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Your source for free-form Collins


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.)
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An anthology of comics written by Sean T. Collins
Art by Matt Wiegle, Matt Rota, and Josiah Leighton
Designed by Matt Wiegle


An indie fantasy anthology
Featuring a comic by Sean T. Collins & Matt Wiegle


Amazon Honor System Click Here to Pay Learn More

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

script: Sean T. Collins
art: Matt Wiegle

It Brought Me Some Peace of Mind
script: Sean T. Collins
art: Matt Rota
edit: Brett Warnock

A Real Gentle Knife
script: Sean T. Collins
art: Josiah Leighton
lyrics: "Rippin Kittin" by Golden Boy & Miss Kittin

The Real Killers Are Still Out There
script: Sean T. Collins
art: Matt Wiegle

Destructor in: Prison Break
story: 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

Best Of
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 2005

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)

My 35 Favorite Horror Films of All Time (at the moment)

My David Bowie Sketchbook

The Manly Movie Mamajama

Presidential Milkshakes

Horror and Certainty I

Horror and Certainty II

En Garde--I'll Let You Try My New Dumb Avant Garde Style, Part I
Part II

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
Part II

Meet the New Boss: The Politics of Killing, Part I
Part II

130 Things I Loved About The Sopranos

In Defense of "Torture Porn," Part I
Part II

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
Movie Reviews
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
Part II
Part III
Part IV

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
Part II
Part III

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
Part II

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
Part II
Part III

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
Part II

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
Part II

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
Part II

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
Part II

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
Part II

The Wicker Man (Hardy, 1973)

The Wire (Simon et al, 2002-2008)

Zombi 2 [Zombie] (Fulci, 1980)

Zombieland (Fleischer, 2009)

Book Reviews
Music Reviews
Comics Reviews
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
Part II

Blackest Night #0-2 (Johns & Reis, 2009)

Blankets (Thompson, 2003)

Blankets revisited

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)

Gags (DeForge)

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
Part II

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
Part II



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October 2008 Archives

October 1, 2008

Comics Time: Shenzhen


Guy Delisle, writer/artist
Drawn & Quarterly, 2006
152 pages
$19.95, hardcover
Buy it from D&Q
Buy it from

Shenzhen is the second book to be released in French-Canadian cartoonist/animator Guy Delisle's series of travelogues about working in Asian dictatorships (although I believe it was the first to be written); the art in both the ones I've read so far is so effortless and well-constructed it almost disappears. This book's predecessor, Pyongyang, was a really breathtaking look at life in the country with the worst human rights record on Earth--I mean, how can you top a fish-out-of-water story set in a nation that seems to have used 1984 as a how-to manual? You can't, really, and Shenzhen doesn't come across as an attempt. Since the Chinese autocracy, at least in the areas Delisle visits, is far less all-pervasive than Kim Jong-Il's, the book is by necessity a lot less about normal workaday life butting up against the contours of a nightmarish totalitarianism. Obviously there's a culture clash to be found, but Delisle is quite aware that whatever "inscrutability" he finds in the customs and habits of his hosts lies at least as much with him as it does with them.

Instead, Shenzhen slowly reveals itself to be about how life in the city--an economic "free zone" surrounded by electric fences and guard towers, a place that's freer than nearly any other in China yet still drearily proscripted--is sort of a macro version of what Delisle's internal life as a working stiff is in micro. While in many ways Delisle and his European and American counterparts have much more freedom than anyone he'll meet in China--at a "miniature world tour" tourist attraction he reflects that if he wanted he could simply buy a ticket to India and visit the actual Taj Mahal, while a tiny, rat-infested replica is as close as any of his co-workers are ever likely to get--his dispiriting daily routine is hardly any different from those of his Chinese counterparts. The biggest discrepancy appears to lie in the availability of leisure products: There's something quite poignant about how his co-workers glom on to whatever meager scraps of Western art and entertainment they can get--a single picture of a Rembrandt painting, a Magic Johnson highlight reel, a painting of a French dinner setting, bootleg movies with the theater audience visible and audible--while Delisle can lie on his bed and listen to "the new Portishead CD" and wonder what the maid in his hotel, who occasionally uses/abuses his discman while she cleans, must think of it. What emerges is a picture of life in a state that has gone from Communist to corporatist, accruing the world-power benefits of wealth while passing few of its normally attendant social improvements down to the workers who make that wealth possible--and the disquieting hint that we Western wage slaves, whatever somatic advantages we might have, are a lot more similar to the workers of Shenzhen than we'd like to believe.

Everything But the Girl - Before Today

Not counting the dancing girls who I guess came with the show, is there a single moment in this performance that is not completely disarming, open, and emotionally direct? Tracey Thorn's unassuming outfit and tentative dancing, even the slight false notes here and there in her otherwise silken voice, give the impression that she's just some girl who after months and months of sitting in her apartment thinking these thoughts finally found the courage to sing them. "Tonight I feel above the law--I'm comin' in to land"...if you can find a better encapsulation of that blissfully, knowingly foolhardy confidence you get when you're finally gonna make your move on the person you want, I want you to please let me know. This is a perfect little song.

Batman: R.I.P.

Today the penultimate issue of Grant Morrison & Tony Daniel's "Batman: R.I.P." storyline comes out, and with it, one would assume, the reveal of one or both of the storyline's big mysteries: the identity of criminal mastermind the Black Glove and the fate of Batman himself. I actually have no clue what happens and my friends who do have kept mum, and I haven't stumbled across any spoilers online, either. It's been a loooooong time since I looked forward to reading an issue of a comic with the same anticipation that I looked forward to watching an episode of Lost or late Sopranos. I actually gushed about it to the Missus this morning, something I'm not sure I've ever done about a monthly comic: "Something really big's gonna happen to Batman but no one knows what it is!" Maybe this is what reading comics feels like for people who don't work at Wizard and find out everything in advance.

Out of the Darkness

Recent events in the lives of people very close to us have prompted The Missus to join the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's Out of the Darkness community walk in Old Westbury, Long Island this weekend. The walk is a fundraiser for the AFSP, and she's set up a donor page for people who would like to sponsor her walk. Her target amount is $500. Would you please donate whatever you can to help?

October 2, 2008


I will be attending the Small Press Expo in Bethesday, Maryland this Saturday. I will be wearing a bright red Partyka T-shirt and (most likely) carrying a San Diego Comic-Con tote bag, and, of course, you will know me by the trail of Bowie sketches. Please say hello to me!

Carnival of souls

* Stop your grinnin' and drop your linen—there's a veritable bumper crop of new Kevin Huizenga comics, including the new Or Else and the debut of Fight or Run, available for purchase at this weekend's SPX, where I and my wallet will be in attendance. Good stuff from PictureBox, too, including Powr Mastrs Vol. 2.

* Looks like Zack Snyder did one of those Fellowship of the Rings deals where a goodly chunk of Watchmen footage was screened for critics, to seemingly uniformly positive reactions. The movie's gonna be 2 hours and 43 minutes long or so, while the length of Dr. Manhattan's visible cock was unverified at presstime. AICN's Moriarty has a lengthy review.

* Speaking of Snyder, at the Watchmen sneak peek he revealed he is in fact planning a 300 sequel based on an as-yet-unfinished, and most likely un-started, new Frank Miller graphic novel about a subsequent battle between the Greeks and Persians. I'm looking forward to both.

* Joe "Jog" McCulloch seems less high on Batman #680 than I was--I really quite liked it; the sinister ambiance of that comic was really something--but you should read his review anyway.

* Finally, Happy 40th Birthday, Night of the Living Dead!


October 3, 2008

Comics Time: Burma Chronicles


Burma Chronicles
Guy Delisle, writer/artist
Drawn & Quarterly, 2008
272 pages, hardcover
Buy it from D&Q
Buy it from

Early on, I thought that this was going to be my least favorite of Delisle's three tyranny travelogues. This time out, instead of Delisle being sent to China or North Korea due to his job as an animator, it's his wife, a member of Doctors Without Borders, whose career has brought Delisle to Burma (technically Myanmar, but that's essentially the "slave name" assigned it by the ruling military junta, so many countries don't use it). This means that the daily grind of work that formed the spine of Delisle's activities in Pyongyang and Shenzhen gets replaced with laps around a pool, cute business with his baby Louis, and a generally more tourist/holiday vibe. The more it starts to feel like a James Kochalka sketchbook diary the more you feel the absence of that structure. (The inclusion, for the first time, of slapsticky wordless vignettes doesn't help either.)

But in a way, this is fitting, because Burma as a nation seems to be missing the usual structure as well. As seen through the glimpses Delisle is afforded, China is a country that's genuinely interested in the economic products of the modern professional, though not the cultural and political ones, and is milking them for all they're worth. North Korea is too far gone to make a go of that, but to flatter itself and properly impress its subjects, the regime makes a show of being modern; it can't afford not to lie about it. Now, perhaps it's just Delisle's lack of gainful employment that masks bustling business elsewhere in the city of Rangoon, but Burma as a government seems perfectly content with letting the people with whom Westerners come in contact live in relative, non-Westernized simplicity, while away from Western eyes--in entire zones of the country where foreigners are not permitted--the real economic and military depredations take place. Indeed, shielding their doings from outsiders appears to be their number-one concern.

This picture begins to emerge about a quarter of the way through the book and slowly picks up steam because, for the first time, one of Delisle's travel memoirs has a sort of real-life "plot": The death by a thousand cuts to which the junta is subjecting Western charities and NGOs, preventing them from reaching the people who need them the most (persecuted minorities) and slowly forcing them to shut themselves down lest they end up complicit in the government's discrimination. Slowly the junta's efforts at reality control become harder to miss--culminating most absurdly in the wholesale relocation of the capital from Rangoon to a prefab city in the middle of nowhere whose name can't even be released to the public for security reasons.

Once again Delisle is a jolly, slightly frantic fish out of water, but this time the juxtaposition between him and his host nation is more poignant than ever. Two stories stick out: A meditation retreat at a Buddhist monastery, the simplicity of which seems to almost haunt Delisle after the information overload of all his other journeys throughout the country; and a heartbreaking incident in which Delisle beamingly presents a French newspaper article about his sojourn in Burma to the amateur animators he's been teaching as a hobby, only to discover that because of its critical tone toward the junta, one of his students is soon "disappeared." In both of these very different cases Delisle is left wondering how life could be lived that way, and so are we.

Breaking news

Wizard COO Fred Pierce has been fired.

Please donate

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's fundraiser walk is this Sunday. My wife will be walking and she's close to her new goal of raising $1000. Please consider donating even just a few dollars to this very worthwhile cause.

October 6, 2008

Comics Time: Abe Sapien: The Drowning


Abe Sapien: The Drowning
Mike Mignola, writer
Jason Shawn Alexander, artist
Dark Horse, 2008
144 pages
Buy it from

Maybe the most interesting thing about Mike Mignola's Hellboy/B.P.R.D. franchise is how at this point in its history, when Mignola and his collaborators are producing enough miniseries set in this world to give the impression that it's actually one big ongoing monthly (if not two!), the material is actually at its bleakest. What was once a rollicking Jack Kirby vs. H.P. Lovecraft mash-up—albeit one that wedded the former artist's bombast and visual joie de vivre with the at times oppressive horror of the latter—is now almost a tone poem about three-time loserdom. Pretty much every Hellboy-related miniseries over the past extremely productive year or so has left me feeling really sad about the characters, who regularly confront evidence that they're just not up to snuff, and that there are things in the world so horrible that even a demon, a fishman, a ghost, a firestarter, a resurrected black-ops officer, and a small army of experts and soldiers look like pikers compared to it.

That's certainly the theme of Abe Sapien: The Drowning, the first solo series dedicated to Hellboy's gilled second banana. Set during one of Hellboy's earlier hiatuses from the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense, it shares with the current series of Mignola/John Arcudi/Guy Davis minis a sense that without the Big Red One around, without his guiding force, his colleagues and friends can barely keep their head above water. Some people are different and special because of it, the message seems to be, but some people are just different, and that makes life a long, difficult struggle indeed.

In this case, Abe is sent on what's supposed to be an easy mission in order to break him in as a solo operative: Swim around off the coast of a former leper colony to retrieve a magic dagger once used to kill a warlock, now resting on the ocean floor somewhere. It doesn't go so well. One thing that struck me is just how much Mignola uses certain tropes that obviously scare him on some level in nearly all of his books: little unassuming guys transforming into big giant horrible monsters; groups of creepy servant people; mouths opening and extruding something huge and terrible. Nearly all of this is reflected in the plot, which starts out small and seemingly clear and soon balloons into a morass of shifting and expanding alliances and motives. Poor Abe is out of his depth in more ways than one.

Besides being one of Mignola's more emotionally affecting stories of late, it's also one of his most effective as horror. That's largely down to the art of Jason Shawn Alexander, who owes less to Mignola's high-contrast cartooning or Guy Davis's neurotic line and more to the '80s and '90s horror and dark fantasy of artists like the Hampton Brothers, Pratt, and John Van Fleet (all of whom are amusingly name-checked as B.P.R.D. agents). There are a great many striking panels (the burning ghost priest, the statue of Saint Sebastian, the moray eel) and a few genuinely frightening, tough-to-look-at ones (the old woman in the window, the face of the warlock, the converted church). I know there's a knee-jerk reaction to a writer-artist farming out part of his workload to other creators, but Mignola's choices in that regard, from Arcudi and Davis to Richard Corben to Alexander) have been consistently terrific. The same is true of their comics.

Carnival of souls

* SPX was this weekend! It was fun. Jog, Chris Mautner, and Rickey Purdin have all blogged at length about it, and I mention them specifically because they mentioned me specifically in their reports, which is really all it takes. In terms of individual selling points for those reports, Rickey includes a list of everything he got which should give you a sense of how much appealing stuff was on sale, Chris includes photos which show you what the experience was like, and Jog goes in-depth on the panels he participated in as well as offering a summary of the comics internet and how it's changed by way of digression.

* My own SPX report will go up at Tom Spurgeon's site sometime soon. And yes, There Will Be Bowie Sketches here soon as well.

* There's definitely a new George A. Romero Dead movie on the way, and it's probably not a direct sequel to the truly terrible Diary of the Dead thank god, and it's maybe called Island of the Dead. I think that covers it.

* There's also maybe a third 28/Later movie on the way, and it's maybe called 28 Months Later, and it's maybe directed by Paul Andrew Williams. I think that covers it.

* For some reason, Roger Ebert talks to the Wachowski Brothers about Gordon Willis's cinematography as seen in the new remastered edition of The Godfather. (Via Whitney Matheson.)

* I'm sure the Siegels are indeed genuinely grateful for the money writer Brad Meltzer raised to save Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel's childhood home, the birthplace of Superman. I'm sure Meltzer is totally sincere in doing this, on-sale book about Siegel or no. It's a nice thing to have done, a mitzvah for a family who could use one these days. But it leaves a funny taste in my mouth given that at this very moment, the publisher at which Meltzer is a huge deal is engaged in a legal battle against the Siegel family over Siegel's creations. Maybe it's just seeing these stories appear on the same on the same day that's making me scratch my head, but surely there are more meaningful, dare I say vitally important, ways to honor the creation of Superman by Jerry Siegel in terms of systemic reform for which high-profile writers and artists could publicly agitate than by refurbishing a house. Tom Spurgeon is right (see item #16): at a certain point it comes down not to high-falutin' ethics, but to our common self-respect.

* UPDATE: Kiel Phegley offers an interesting counterpoint.

October 7, 2008


My SPX 2008 con report is up at Tom Spurgeon's Comics Reporter. I hope you enjoy it!

Carnival of souls

* M. Night Shyamalan is all gung ho about doing an Unbreakable sequel, which was the original plan before audience reaction proved lukewarm compared to The Sixth Sense. Of course we've now seen that some lukewarm audience reactions to post-Sixth Sense Shyamalan films are more lukewarm than others, so Unbreakable 2 is suddenly a lot more feasible, especially given the ever-increasing mania for superheroes and what you have to imagine will be an increased willingness on the part of post-Hancock Hollywood to try superheroes without comic-book bonafides.

* Remember yesterday when I said there's maybe going to be a sequel to 28 Days/Weeks Later that was maybe gonna be called 28 Months Later and maybe directed by Paul Andrew Wiliams? Well now that last part has maybe been debunked, but we can add "it's maybe set in Russia" to the maybe-facts we know about the movie, maybe. (Via Bloody Disgusting.)

* The concluding volume of Brian Ralph's first-person zombie thriller Daybreak came out at SPX: you can see the final installment online here and read the "script" for the last 20 pages here.

* Here's that SPX 2008 report I did again.

* Dave Kiersh rules.


* So does Paul Pope.


October 8, 2008

Comics Time: Look Out!! Monsters #1


Look Out!! Monsters #1
Geoff Grogan, writer/artist
self-published, September 2008
32 pages
Buy it from Geoff Grogan

Where did this thing come from? I was handed a copy of Look Out!! Monsters by creator Geoff Grogan's wife at SPX, and they seemed like friendly, unassuming folks--certainly not the hipstery enfants terribles you might expect to be behind a comic like this. Meanwhile, Google tells me that Geoff Grogan is a cartoonist behind a Rat Pack pastiche called Nice Work, a Xeric Grant recipient for this very comic, and a writer-about-comics who penned this interesting essay challenging the artcomics approach of Kramers Ergot. As it turns out, his work in Look Out!! Monsters would fit nicely next to the Kramers volumes on your bookshelf. Like the best stuff in that anthology series, its art--painted over collaged pieces of The New York Times--calls attention to its own construction but is nevertheless harnessed to an emotionally rich narrative. It's really impressive.

The nuts and bolts of the book feature Frankenstein's monster appearing in the smoking crater left behind by an airstrike during what looks like World War I. The Monster assaults a trench full of soldiers in a thrillingly staged fight that evokes both Jack Kirby and David Mazzuchelli, before a cleverly constructed transition suddenly finds both us and the Monster whisked away to a Gothic cathedral. There things take a turn for the creepy, with the Monster mimicking a gargoyle's disgorgement of water, before the comic gets all non-narrative on us, with huge splash pages and spreads of Frankensteinian lab equipment, Lee/Kirby unstable-molecule pseudo-scientific dot-printed epiphanies, images of unspecified violence and romance, the return of the Monster to assault a hapless victim, and finally the collapse of the Twin Towers. Beneath it all--literally, since the canvas consists of newspaper snippets--are hints of the chaos unleashed by that catastrophic attack, as terrifying and unpredictable as the creation of Frankenstein and the Fantastic Four, rough beasts slouching toward Bethlehem to be born. It's beautiful to look at and very hard to shake; concept and execution are both very successful on a variety of levels. Do look out for it.

Carnvial of souls

* My pal Zach Oat at Movies Without Pity presents an extravagantly detailed recap of the half-hour of Watchmen footage recently screened for members of the press who aren't me.

* Speaking of Watchmen, actor Matthew "Ozymandias" Goode continues his streak of being amusingly forthright about his role, adding "possible closeted homosexual" to "child of Nazis" among his personal additions to the character. I'm trying to think if there's any other effete-villain clichés he can throw in there...any thoughts?

* David Cronenberg may be doing another thriller--a Robert Ludlum adaptation starring Denzel Washington. I am totally in support of this. (Via AICN.)

* Jon Hastings takes a look at the Luna Brothers' Ultra and the perils of superhero niche marketing.

* In a "short post" that is longer than virtually every comics review I've ever written for this site, Jog casts a slightly skeptical eye on Rafael Grampá's action-horror fantasia Mesmo Delivery.

* As part of a month-long horror-movie sketchathon, my buddy Rickey Purdin has got to be fucking kidding me:


October 10, 2008

Comics Time: Travel


Yuichi Yokoyama, writer/artist
PictureBox, October 2008
202 pages
Buy it from PictureBox
Buy it from

I love traveling by train, which is good because I've done a lot of it over the years: commuting to work from Long Island to Manhattan, traveling up to college in New Haven or down to visit my then-girlfriend in Delaware. Perhaps it's just these positive associations that feed my affinity for the rails, but thinking about it, I get something out of the journey beyond the destination. A train is an interstitial space, where you can sit for hours in one spot but you're not actually anyplace, where you move but stand still, where you see parts of the landscape normally as hidden as what you see when you turn your head around on a Disney World attraction to watch the animatronics reset and redeploy for others. Trains are magical.

So is Travel, PictureBox's second release from Yuichi Yokoyama. I actually like this one better than New Engineering, much better, even. Not because New Engineering wasn't quite good, because it was--maybe just because what I saw in New Engineering was alien, while Travel, for all its hyperstylization and hilariously deadpan spectacle, is something I can point to and say, "I know this."

The idea of the book couldn't be simpler: Three guys get on a train, ride it for a while, then get off. And yes, you read that page count correctly--you're basically looking at around 180 pages of guys riding on a train. But as with Kevin Huizenga's Fight or Run, that pared-down parameter gives Yokoyama free reign to indulge in some of the most dynamically staged and inventively drawn comics you're gonna see all year. The 45 pages or so (!) the guys spend walking through the train to find a seat actually had me laughing out loud after a while, as each fellow passenger they pass looks more and more hysterically taciturn despite their outlandishly detailed clothing and hairstyles, and each attempt to squeeze through a crowded aisle or purchase something in the concession car is depicted from an angle that makes it look like something out of the Wachowski Bros.' Speed Racer. (That's a compliment.) When they finally do take their seats, we're then treated to a tour de force recreation of nearly every possible thing you can see through your window on a train--cities and fields, sun glare and rivulets of rain, parallel trains and passing traffic, our reflection in the window and our reflection in the windows of buildings outside--or inside the train car itself--other passengers walking by, clouds of smoke from cigarettes, another traveler pulling a book out of his jacket to read in a manner so dramatically presented you expect him to whip out a gun and start shooting Colin Ferguson-style.

That something so plotless can remain so gripping for so long is a testament to Yokoyama's ability to pick unexpected ways to show us everyday things, from the subtle effects of perspective and distortion he can ring out of his simple line to astute use of repetition and slight variation to convey passage through space and time. It's early yet, but I wouldn't be surprised to see this near the top of my eventual Best Comics of the Year list. I certainly look forward to rereading it on the train.

"He got sick."

One obstacle all first-person horror movies must overcome is the need to justify why somebody on the run from horrible life-threatening monsters would continue to keep the goddamn camera running. Usually the (real-world) filmmakers try to do it with two different stock responses: 1) The camera, some angry other character informs us, makes the cameraperson feel safe, removed, like this isn't real; 2) People, the cameraperson informs us, just "need to know" what happened. In both cases this usually comes across like sophomore-year media-studies bullshit (nowhere more so than George A. Romero's depressingly awful Diary of the Dead). While a particularly strong film can add emotional resonance that makes these excuses work by setting up the continued use of the camera a sort of life-preserver for characters on the verge of completely losing it (The Blair Witch Project, for example), you usually just need to think about the camera's presence the same way you think about hearing explosions in space--you suspend your disbelief in favor of the way it enhances the drama.

[REC] is different, and clever as the dickens. Our in-movie filmmakers aren't pretentious film students with Marshall McLuhan on the brain or vapid exemplars of the YouTube generation. They're journalists--puff-piece specialists, yeah, but journalists all the same. Reporter Angela and her cameraman Pablo head out on a ride-along with a couple of firemen for their Insomniac-style human-interest show, so at first their filming is justified by their jobs. Next, they end up locked in a quarantined apartment building by the authorities, despite the presence of several ill and injured people who badly need medical attention; now the filming is a matter of evidence-gathering, a public service on behalf of the frightened and ailing people in the building and a rebuke to the security and health officials who deprive them of both freedom and information. As the horrors mount and filming becomes increasingly impractical in real-world terms, the camera is used as a light source. When the light is broken, the characters navigate via its night vision. At every turn, there's a reason the camera needs to stay on.

I bring all this up because, as my wife pointed out when I described it to her, that's a lot more thought and effort on behalf of making the subgenre's central conceit work than most films of its ilk display. So good for directors Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza and their co-writer Luis Berdejo! But I also mention it because this subterranean current of logic throughout the film is key to the success of its final act, when it hits you with a tidal wave of weird for which you are almost entirely unprepared. All of a sudden, a movie that had been a pretty straightforward, well-acted, effective mash-up of Blair Witch and 28 Days Later or Zach Snyder's Dawn of the Dead takes a sharp left-turn into Creepyland, somewhere between the farmhouse in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and the collected works of Aphex Twin and Chris Cunningham. It blindsides you and discomfits you mightily, picking up on elements from throughout the entire film in terms of astutely utilizing the first-person camerawork and shoddy lighting to suggest as much as it shows, but blasting those elements right into overdrive. I've seen scarier neo-zombie movies, but in terms of sheer narrative smarts, this one's right up there.

Clips of the day

October 13, 2008

Comics Time: Or Else #5


Or Else #5
Kevin Huizenga, writer/artist
Drawn & Quarterly, October 2008
40 pages
Buy it from D&Q if they get it in stock

Or Else #5 is one of Kevin Huizenga's least showy comics in recent memory, as well as one of his most openly autobiographical; all of that is true despite it mostly being about living in a war-ravaged post-apocalyptic dystopia. The centerpiece story, "Rumbling," is based on a prose work by writer Giorgio Manganelli, and sees Huizengan everyman Glenn Ganges inserted into a Handmaid's Tale-esque scenario of warring religious factions as an ambassador from a country "where wars of religion are not waged." (Amusingly, Ganges later reveals that his homeland fights scientifically rigorous wars of atheism instead. Bill Maher Is Watching You!) I think you can see a little bit of C.F.'s Powr Mastrs (Huizenga's a fan) sneaking in here, with the strips emphasis on the lavishly constructed uniforms of the various factions' soldiery and its relatively straightforward pacing and use of genre. The autobio elements slip in through a pair of strips about animal intrusions into the Huizenga/Ganges household--first a turtle in a strip that (I think) openly stars Huizenga rather than his stand-in, then a longer strip about various spiders and wasps that have infested and done battle in Ganges's house, where the long, lighter-colored hair Ganges is sporting makes him look more like the cartoonist himself than ever. The back-cover photograph of one of the bug battles depicted in the comic adds another real-world/fiction crossover element. The package is rounded out by several strips that focus on picayune details--sentence diagramming, "How Are We Spending Our Tuesday?", the structure of a conversation between two people represented solely in gibberish, and so on--to such a degree that their meaning is all but lost, like a word repeated into incomprehensibility. Need I mention the effortless cartooning--a loosening line used to connote flashbacks, the military precision with which Huizenga uses grays? It's not the knockout blow that some previous Or Else issues have been, but as an exercise in Huizenga's trademark juxtaposition of the quotidian with the universal (and frequently the philosophically troubling), it's solid; as a unit, though, I'm not sure why it begins and ends where it does and contains what it does.

Carnival of souls

* I'd love to hear more about the specifics if only to determine how best to fight back, but this report of a man named Christopher Handley being prosecuted for the possession of obscene manga is as chilling as the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund's involvement on his behalf is welcome. Extra disturbing: Handley was literally followed home from the post office by law enforcement after picking up the books in question, which allegedly depict sexual activity involving minors. I have a pretty brightline approach to this particular area--if it's not an actual photograph it shouldn't be illegal to possess--and I hope this outlook is upheld.

* Bruce Baugh's Shift-T is a new blog dedicated to chronicling Bruce's experiences playing World of Warcraft. I've already waxed rhapsodic about why he's worth reading on this subject even if (like me) you don't play WoW--why he's worth reading if the only things you have in common with him is indulging in a hobby, any hobby, and having some desire to think about what you get out of that hobby. But if you're not sold on those high-falutin' grounds, he does post on why it's fun to go into battle with an angry gorilla by your side.

*The minicomics clearinghouse known as Global Hobo has relaunced under new management with a new blog and some of the great USS Catastrophe site's backstock. (Via Tom Spurgeon.)

* Heroes loses AICN's Hercules. This is like when Cronkite declared Vietnam unwinnable.

* My pal Rickey Purdin's Octoberfest of horror sketches is getting more and more fun:




Altcomix fans, can you identify the unfortunate soul in that last illo?

* An exclusive, limited-edition Marc Bell book? Drawn & Quarterly people, you've got my mailing address, right?

* I'm not a gamer by any stretch of the imagination, but the decidedly post-apocalyptic treatment given to Venom in the new video game Spider-Man: League of Shadows looks like imaginative fun if this trailer is any indication. It also occurs to me now that superhero-comic-based video games have been a pretty conservative lot in terms of their plotlines, as best I can tell, but the medium lends itself just as readily to more expansive, quasi-Elseworlds narratives like this one.

* ZOMG LIBRARY PR0N (via everyone):


* If you'd like to feel your own sanity slip a bit, read the repeated pleas of a U.S. military officer on behalf of a captive American citizen and "illegal enemy combatant" who literally was being driven insane by his treatment in a Navy brig in Charleston. (Via Andrew Sullivan.)

* Finally, I repeat, Chinese Fucking Democracy.

October 14, 2008

Eric Whitacre, performed by the Brigham Young University Singers - When David Heard

When David heard that Absalom was slain, he went up into his chamber over the gate and wept. And thus he said: "My son, my son, O Absalom my son, would God I had died for thee!"
This is the saddest song I've ever heard. The first time I listened to it, I sat down and cried for about ten minutes afterward. There's a moment deep into the song that you will see coming from far away and that will devastate you nonetheless; it just made me cry sitting here at my desk. Utterly, exquisitely painful and beautiful.

Carnival of souls

* Remember how the rumor that maybe Paul Andrew Williams was gonna maybe direct a maybe sequel to 28 Days/Weeks Later that was gonna maybe be called 28 Months Later was maybe debunked? The official word from 28...Later producer Andrew Macdonald is that Williams was working on a prequel, but it didn't work out, and that Days director and Weeks honcho Danny Boyle is developing an idea for a third film. Bring it on says I. Days and Weeks stand up there with Night and Dawn. (Via STYD.)

* No rumor this: Terrence Howard, whose drunken explanation of the Air Force's bond of brotherhood was just stupidly great in the original Iron Man, has been replaced by Don Cheadle for the role of James "War Machine" Rhodes in Iron Man 2, due to what sounds like a money dispute with attendant "creative differences" issues to me. On the one hand, that sucks. On the other hand, Don Cheadle!

* I've heard some good things about Quarantine, the English-language [REC] remake apparently responsible for that film's suppression on the Stateside DVD market, but Rick Trembles of Motion Picture Purgatory fame (have those things been collected anywhere?) sure wasn't crazy about it, and the way he describes it makes me wonder if it'll irk me too.

* Discovered today: the new-ish (to me, at least) blog of composer Eric Whitacre. Here he is discussing what it's like for him to watch performances of "When David Heard," the astonishing song I posted earlier today.

* Renee French posts haunting drawings on her blog every day, you know. Here's the latest:


* Since Eve Tushnet's fangirl blogging should be incentivized, here's links to her review of Cyril Pedrosa's Three Shadows and an assortment of other comics, including Joss Whedon and John Cassaday's Astonishing X-Men.

* You know what I wanna hear, right?


* Finally, new Beyoncé! <3 <3 <3 Words fail.

October 15, 2008

Comics Time: Kick-Ass #1-4


Kick-Ass #1-4
Mark Millar, writer
John Romita Jr., artist
Marvel/Icon, 2008
32 pages each
$2.99 each

The first four issues of Mark Millar's John Romita Jr.-drawn creator-owned series leave me with two dominant impressions: 1) JRJR's work is so pretty! 2) I don't think I've ever read a comic so terrified of homosexuals. It honestly could be entered into a court case as proof positive of the "gay panic" defense. Good guys, bad guys, and neutral characters alike drop homophobic epithets like they were going out of style (which they are!), and the main character spends about twice as much page time tearing himself up for allowing the girl he likes to believe he's gay than he does recovering from watching people get horribly slaughtered in front of him. So far no actual homosexuals have been sexually assaulted or murdered, which in a Mark Millar comic is saying something, but the uptick in "black characters used as cannon fodder" is significant even in Millar's racially dubious oeuvre, so it's sort of a wash.

The story is actually a comparatively subdued variation on Millar's standard routine of adding ultraviolence and a few nods at "realism" to the superhero genre (cf. Ultimates, Wanted, The Authority, War Heroes). This time out, a middle-school (I think) loser, baffled that no one in the world has ever thrown on a mask and costume and gone out to fight crime, up and does so. The gimmick is that when he does so, he gets his ass kicked in spectacularly bloody fashion, over and over, even when he comes out the victor. That's kind of a funny idea, and Millar (relatively speaking) undersells it, eschewing his usual trick of having the characters tell the reader exactly how awesome they are and dialing the braggadocio down to believably adolescent-male levels.

What it's mainly good for is allowing Romita to cut lose with all his quirks: wrinkly clothes and finely delineated hair, fights that are a ballet of blocky bodies twisting through the air and torrents of blood gushing like one of those fancy fountains that can spell out words and make pictures of dolphins in whatnot that they have in Asian commerce centers, cute little details (a t-shirt reading "WHATEVER IT IS, AMAGANSETT"--a pop-culture gag whose idiosyncracy stands out in a comic written by a guy who's still doing Paris Hilton references). Dean White, the sensational colorist find of the past couple years, gives JRJR's art a milky warmth unique enough to actually say something about the spectacular art it's supporting. By the time the ten-year-old little-girl ninja shows up and starts slicing up gangstas while calling them "cunts" you realize what a waste of Romita's capital-A Art it all is, but only homos would complain, and you're not a homo, right?

October 16, 2008

Give John McCain a break.

People are making fun of how he looks in this picture:


But clearly he's just in the middle of doing the Ed Lover Dance:

Carnival of souls

* From now on, writing about Matt Furie's brilliantly funny Boy's Club guarantees you a top slot in the Carnival of Souls. Our first recipient of said largesse: Tom Spurgeon.

* Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal, the basis for Robert DeNiro's character Sam "Ace" Rothstein in my favorite Martin Scorsese film Casino, has died. Is this one of the all-time great mobster photos or what?


* The final section of the final season of Battlestar Galactica debuts on January 16th. (Via Whitney Matheson.)

* The adaptation of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips's Sleeper has a writer and the adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's The Road has a (maybe majorly) delayed release date.

* In praising the apparently simple pleasures of Quarantine, Horror Hacker's Grady Hendrix manages to articulate a problem I had with the film it's based on, [REC], that I hadn't been able to put my finger on until now:

The original Rec was a low budget affair with one single goal: To make the audience jump. And it worked; it's a movie that has you springing out of your seat like a Mexican jumping bean.
That was the goal alright, and it definitely worked. I'm not convinced there's any more to it than that, I guess.

* Also at Horror Hacker, Charles Burns talks about the animated horror-anthology feature Fear(s) of the Dark and David Fincher's upcoming adaptation of Black Hole, which it doesn't sound like Neil Gaiman is writing anymore. I have to say, gorgeous as Burns's art is, I don't want to see a Sin City style digital recreation of it onscreen for the Black Hole movie. That's a story that can and should stand on its own through a translated tone, not panel-by-panel recreations. (Via Jason Adams.)

* Not Coming to a Theater Near You's Rumsey Taylor on the genius of Jaws.

* Jog reviews Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo's Joker graphic novel. Leaching the subversive, camp, performative aspects out of the Joker and just making him a torture-porn tough guy with a fucked-up face starring in a macho crime caper seems singularly unappealing to me, but maybe I'm missing something?

* Here's a good-lookin' trailer for the good-lookin' vampire film Let the Right One In.

* He's the one-man army, Ason: an enterprising World of Warcraft player plays 36 separate accounts at once so that he can go on raids all by himself. I hope he kicks ass. (Via Topless Robot.)

* Rickey Purdin's daily horror drawings: still killin' it.



* Monster Brains presents a demonic Swipe File--if you like this, wait till you get a load of the paintings it was copied from...


* Meat is torture.

* Torture of the human variety has the Presidential seal of approval.

* Finally (via Pitchfork), I say again, Chinese Fucking Democracy.

October 17, 2008

Comics Time: Fight or Run: Shadow of the Chopper


Fight or Run: Shadow of the Chopper
Kevin Huizenga, writer/artist
Buenaventura Press, October 2008
32 pages
Buy it from Buenaventura, I'll bet

Anyone who read Kevin Huizenga's hilariously accurate description of the plot of a made-up video game in Ganges #2 knew he'd have a heckuva video game comic in him somewhere, and Fight or Run is that comic. The structure, which we've seen him take stabs at a few times in the past, is simple: Two little dudes from a selection of about two-dozen entertainingly designed and named characters--a flying Illuminati eye-in-pyramid named Pronouncement, a little Pac-Man ghost/blob hybrid named Bernini, a guy with a hand for a head named Hander, etc.--face off, one of the critters decides whether to Fight or Run, and it's game time! The appeal of this comic lies in how Huizenga recognizes that the comfortingly familiar and repetitive parametric structure of video games and works based on them--beat this guy, acquire that object, solve a puzzle, beat a level, repeat--enables visual and logical flights of fancy that would make a blockbuster all-ages starter game like (say) Super Mario Bros. look like a work of ostentatious avant-gardism in any other narrative medium. So here, Huizenga again gets to indulge his inner Powr Mastrs superfan with those character names and designs, while devising increasingly baroque and entertaining ways for the characters to battle, to the point where it's (duh) much less about the fighting and much more about the fun things you can do with lines on paper, paring certain elements back as far as they can go: a Duck vs. Rabbit fight in which the two characters are distinguishable only by where the handful of lines that connote their beak and/or ears fall on their round, one-eyed heads; a logic diagram that shows the Fight or Run concept, for all its internal variations, has only six possible outcomes. Of course, you can then also ring humor out of unexpected variations on these very simple constituent parts, like Huizenga does with McSkulls, a female fighter who beats her opponents by doing girly things like beating them with her purse, hitting them with a rainbow, riding away on a unicorn or a dolphin, or going out with them and then dumping them (the only time a <3 is used in lieu of an F or an R to connote the choice made by the combatants). There's also something being said here about the folly of ambition in the person of Chopper, the character who participates in the greatest number of F/R contests. He tends to lose because of trying to hard to win in showy ways, like self-dividing until he collapses or skating away on replicas of his own head that are easily transmogrified into giant eyeballs by his ocularly-themed opponent. In the final strip, Chopper runs from the sinister Kid Torcher (aka Kid President, aka Kidder/Torturer (so dubbed in front of an American flag background, no less (I think you get the drift))) and ends up winning his fight only by living his entire life and then dying of what must in the Fight or Run world be natural causes. I'd read an entire collection of comics this deceptively simple and sharp if I could.


A new, Octoberrific Manly Movie Mamajama!


37. The Lost Boys
38. Slumber Party Massacre II
39. Dead Alive

October 18, 2008

Carnival of souls: special "perfunctory movie updates" version

* It's quasi-official: The Road has most likely been moved to 2009, which will take it out of the Oscar running and deny it the attendant exposure and revenue.

* The new He-Man/Masters of the Universe movie has been scrapped by Warner Bros. due to personnel shuffling and an inability to find an A-list director willing to take on the project. (Via Beaks at AICN, who seems a lot more skeptical about the supposedly awesome screenplay than others have been, which makes me feel not so bad about this turn of events.)

* The latest Clive Barker Books of Blood adaptation Dread has been casting people and is now shooting.

* Speaking of Barker, the Hellraiser remake might have a new director--Pascal Laugier.

* The Zach Snyder-supervised blockbuster-scale zombie movie Army of the Dead is, um, well, I'm not sure. I guess the point is that it's still a going concern.

* Despite a post-pilot-episode level of involvement with the show that does not appear to exceed watching the program on his TiVo, Lost co-creator/absentee parent J.J. Abrams is now talking about the possibility of a Lost theatrical movie enabled by the series' firmly set endpoint, though he does dismiss it as a remote one.

* Nerd-movie hack Paul W.S. Anderson is doing a remake of The Long Good Friday set in Miami, for God's sake. (Via Dread Central.)

* Grant Morrison talks about his screenplay for the video game adaptation Area 51.

* Here's a list of theaters and release dates for the limited release of Let the Right One In.

* Missed this when it was first posted because NeilAlien's syndication feed takes weeks before updating, but I rather like how the ur-comics blogger characterizes M. Night Shyamalan's recently expressed desire to finally do an Unbreakable sequel.

Neilalien's a big fan of the film- but for the director who once thought that Unbreakable was taking "so many incredible risks", this sounds like a bad-idea grasp for safety and former glory after a string of bombs.
* My brother in themed-sketchbook arms, Fantagraphics' Mike Baehr, talks to about his enormously impressive Yoda sketchbook.

* Hubba hubba part one: Dave Kiersh!


* Hubba hubba part two: Jaime Hernandez! For a good cause!


October 19, 2008

Johnny's an American

Johnny wants the David Bowie Sketchbook!

My Bowie book and I attended the Small Press Expo a few weekends ago with visions of Ben Katchor and Joost Swarte dancing in our heads. Alas, they go into the "ones that got away" file, but I was really pleased with the sketches I ended up scoring...

Nate Powell: I really like the idea of Bowie's singing radiating outward from his mouth like a mutant's sonic superpower or something.

Tom Scioli: As the artist of Godland and The Myth of 8-Opus, Tom is really the first full-time superhero artist from whom I've gotten a Bowie sketch. The best part? When I asked him about it, he actually said "I've always wanted to draw David Bowie but the opportunity never presented itself." Yes, sadly, Bowie is not ACTUALLY a Kirbyesque cosmic entity, though he plays one on stage.

Lilli Carré: Lilli was maybe the most relentlessly (and needlessly) self-effacing artist in my Bowie sketchbook to date, as you can see from the disclaimer she felt it necessary to include. But gosh, look at that hair! She's my favorite hair artist in comics.

Lauren Weinstein: Lauren was super gung-ho about drawing Bowie, and about the drawing she eventually came up with in particular. "This is the best thing I've ever drawn," she insisted. "No, really, this is the best thing I've ever drawn."

Matt Wiegle: The "I'm Afraid of Americans" video comes to life! I've known Matt for a long time so maybe he recalled that I've been a huge Nine Inch Nails fan for a long time, and that in fact it was Trent Reznor's enthusiasm for David Bowie that got me to buy my first Bowie record, Earthling, back in college. Or maybe he's just awesome.

Dustin Harbin: Dustin seemed to treat drawing in the Bowie sketchbook like some kind of honor. I think he lived up to it!

Jim Rugg: Jim was maybe the most in-demand artist at the show--when I initially approached him to do a Bowie sketch he had a queue of three other sketchbooks to go through first--and I'm really grateful he took the time for me. The most androgynous and sexy Bowie yet? And yet another appearance of the ever-popular "pirate Bowie" look, which actual Bowie sported during a grand total of ONE photo session. (He had pinkeye or something.) I've since discovered that much of the Bowie-centric episode of Flight of the Conchords revolves around Bowie's enthusiasm for eyepatch use, so maybe that explains it.


Past installments of the Bowie sketchbook can be found here, here, here, and here. View the whole shebang as a Flickr set here.

October 20, 2008

Comics Time: Action Comics #870


Action Comics #870
Geoff Johns, writer
Gary Frank, artist
DC Comics, October 2008
32 pages

This issue got a lot of attention for (to paraphrase the advertising cliché) killing Pa Kent again, for the first time. I suppose that's notable, but the Kents were one part of the Superman mythos I never really saw as integral to the whole once they took li'l Kal-El out of the rocketship. (For me the much bigger change to the Superman gestalt came earlier in the arc, when Brainiac revealed that Krypton's destruction was his doing.) What I took from this issue instead is further appreciation for Geoff Johns's growth as a writer, and further reinforcement that that growth has been spurred by his close working relationship with Grant Morrison. The multi-page sequence that leads up to Pa Kent's death is largely silent and rapidly edited, as we follow the separate, desperate actions of Pa, Ma, Superman, Supergirl, Brainiac, Lois Lane, the staff of the Daily Planet, and Brainiac's missiles, one after the other. It's the kind of disorienting juxtaposition you find throughout contemporary Morrisonia, if not quite pared down to his level of contextual minimalism (or reliant on his seemingly boundless faith in the intelligence of his audience) then certainly more daring and less ham-fisted than what you'd see in a comparable scene by the vast majority of other popular superhero writers today. The effect both ratchets up the thrill level and heightens the emotional impact--we know we're seeing something important, but we're also seeing something exciting. In the context of a superhero comic, it's basically how death should be done: not by playing to the rafters or the gutters, but by trying to make it pop as brightly as anything else in a superhero comic, if to different effect. In this sense Gary Frank is just the artist for this gig--a kindred spirit to Frank Quitely, replacing Quitely's Euroisms with a bug-eyed, held-in ferocity that suggests American superhero artists gone slightly psychotic. If you enjoy Superman, this is a run I recommend.

Carnival of souls

* I'm pleased to live up to my recent promise to put anything Boy's Club above the fold by linking to Top Shelf co-honcho Brett Warnock's enthusiastic review of Matt Furie's wondrously funny comic.

* My pal TJ Dietsch provides a peek behind the curtain at our latest Manly Movie Mamajama. If anything I think he undersells how bad Slumber Party Massacre 2 was. Even in pure T&A and gore terms! I'm thinking we should have gone with the first in the series, which seemed to beat its successor out in the former category if Google Images is any indication. But then again, people could have just listened to me and thrown in Body Double...

* Terrence Howard's expulsion from the warm bosom of Iron Man 2 in favor of Don Cheadle the other day was apparently news to Terrence Howard. It is also neither confirmed nor disconfirmed by Brandt Marvel Studios' Kevin Feige.

* CRwM reviews An American Crime, a film I have a hard time even thinking about watching.

* The Spurge kinda dug the Speed Racer.

* I did not see the end of Becky Cloonan's team-up with Vladimir Putin coming.

October 21, 2008

Carnival of souls

* This long interview with the great Charles Burns promoting his contribution to the animated horror-anthology film Fear(s) of the Dark is full of fascinating bits--Burns comparing the narrative economies of film and comics, discussing the difficulties of translating two-dimensional comics to the three-dimensional Dog Boy shorts, revealing that his next project "deals with William Burroughs," and confirming that Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary are no longer the writers for David Fincher's Black Hole adaptation. Gaiman gives his side of the story here.

* Here is a two-part (so far) interview with Hobbit director and co-writer Guillermo Del Toro. It's no secret that I've been pretty underwhelmed with the Del Toro I've seen so far, but reading him describe his work process with Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, and Philippa Boyens makes me excited about the possibilities for the Hobbit films for the first time in a long time. He also talks about the challenge of differentiating the 13 Dwarves without it being a "the fat one/the skinny one/the blonde one/the one with glasses/the stupid one"-type deal, and compares Smaug to Tony Montana. I guess I've got to start reading again, huh? Takin' it back to 2000. (Via Heidi MacDonald.)

* The new Yale University Press-published Ivan Brunetti-edited An Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons, and True Stories Vol. 2 comes out today, and the story selection is full of some real all-time greats. Here's a video Yale put together in which Brunetti explains his process for assembling the collection.

Ivan Brunetti on An Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Vol. 2 from Yale University Press on Vimeo.

* They're making a movie out of Chuck Palahniuk's uneven horror novel/short-story-collection hybrid Haunted. It sounds like they're focusing on the framing device, which would have worked as its own short story a lot better than it did as ersatz and unrealistic glue for a bunch of unrelated scary stories. (Via every horror blog.)

* So I guess Daniel Craig turned down the starring role in Thor. Woulda been nice--the guy looks like a Nordic nightmare. Fun fact: The Missus just does not see the appeal in Mr. Craig. Meanwhile I'm practically attracted to him. (Via Splash Page.)

* Speaking of missed opportunities, J.G. Jones is officially off the final issue of Grant Morrison's Final Crisis, replaced by Doug Mahnke, who I honestly think would have been better for the project overall. It's a shame that this kind of meta-story is going to obscure the fact that Final Crisis is a much more compelling comic than Secret Invasion, but maybe quality will out in the long run, I dunno.

* The Dowdle Bros., co-directors of the first-person zombie film/[REC] remake Quarantine and the first-person serial-killer/torture porn film The Poughkeepsie Tapes (did that ever actually get released?) have signed on to be part of some sort of M. Night Shyamalan-produced thriller trilogy with the characteristically humble title of The Night Chronicles. I don't know what to make of this at all.

* Quote of the day:

--Chris Butcher

* A long, long, long time ago, on Matt Wiegle's drawing table...


* I thought this line in Tom Spurgeon's review of Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo's Joker was particularly brutal, and not just (not even primarily) regarding that specific book:

I'm not sure there were themes available to anyone that hadn't already bought in to the basic set-up of Batman comic books, the endless battle between this set of things over here that Batman represents and that list of things over there embodied in the Joker.
Ouch. I think there's a tendency among superhero writers and fans to oversell the Meaning of each hero and villain at the expense of crafting compelling stories involving them. Obviously this was pointed out by many critics of The Dark Knight (wherein it actually didn't bother me all that much), but imagine if the next time the Joker's a big villain in a Batman storyline, neither character articulates his view of the meaning or meaninglessness of life in the process of trying to beat each other up, shoehorning complex ideas into pretty rough metaphorical frameworks (and I say that as someone who thinks Batman and the Joker are the two best characters in superhero comics). I think I might be more interested in that kind of Batman storyline, simply because I'll feel like more of the work is being left for me to do. After all, people puzzled this stuff out regarding the characters based on literally decades of comics where that kind of thing didn't happen at all.

* Finally, I have a new hero: this wild-man hedge fund manager who made a fortune betting against the economic collapse, quit, and published this in his farewell letter:

Lastly, while I still have an audience, I would like to bring attention to an alternative food and energy source. You won’t see it included in BP’s, “Feel good. We are working on sustainable solutions,” television commercials, nor is it mentioned in ADM’s similar commercials. But hemp has been used for at least 5,000 years for cloth and food, as well as just about everything that is produced from petroleum products. Hemp is not marijuana and vice versa. Hemp is the male plant and it grows like a weed, hence the slang term. The original American flag was made of hemp fiber and our Constitution was printed on paper made of hemp. It was used as recently as World War II by the U.S. Government, and then promptly made illegal after the war was won. At a time when rhetoric is flying about becoming more self-sufficient in terms of energy, why is it illegal to grow this plant in this country? Ah, the female.

The evil female plant – marijuana. It gets you high, it makes you laugh, it does not produce a hangover. Unlike alcohol, it does not result in bar fights or wife beating. So, why is this innocuous plant illegal? Is it a gateway drug? No, that would be alcohol, which is so heavily advertised in this country. My only conclusion as to why it is illegal, is that Corporate America, which owns Congress, would rather sell you Paxil, Zoloft, Xanax and other additive drugs, than allow you to grow a plant in your home without some of the profits going into their coffers. This policy is ludicrous. It has surely contributed to our dependency on foreign energy sources. Our policies have other countries literally laughing at our stupidity, most notably Canada, as well as several European nations (both Eastern and Western). You would not know this by paying attention to U.S. media sources though, as they tend not to elaborate on who is laughing at the United States this week.

It is simply insane that on my way home tonight I can legally buy a 24-pack of Schlitz but not a nickel bag of weed. Absolutely insane. My worst experience with booze was blacking out for a couple of hours and was eventually being found curled around a toilet on the floor of a dormitory bathroom by someone who'd waited in a five-person deep line to use it, then having to schelp to class the next day and leaving in the middle to shoot out both ends for half an hour. By contrast worst experience with pot was freaking out a bit while smoking half a J and watching an interview with Genesis P-Orridge and Robert Anton Wilson. Feeling good is very, very dangerous in a lot of people's eyes, and for them, the ability to experience a consequence-free high of any kind--chemical, sexual, physical, mental, emotional, spiritual--must be stamped out at all costs. Fuck those people. Fuck Anti-Life. (Via every political blog.)

October 22, 2008

Comics Time: The Goddess of War, Volume One


The Goddess of War, Volume One
Lauren R. Weinstein, writer/artist
PictureBox, June 2008
30 pages
$12.95 (they're pretty big pages, to be fair)
Buy it from PictureBox
Buy it from

The nice thing about The Goddess of War is that it feels very comic-booky. For one thing, the subject matter is a little purple--it's about a valkyrie who was so good at her job that she was made the Goddess of War for all humanity, and when she's not busy heeding the prayers of the violent and deranged and helping mankind reach ever higher and bloodier levels of slaughter, she's getting drunk off the blood of virgins, mouthing off to her celestial overlords, or having sex with the famed Apache warlord Cochise, whose tragedy-of-errors war with American frontiersmen occupies about half the book. The stereotypical "New Yorker short story" it isn't.

Then there's the presentation, hefty 10" x 15.5" pages filled to bursting with Weinstein's muscular character designs and rough-hewn line. Weinstein's panel borders frequently slash upward or downward across the page, reinforcing the sense that there's a massive expanse of comics in front of us and she's filling every inch of it. And there's something pulpy about the drab greens she's using for color. Even when she pauses for several 19th-century-style illustrative etchings, the intensity and starkness of their comparatively fine linework just makes you think of an artist marking the hell out of a page. It's like the whole comic rolls up its sleeves and gets down and dirty. That price point could still be daunting, of course, especially when you note that this is only "Volume One" of an I don't know how long series, but I for one didn't feel gypped--you've got fantasy, science fiction, erotica, history, war, humor, and drunk-hipster comics all in one big throbbing package.

Carnival of souls

* The latest Comics Comics Cage Match is up, in which Frank Santoro, Dan Nadel, and Tim Hodler slug it out over David Heatley's My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down. (Dan and Tim are for it, Frank is agin it.) The comment thread features guest appearances by Tom Spurgeon, Dash Shaw, Heidi MacDonald, and yours truly, wherein I say the following:

I haven't taken a look at my copy of the collection yet, though I was kind of gobsmacked to find out about the censoring of "My Sex History." It seemed to me that the whole point of that strip was to be completely un-censored. It's the sexual autobio equivalent of a real splatterfest like Dead Alive, where the constant, vulgar spectacle of it all takes a Louisville Slugger to your brain until it's beaten into a new way of reacting to what you're seeing. The over-the-top-ness is the point. Isn't it?
I should also add that I always wished he didn't label his dream comics as "dream comics." They'd be much more interesting without that disclaimer.

* There's a new Watchmen poster and a new Watchmen trailer. I will probably enjoy this film.


* Mikey Way gets it. And yes, I know it's annoying when people put it that way.

* Runaways like Goonies for the superhero-movie era? Sure, I'll eat it. There's no reason why Nico or Gert or Karolena can't be some kid's first crush object a la my imaginary relationship with Andy. The Scott Pilgrim movie will probably blow this door open anyways.

* My experience with Friday the 13th is entirely limited to watching the "all the kills" montage, so I'm not attuned to whether the upcoming remake/reboot/reimagining/rewhatever whose trailer you can see here represents an affront to the original the way the Texas Chainsaw and Halloween remakes seemed to. Not an affront, that's not the right word--just a needless modernization, I suppose. This appears to be shot in that same dreary hyperrealist style, to swipe an adjective from CRwM, but I don't see why you can't use a franchise whose only goal was to provide jumpscares and the dubious pleasures of gore and T&A and hypocritical moralism to do all of that over again but with the tools of the modern filmmaker at your disposal. (I think most of the other iconic horror films that have been remade thus far had a lot more going on that the Jason movies, you know?)

October 23, 2008

Carnival of souls

* There's a teaser trailer for Lost season five popping up here and there around the Internet. But ABC seems intent on preventing people from seeing it, since heaven forbid, so I don't much feel like tracking it down. I did manage to watch it, though--would you believe it's cryptic?

* Like I always say, I may not know World of Warcraft, but I know what I like, and a zombie epidemic that turns players' characters into the undead--oh baby, that's'a what I like!

* So excited for Fantagraphics' book of VHS box art Portable Grindhouse. Get crackin', Covey!


* Watching the full-fledged official teaser trailer (if a teaser can be called full-fledged) for the Friday the 13th remake, I'm definitely thinking this could be fun. I mean, it's just a giant killing machine in a hockey mask--there's no risk of dumbing that down, right? In fact, of the Michael/Freddy/Jason troika, I think the Jason concept is the best: like an armed, rampaging Frankenstein monster without the redeeming qualities. That's tough to get wrong. (Note to self: Jason vs. Rambo?) And lo and behold, no wonder it looks so much like that Texas Chainsaw remake--they're both directed by Marcus Nispel. (Via STYD.)

* Looks like The Madonna will be the next "Film of Blood" Clive Barker adaptation, after Dread (which is after Midnight Meat Train) and before Pig Blood Blues.

* My old Wizard compadre Alex Kropinak joins the Rowdy Schoolyard sketchblog with this. The creep can roll. Who knew?


October 24, 2008

Comics Time: Cold Heat Special #8

Cold Heat Special #8
Frank Santoro & Lane Milburn, writers/artists
PictureBox, October 2008
12 pages
I don't remember how much it cost
Buy it from PictureBox one day

As an object, the eighth* Cold Heat Special is I think the best-looking one yet. The vivid blue/pink/yellow screenprinted cover, with its slightly metal Cold Heat logo and geometric designs, was a real eye-catcher on the SPX show floor, and that's saying something given the visual cacophony of the place. I enjoyed the story, such as it is, as well--as in previous CH Specials, our teenage leading lady Castle faces a frightening challenge, this time a pretty scary-looking bird-man who attacks her at sea. She manages to beat the beast, scoffing at him in retrospect while brushing her teeth in her underwear within the safety of her bathroom. But then some sort of incubus assaults her, leading to a bout of passion that Castle soon discovers was all in her head--she's adrift and nearly drowning in the ocean we spotted her on in the beginning, and it takes all she can muster to drag herself to shore, shivering and alone. It's all in the way you tell it, and if you've been following Frank Santoro's work you know how good he is with layouts, picking just the right moment to show to convey the violence, rapture, and terror of whatever's going on (it's a little like All Star Superman in that regard); Milburn, meanwhile, is aces with monsters, imbuing them with a convincing, stocky physicality that also lends itself well to believable sex scenes. The combination of the two artists is memorable, and makes me wonder where the parallel (though disjointed) Cold Heat story being told through the Specials will head next.

* Actually, the 6th and 7th never came out, and The Chunky Gnars is kind of like Cold Heat Special #0.

Gotta make way for the Homo Superior


Yes we can. (Via Rob Bricken)

Carnival of souls

* Top Shelf is prepping a 400-page alternative manga anthology. Oh boy! (Via Tom Spurgeon.)

* A team-up for the ages, courtesy of Jim Rugg and Copacetic Comics:


(Via JK Parkin.)

* The great Rich Juzwiak of FourFour sounds off on the Saw pandemic.

* Michael Koresky of Reverse Shot makes me even more anxious to see Fear(s) of the Dark and even more grumpy that I inevitably won't do so while it's in theaters.

* Reading the critical tea leaves, Marc-Oliver Frisch argues (twice) that much of the blame for Clint Eastwood's poorly reviewed bit of Angelina Jolie Oscar bait Changeling lies with screenwriter and Spider-Man soiler J. Michael Straczynski. The insertion of a "MILF avatar" concept into the based-on-a-true-story tale was a dead giveaway.

* Your quote of the day comes from Ms. Bai Ling, in a post titled "I landed from the moon to seduce you......":

Check out on IMDB now, enter my site headline on "Crank 2" news, they use my pictures there to promote the film, but the truth is my character she is so silly and stupid but at the same time she is so brilliantly sucking fantastic, she will make you laugh your nipples out so hard that you will ended up cry for 7days and 7 hours and 7 second......all year long and then you will forget all your misery then you will become her or me, then you will have a fantastic life from that point on, all you have to do is just to dance and laugh and showing your nipples and give joy to others, isn't it our duty in life on earth just to give and make others happy? I am delightful to be that role and to be in service for you.......
Delightful indeed, Bai Ling. Delightful indeed.

October 27, 2008

Comics Time: Daybreak Episode Three

Daybreak Episode Three
Brian Ralph, writer/artist
Bodega Distribution, October 2008
52 pages
Buy it from Bodega, eventually

The third and (for the moment) concluding volume of Brian Ralph's unique, first-person post-apocalyptic zombie comic, Daybreak Episode Three is the series' most Romero-indebted installment so far. Mad survivors desperately clinging to the literally decomposing remnants of their former life, elegiac post-bite journeys into that good night, "the humans are the real monsters"--this one hits all the classic grace notes, and in specific fashions that bring to mind not just Uncle George's genre ur-texts but also the series most responsible for reviving its fortunes in comics, Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead. What keeps Daybreak from feeling even remotely by-the-numbers even so is Ralph's joyous, textured cartooning, which lends every actor and environment the same ramshackle, palpable look and feel as his breakthrough caveman adventure Cave-In. You're simply not going to sit there and sigh "I've seen this before," even if technically you have, in the face of comics this fluid and thoughtfully designed. Just take the character designs as a for-instance: Their cutesy kids'-comics faces and bodies are varyingly employed to make their savage actions all the more disturbing and their sad fates all the more affecting. Placing them in a world as far gone past the point of no return as any this side of The Road is ironically rather fitting, since it suggests a frivolity to their struggles echoed in their just-for-fun appearances. You'll want things to work out, especially after reading that delightful final page, but you won't be holding your breath; maintaining that balance between bleakness and simple enjoyment of first-person-shooter shenanigans is quite an achievement.

Carnival of souls

* Terrible, hard-hitting news from The House Next Door: Longtime House contributor and fine film and television critic Andrew Johnston has died from cancer at the too young age of 40. My absolute best to those who cared about him.

* I think Brian Hibbs's apples-to-apples comparison of the competing superhero event series Secret Invasion (Marvel) and Final Crisis (DC) is a pretty even-handed look at what's up with the two books (even though I'm more of a fan of Final Crisis as a work than Hibbs is). It's noteworthy that the problems he has with Secret Invasion are all intrinsic to the book itself while the problems with Final Crisis have nothing to do with the actual series and everything to do with how it's been situated in relation to the rest of the titles in the line by DC. It's also interesting to see another voice in favor of Brian Michael Bendis's SI tie-in work in New Avengers and Mighty Avengers versus the comparatively lackluster Bendis-penned SI itself.

* This Entertainment Weekly list of the 20 Scariest Movies was rock solid. And yet I'm going to list enough "hmm, how about that"s that it's going to look like I don't like it, even though I do. Notes:

1) I could quibble with films like The Omen and Poltergeist, which have two or three terrifying moments surrounded by incoherent and derivative silliness.

2) No Blair Witch Project. That film is well on its way to critical reclamation but in terms of general-interest publications it seems it's not quite there yet.

3) Looks like Shyamalan has fallen far enough out of favor that The Sixth Sense, the highest grossing horror movie ever, doesn't even rate anymore.

4) No Saw or Hostel--torture porn of whatever stripe is out.

5) No foreign-language films.

6) Nothing older than Psycho, but I'm fine with that. If I'm being honest with myself, I don't find anything pre-Psycho genuinely frightening.

7) No The Descent. I thought that one might sneak in there.

8) Everything is pretty clearly a horror film. No David Lynch, no David Cronenberg, no curveballs like Un Chien Andalou or A Clockwork Orange or something like that.

9) I suppose the one obvious omission I can't really understand is Alien.

10) I think that generally, these kinds of lists ought to consist of the canonical scary movies and this one does. I'd happily hand it to someone who asks "What are some scary movies I should see?"

* Quote of the day:

Is it just me or does it feel like we're going through a slight FRIDAY THE 13TH craze? Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with that at all. Actually I'm loving it. The new trailer hit the other day and it seems like every horror fan out there is talking about it. It's not too often you see a teaser trailer get people talking like this one has.
--Jared Pacheco, Arrow in the Head. I certainly didn't expect to be talking about it, that's for sure.

* Gorilla vs. zombies. Thank you, World of Warcraft.

* Bruce Baugh advances several explanations for why online fandom is primarily a culture of complaint.

* No shortage of real-world horror stories today: the story of the slaying of Jennifer Hudson's family grows ever more heartrendingly awful; what the Barack Obama assassination/anti-black killing spree plotters lacked in smarts and realistic expectations they made up for in gruesome imagination; and unknown assailants grabbed an Afghan farmer and gouged out his eyes in front of his family.


* Lane Milburn posts some images from Cold Heat Special #8.



* Matt Maxwell's horror-Western comic Strangeways begins its serialization at Blog@Newsarama today. Neat.

* I'm still somewhat shaken from writing about all those terrible crimes. But even so, what am I, not going to post the picture of the slave Leia metal-bikini pillowfight? (Via Topless Robot.)


* Finally, good luck and good vibes to Steve Blackwell, Wizard's longtime creative director and a really kind-hearted guy who is the latest casualty of the company's long-running bloodbath. The day I was let go with two designers, Steve was visibly shaken by it, and his emotion and kindness that day meant so much to me. Every time a new issue of All Star Batman & Robin came out, I spent the day anxiously awaiting the moment he'd show up at my desk, so full of fury at my wrongness in loving it that he had a hard time getting going--but believe me, he would. I missed him when I wasn't working there and I bet the company, which by my count has seen the loss of 26 of 43 full-time creative employees since mid-2007, will miss him too.

October 28, 2008

Carnival of souls

* Hot-cha! One of my favorite bloggers, Sean of Strange Ink, has returned to blogging.

* Ex-Wizardite-turned-nerd-blogger FIGHT! Wiz refugee Rob Bricken at Topless Robot calls out MTV's Splash Page, administered by Wiz refugees Casey Seijas and Rick Marshall--swell fellas, all three--over rumormongering. Unlike the welcome demise of Fred Pierce, this is one thing we can't all agree on I suppose. I'll be over here with my popcorn.

* UPDATE: Rick Marshall replies with customary tact and restraint. (I kid because I love!)

* Two from Tor, part one: Heather Massey pitches Charles Burns's exquisite teen erotic/horror graphic novel Black Hole to the sci-fi masses.

* Two from Tor, part two: Torie Atkinson takes us inside the mind of a World of Warcraft character facing down the zombie apocalypse. Meanwhile, in the comment thread, Bruce Baugh dissents on grounds that make a lot of sense if you're coming from where Bruce is coming from regarding why games are played. From my outsider's perspective, however, unpredictable awfulness should be as much of a factor in an RPG like this as it is in the real world--perhaps moreso, given that the real world isn't in imminent danger of demonic invasion (spiritual warfare adherents excepted).

* Rick Trembles' Motion Picture Purgatory comic review of Dawn of the Dead is (amusingly) much more review than comic. I appreciate the emphasis he places on the casting of the film and how nearly everything everyone remembers about the movie arises quite naturally from the characters and their situation.

* Fangoria interviews artist Dominic Harman about the set of new covers he's created for Clive Barker's books. The unused samples on display are a little too horror-y for my taste; I very much liked the editions that used relevant snippets from preexisting paintings.

* I have this same problem anytime I read about My Bloody Valentine, too. Only I tend to go "BOPBOPBOPBOP BRRRRREEEEEEEOOOOO BRRRRRREEEEEEEEEEEOOOOWWWW BRRRRREEEEEEEEOOOOO BRRRREEEEEEEEEEEOOOOOOWWWWWW." The difference is negligible.

October 29, 2008

Comics Time: The Mage's Tower


The Mage's Tower
Lane Milburn, writer/artist
Closed Caption Comics, 2008
28 pages
Buy it from Atomic Books

Horror comedies are often neither all that horrific nor all that comedic—and that's just at the movies. "Funny" "horror" comics, the kinds of things that fill out the Previews section of many an Image Comics wannabe, are frequently among the most aggressively useless books on the stands. So The Mage's Tower is sort of like rooting through your junk drawer and finding fifteen grand in crisp hundred-dollar bills. Lane Milburn not only has killer comedic timing, he also has great horrific timing, which is essentially the same thing--knowing just when to deploy a certain image to maximize its impact--but done in the service of the bizarre and disturbing.

This lovely-looking screen-printed minicomic contains three stories rooted in Milburn's customary Black Sabbathy monsters and demons idiom. "Lugubrious Dunes" centers on the slacker son in a family of grotesques who embarks on a quest to kill some Gamorrean Guard types and get it on with a princess who has the head of a lizard--but it turns out this is all a fantasy, soon interrupted by his haranguing mother, who summons the kid to a "family dance meeting" that's as ridiculous as it sounds. "Fisticuffs" is a page of just that, starring two creepy brutes with amusingly incongruous, slender swan heads as they duke it out in a fight that ends as rapidly as the one where Kimbo Slice got his ass handed to him in 20 seconds.

The third, final, centerpiece story, the one that really impresses you with the ingenuity of its concept and freshness of its execution, is "The Mage's Tour." The play-on-words in the title of the story compared to the title of the comic itself is really the big reveal--we follow two hooded and cloaked beings on what looks like an attempt to storm a villain's fortress, but that fortress turns out to have been turned into a modern-day tourist trap by said villain, which is what the heroes have come to put a stop to. As the comic plays out, the battle between our heroes and the apostate they've come to thwart is intercut with reactions from a tour group who think it's all part of the act. So as Milburn's greasy line presents us with increasingly dynamic action and monstrous effects--like Mat Brinkman prints at their most heavy-metal--we keep getting the occasional cutaway to a guy trying to teach his wife how to use the cameraphone to take pictures of the battle and things like that. ("And then I download it?" "Umm...what do you mean?" It's like a cameo from my mom!) There's even a laugh-out-loud punchline that gets its own three-color splash page at the end of the book.

This cat's good. Keep a close eye on him.

Carnival of souls

* Mind-melting stuff in Bookslut's interview with the great cartoonist Phoebe Gloeckner regarding her contribution to Mia Kirshner's project I Live Here. I'm just quoting it at length.

Well. A few weeks before I left for Mexico, I was hired to illustrate a book called The Many Joys of Sex Toys (by Anne Semans). I remember receiving a stack of documents from Amnesty Int'l about the murders of girls in Juárez the day I was beginning an illustration to accompany a chapter about "rectal plugs"—what they are and ways to use them. The text described preparing one's body to accept larger "plugs" by beginning with the smallest available—they are available in sets of varying dimensions. Some people would insert them for the day, even carrying them inside the rectum while at work—an exercise for the anal sphincter muscle.

Anyway, my assignment was to make this and other practices easily understandable and to help remove any attached taboo with clear and warm, friendly drawings—to make people feel comfortable with a variety of sexual practices they may or may not have previously considered or tried.

The Amnesty documents described the forced anal intercourse and concurrent strangulation of victims. They described the insertion, per anum, of splintered, broken lengths of wood. One victim was impaled in this manner and apparently was left to slowly bleed to death.

I suppose it's hard to describe the revulsion I felt after going to Mexico and then returning, two weeks later, to finish the sex book.

I really can't speak highly enough of Phoebe Gloeckner's work in A Child's Life and The Diary of a Teenage Girl. I know there are some people who read this blog and actually heed my recommendations--I recommend those books as hard as than anything else I've ever recommended around here, I think. Shit, you can borrow them.

* It's all official and stuff: Robert Downey Jr. and Don Cheadle will be playing Tony Stark and James Rhodes in Iron Man 2 and The Avengers, while Jon Favreau is directing the Iron Man sequel and executive producing the big superhero team-up. I hope War Machine joins the Avengers, or gets his own movie based on Chuck Austen's U.S. War Machine, complete with nudity and genocide and Dr. Doom. Meanwhile, IM2's action scenes will feature input from Genndy Tartakovsky. Haha, the dude from Swingers is like "get me the Samurai Jack guy!" and the giant corporations are like "sir yes sir!"

* Remember Nate Fisher, the teacher who lost his job over giving a ninth grader a copy of Eightball #22? He's teaching again, thank goodness.

* Pascal Laugier supposedly will direct the Hellraiser remake, but given that this is a Clive Barker project and a horror movie in which the Weinsteins are involved, I wouldn't bet money on it.

* PictureBox has an auction blog. This Dave Gibbons Watchmen cover portfolio and this Chris Ware McSweeney's cover aren't bad places to start.

* Bryan Alexander and his commenters have more on the World of Warcraft zombie plague, which appears to have emerged, as no doubt the homeland security threats of the future will emerge, from unguarded ports.

* I see as much Cenobite as Saw in the fashion of Kei Kagami, but then, I would, wouldn't I.


* If I were a Denny's menu item, what would I be?

Losing My Edge (DFADDTF Comix Remix)

Yeah, I'm losing my edge.
I'm losing my edge.
The kids are coming up from behind.
I'm losing my edge.
I'm losing my edge
To the kids from SVA and from RISD.
But I was there.
I was there in 1968.
I was there for the first Zap issue in San Fran.
I'm losing my edge.
I'm losing my edge
To the kids whose footsteps I hear when they do SPX.
I'm losing my edge
To the Internet seekers
Who can tell me every member of every good webcomics collective from 2002 to 2008.
I'm losing my edge.
I'm losing my edge
To all the kids in Tokyo and L.A.
To the art-school Brooklynites with minicomics and borrowed nostalgia for the unremembered nineties.
Yeah, I'm losing my edge.
I'm losing my edge
But I was there.
I was there.
But I was there.
I'm losing my edge.
I'm losing my edge.
I can hear the footsteps every Wednesday on sale.
But I was there.
I was there in 1974 at Gary Panter's studio in a loft in Los Angeles.
I was working on the Jimbo look with much patience.
I was there when Harvey Kurtzman started up his first MAD.
I told him, "Don't do it that way. You'll never make a dime."
I was there.
I was the first guy showing Naruto to the X-kids.
I did it at SDCC.
Everybody thought I was crazy.
We all know.
I was there.
I was there.
I've never been wrong.
I used to work in the comic shop.
I had everything before anyone.
I was there on the Fort Thunder drum kit with Brian Chippendale.
I was there with L'Association during the great album clashes.
I woke up naked on the beach in San Diego in 1988.
But I'm losing my edge
To better-looking people
With better ideas and more talent.
And they're actually really—they're really nice!
I'm losing my edge.
I heard you have a compilation of every good comic ever done by anybody.
Every great book by Jack Kirby.
All the underground hits.
All of the Boody Rogers strips.
I heard you have a hardcover of every Tintin album on Belgian import.
I heard that you have a mini of every seminal Bill Sienkiewicz book - 1985, '86, '87.
I heard that you have a TPB compilation of every good '60s strip and another HC from the '70s.
I hear you're buying a P.O. Box and a Kinko's card and throwing your Diamond deal out the window because you want to make something real.
You want to make a King-Cat comic.
I hear that you and your friends have sold your Peanuts and bought manga.
I hear that you and your friends have sold your manga and bought Peanuts.
I hear everybody that you read is more relevant than everybody that I read.
But have you seen my comics?
Milt Gross, Steve Gerber, Chester Brown, Tsuge, Spain, Hal Foster, Mike Diana, King Terry, Lyn Ward, John Porcellino, Phoebe Gloeckner, Grant Morrison, Hergé, Junji Ito, Aline Kominsky, Jennifer Daydreamer, Rory Hayes, Osamu Tezuka, E.C. Segar, R. Crumb, Jules Feiffer, Herblock, Mark Beyer, George Herriman, Takashi Nemoto, L'Association, Ben Jones, Lynda Barry, Moebius, Justin Green, FC Ware, Charles Burns, Al Columbia, Frank King, Bernie Krigstein, Frank Miller (Goddamn Batman!), Will Elder, Art Spiegelman, Ernie Bushmiller, Julie Doucet, S! Clay! Wilson!, Jack Chick, Blutch, Mattotti, David Mazzuchelli, Los Bros Hernandez, Joost Swarte, Igort, Steve Ditko, Steve Ditko, Steve Ditko, Steve Ditko.

You don't know what you really want.
You don't know what you really want.
You don't know what you really want.
You don't know what you really want.
You don't know what you really want.
You don't know what you really want.
You don't know what you really want.
You don't know what you really want.
You don't know what you really want.
You don't know what you really want.
You don't know what you really want.
You don't know what you really want.
You don't know what you really want.
You don't know what you really want.
You don't know what you really want.
Okay, stop.


(Apologies to LCD Soundsystem)

October 30, 2008

Kool Keith - "I Don't Believe You"

Amazing fan-made video from one of Big Willie Keith's few post-Sex Style highlights. "You at your brother's house? I don't believe you."

Carnival of souls

* Say, this is neat: Tales from the Perilous Realm, a collection of all of J.R.R. Tolkien's non-Middle-earth fantasy fiction, plus the poetry collection The Adventures of Tom Bombadil.

* David Heatley responds to the recent Comics Comics Cage Match about his collection My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down's really not pretty. A lot of strawmen, back-patting, and ad hominem, all of which get called out pretty sharply in the comments by Tom Spurgeon and, when he's not really living up to the Cage Match moniker, Frank Santoro. Eventually Tim Hodler and Lauren Weinstein plead for restraint, Noah Berlatsky makes conciliatory gestures (!), and Dan Nadel shuts the thing down. A smart con organizer would want to make a panel out of this.

* A slideshow of stuff from Johnny Ryan's Blecky Yuckerella: Comics Are for Idiots! Alright!

* My pal Ben Morse takes a look at two high-quality Ed Brubaker series, Captain America and Daredevil.

* Anders Nilsen drawing Lucio Fulci's Zombi? Yes, please.


* Matt Zoller Seitz pens a heartfelt tribute to the life and career of the late film and television critic Andrew Johnston. Seitz notes Johnston's role in carving out critical space for such films as Donnie Darko, The Return of the King, and (one of my least favorite movies ever but I'm listing it just to break the nerdcurve) The Thin Red Line.

* I don't know what it is about this image from some horror-comedy I'm never going to see that delights me so, but delight me it does. The world is a better place with images like this in it.


October 31, 2008

Comics Time: Monster Men Bureiko Lullaby


Monster Men Bureiko Lullaby
Takashi Nemoto, writer/artist
PictureBox Inc, September 2008
200 pages
Buy it from PictureBox
Buy it from

What even to say about Monster Men Bureiko Lullaby? It's the kind of book that sets up a "get it/don't get it" dichotomy almost automatically. There's very little in terms of traditional parameters against which you can weigh the endless parade of transgression and revulsion, the shit-eating and child rape, the cancer and mutilation, the squiggly, cluttered line and resolutely ugly characters and environments. Unlike Johnny Ryan's work, it doesn't use the gross-out constituent parts to build up jokes--and I'm not just talking Ryan's more straightforward gag strips and funny stories, I mean it doesn't even go in for the super-labrynthine, Pythonesque digression structure of some of Ryan's recent-ish stuff--nor, of course, does it share Ryan's lovely, classically influenced line. Unlike the work of Rory Hayes, it doesn't convey that sense that you're seeing someone's searing, indelible, personal artistic vision--there's no unique vocabulary of teddy bears and demons, no electrocuted lines that look like they radiated directly out of the artist's brain.

Perhaps appropriately, what it most feels like to me is someone excreting their id all over the pages, paying virtually no attention to anything other than simply pooping out every horrible thought in his head. It's like...if someone who was already kind of gross had their self-censoring mechanism surgically removed, and then did a week's worth of 24-hour comics in a row. The initial suite of short stories--starring a man whose penis takes over his body, flipping it over so that the guy walks on his hands as his dick and balls take on the shape and skills of a face; an idiot-savant artist whose only subject is his penis, which he cuts off and sends to a girl he sees peeing as an attempt to mitigate her tragic penislessness; and "the world's most mature baby," who begins fucking his own mother while still in the womb--are somewhat disjointed in effect, eschewing storytelling rhythm for a pile-up of excess. The book's epic centerpiece, the two-part "The World According to Takeo," really is more in the vein of an improvised 24-hour comic--in an interview with PictureBox's Dan Nadel included in the volume, Nemoto says he started the comic with a few simple themes and no idea of how it was going to proceed or end in mind. It meanders, escalates, and by its second part coheres into something more sophisticated than the rest of the material here: The presence of readily understandable themes like the relationship between sexual abuse and sex work, or the reveal of the main character, the sentient sperm Takeo, as a the pretty benighted but at least recognizable homosexual stereotype, give the formless outrageousness something to work against. Of course, you're still talking about a comic co-starring a serial rapist who eventually dies of cock cancer.

This is not to say that there's no legible philosophical content in here. Japan's complex and at times disgraceful treatment of the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and their descendants is an obvious reference point. I certainly think it's more powerfully dealt with here than in the staid Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms. Since the book savages anything it touches, both the victim analogues and the society that shuns them are treated viciously; in that sense it not only critiques but embodies that problematic stance--that's honesty, I suppose. You also can't help but feel that Japanese society's simultaneous prurience and prudery--sexualizing schoolgirls but never depicting penetration in pornography, for example--is the target of the extravagantly outré sexualized violence on display here.

But the question is, is being deliberately without virtue a virtue? At what point does artlessness become an art in itself, and at what point does it simply remain artlessness? Down at the bottom of my sidebar you'll see the phrase "KEEP COMICS EVIL." Monster Men Bureiko Lullaby certainly does that. Is it enough? I know that for me, sometimes simply being offensive, thumbing your nose at polite society, feels like a tremendous victory, a nihilistic triumph. Yet at other times it makes me want to ask, "Is that all there is?" Which is it? I...I give up.

Happy Halloween


Imogen Heap - "Just for Now" (live)

It's that time of year
Leave all our hopelessnesses aside (if just for a little while)
Tears stop right here
I know we've all had a bumpy ride (I’m secretly on your side)

Carnival of souls: special "keep the Anti-Christ in Halloween" edition

* I think my favorite of all the bloggy Halloween festivities I've spotted today can be found at Jason Adams's My New Plaid Pants, where he's basically wallpapering the site with context-free horror:




* My pal "Beardy Kiel" Phegley's trip down Halloween-costume memory lane was pretty neat too.


* So was Not Coming to a Theater Near You's tribute to the best and worst covers, titles, and taglines from their monthlong look at VHS horror. Be sure to move your cursor over the box art!

* Midnight Meat Train is now available OnDemand! Something tells me this isn't the Missus's idea of Friday night viewing, but maybe I'll be able to report back on Monday evening.

* I can't decide what to go with here: "That's no anthology--that's a space station"? "Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair"? "My God, it's full of stars"?


* I thought CRwM was making a provocative, if ultimately unpersuasive, argument that horror critics need to see the Saw movies to be worth taking seriously and I responded to it as such, but apparently it was a joke? Dang.

* Plenty of interesting books to discover in Eric Reynolds's belated SPX report.

* This font is getting a little overused on horror promos at this point, but I thought the poster for The Broken was quite striking, and not just because it's of the gorgeous Lena Headey (well, part of her at least):


* Eerie work from Renee French. I know, shocking, right?


* This reel of sneak-attack murders from the video game Manhunt goes from disturbing to hilarious to appalling to even more hilarious and back again three or four times during the course of the clip. I wish the blood spurts were more realistic. (Via Joystick Division.)

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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