a bar and drinks it and does Lisa Marie Presley over the pool table and then lights the place on fire and goes out and gets back on his bike and looks for more people to run over. This is what they want. Damn straight.
Answer: Yes, this is the best thing Warren Ellis has ever said. (From MillarWorld
, courtesy of Popp'd
I just want to say that I think I have yet to view a major Sopranos murder without having had said murder spoiled for me beforehand. Seriously. Not one.
Jamie Rich's anger at the comics "mainstream" burns with the white-hot fire of a thousand suns, and you know what? It should.
It occurred to me today what a travesty, what an enormously fucking huge leap backwards it is to replace Grant Morrison's New X-Men with the braindead retroatrocities Marvel has planned. The corporate-mandated return to spandex...the Cyclops "body condom"...the return to the anti-golden age of 90s-style X-scripting (paging Doctors Lobdell & Tieri)...two monthly books in which Chris Claremont is free explore his bizarre metafictional parentosexual relationship with Kitty Pryde...allowing Chuck Austen to continue to use the franchise as his writ-large therapist's couch (or electroshock bench, take your pick)..."enabling" Rob Liefeld...revivifying concepts that have failed time and time again in the eyes of all but the hardest of the hardcore fanboy in the guise of giving the people what they want...do you think any of it will engender thoughts like this, or this? Hell, look at this massive Barbelith thread--do you think that any of the follow-ups to Morrison's run (even Whedon's) will lead to discussion with this breadth and depth, all supported by a text that spells nothing out yet adds so much in, said text having been written by someone smart enough and talented enough and big-hearted enough to think his work through on so very many levels? Fat. Fucking. Chance.
I don't blame Jamie for being pissed at all. Over the past four years the comics "mainstream" has had maybe its greatest chance since the early '60s to do something. Comics is a real Wild West medium--it's out in the hinterlands of pop culture, where anything goes, where the tools and the energy of the bona fide mainstream zeitgeist can be used and abused in any number of glorious ways, where art-world and Hollywood bullshit can be righteously and thoroughly pissed on and ignored. And a few years back a bunch of mavericks took over Marvel, and for a while it looked like they'd drag the whole superhero industry into the wild frontier.
And what happened? For every Sgt. Pepper (read: New X-Men) and Kick Out the Jams (read: The Dark Knight Strikes Again), we got about four dozen Nickelback records: joyless, pointless retreads of the Candlebox albums currently preserving the memory of the '90s shit-glut in discount bins nationwide.
Listen, Marvel did a lot of good over the past four years, and they're still doing a lot of good now. I think Marvel bashers really miss how the company turned things around for all the other superhero publishers--getting writers rather than artists acknowledged as the backbone of the industry warrants Quesada & Jemas's inclusion in the proverbial comics hall of fame all by itself. But take a look at Marvel's current publishing plans--those good books are something Marvel's moving away from now, not something they're headed toward. Do you think you'll see something like Jones's Hulk or Milligan's X-Force come out of the Reload initiative? Do you think anyone but Bendis will get a chance to write something as moody and risky as Bendis's Daredevil or Alias? For that matter, do you think Millar will be able to do with The Ultimates what Millar did with The Ultimates? Even the Bendis-centered Avengers-titles revamps, helmed as they are by solid indie pros, are being touted as back to basics. I'm not saying the experiments of the last few years have always worked, but good Christ, has no one told this company that its basics have sucked for three decades?
And oh yeah, did I mention that this latest bold new direction will continue the time-honored tradition of simultaneously ignoring and suffocating both the true mainstream (manga, other types of genre storytelling) and the vital underground? Because that's what's made American comics the picture of health that it is today!
I'll admit to being in a bad mood this evening. I had a terrible day at work, I hurt my feet, someone stole the front license plate off my pick-up, and it goes on. But the book that brought me back to comics is over, and I'm surveying the landscape, and there's just nothing out there, man. It's heartbreaking, is what it is. And I say this not because I hate superheroes and comics and superhero comics, but because I love them.
(Original link courtesy of NeilAlien. Look what you done, Neil!)
Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.