Saturday, July 30, 2005
More Racial Sensitivity in Comic Books
This is from an old WWII-era coverless comic I had floating around the house...I believe it's an issue of Animal Comics. It's missing a couple of the interior pages, so all I have is the splash panel of the story (pictured above) and the two panels that follow:
Beyond the Indians getting the short end of the stick -- again -- isn't that a grotesque drawing of a dog? That's not a funny animal...that's a disturbing animal.
Labels: racial sensitivity
Friday, July 29, 2005
The Comics FAQ
"Hey, Mike, didn't you say you were gonna have shorter posts for a while?"
Yeah, yeah, I know. Well, the moving process is in full swing now, so for today I thought I'd reprint something I did for the benefit of some internet (and real life) pals in those long-ago pre-Progressive Ruin years. Basically, I took a bunch of comic-book related questions from some good folk (including pals Corey, Reid, Kurt, Kevin, and Dorian) and proceeded to give several snide and mean-spirted answers to them.
I'd actually meant to run these on this site before, shortly after I started doing this weblog. If I recall correctly, someone else out there was doing some kind of "comic book glossary" or something similar at the time, and I didn't want to look Mr. Copy McCatter.
So, without further ado...and please, don't take any of these personally. I was just being a jerk on purpose (as opposed to inadvertantly being a jerk, as usual). A couple of the answers may be a bit out of date, too.
WHO IS KYLE RAYNER?
-- The new Green Lantern that nobody liked until Grant Morrison started writing him in JLA.
WHAT WAS "THE SPIDER-CLONE SAGA?"
-- The death-knell of Spider-Man in comics. Luckily he lives on in movies, TV, and toys.
WHO IS THE SCARLET SPIDER?
-- He was Peter Parker, who thought he was a clone of the original Peter Parker, who called himself Ben Reilly after coming out of hiding, but then it was revealed that the Peter that had been in the comics all this time in fact really was the real Peter Parker, and reclaimed the Spider-Man identity, and Reilly became Scarlet Spider, I think, I really don't remember, because even though it was all interesting when it started, after TWO F'ING YEARS it got to be a bit much.
WHERE IS BATTLE CHASERS?
-- On the trash heap along with countless other Image/Wildstorm comics that started big then vanished when their creators got bored. (i.e. right there next to "Soul Saga")
DIDN'T AUNT MAY DIE?
-- No, it was an actress who took the place of Aunt May, somehow deceiving her nephew who had lived with her pretty much all his life.
WHAT IS IMAGE COMICS?
-- A company started by oppressed Marvel Comics artists who wanted their own stable of artists to oppress.
WHAT HAPPENED TO HAL JORDAN?
-- Nothing good.
WHERE DID THE WEST COAST AVENGERS GO?
-- Most of 'em went to Force Works, based in Ventura, CA, apparently by the giant waterfall. You know, the giant waterfall everyone in Ventura likes to go see. Yeah, that one.
WHAT WAS THE "DAY OF JUDGMENT?"
-- A DC Comics crossover series designed to bring back Hal Jordan, but not in a way anyone wanted.
WHAT HAPPENED TO DONNA TROY?
-- Retconned, retconned, retconned, killed.
WHY DID CH'P DIE?
-- Because Gerard Jones hates you.
WHAT WAS THE LAST ISSUE OF MARVEL'S STAR WARS SERIES LIKE?
-- Long, badly printed with the never-perfected Flexograph method, and currently way overpriced.
WHO IS SPEEDBALL?
-- The superhero who killed John Belushi.
HOW DID ARKKIS CHUMMICK DIE?
-- He died while being drawn by Gil Kane, which is the only way to go.
WHAT WAS "THE DEATH OF CLARK KENT?"
-- What should have been final proof to DC that you can't catch lightning in a bottle twice.
WHY DOES SWAMP THING SUCK SO MUCH?
-- Ask your mom, she's the expert on s...oh, never mind.
WHAT IS THE CROW?
-- A comic book that has a popularity level inversely proportionate to its quality. Popular with people who cut themselves.
WHY DID RON PERELMAN HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH COMICS?
-- Money. Lots of it. Big ol' barrels of it. At least for a while.
WHAT WAS THE DEAL WITH THE SUPERFRIENDS CARTOON?
-- Well, it had Alex Toth on storyboards, but somehow, between the storyboarding and the actual animation, all the good was sucked out.
WHO WERE THOSE TWINS ON THE SUPERFRIENDS?
-- Zan and Jayna. Or Jan and Zayna. Hell, I don't know. They were from space, one could change into water, the other could change into an animal, and somehow Hanna-Barbara thought we'd rather see that than, say, Superman kicking ass. They're currently appearing as occasional bumpers on Adult Swim.
WHAT WAS THE RED/BLUE SUPERMAN?
-- Another classic Silver Age Superman story plundered for a modern Superman comic storyline that went on too long.
WHAT WAS UP WITH BANE/AZRAEL?
-- Bane was apparently an attempt at getting Batman a Mexican wrestler for a super-villain, and Azrael started out as an attempt to show readers how unpleasant a more brutal Batman could be, and ended up with a series that ran much longer than sales warranted.
WHAT IS CAPTAIN CARROT?
-- DC Comics' attempt at creating a comic book series specifically designed to be licensed for animation. Unfortunately, Cartoon Network wasn't invented yet.
WHAT ARE THE INVISIBLES?
-- A cheap Matrix rip-off, if Grant Morrison was able to somehow travel backwards in time after seeing the first Matrix movie.
WHO IS JONAH HEX?
-- A very peculiar old west hero published by DC Comics that, if he'd had any sense at all, would have cut off that stupid piece of flesh covering his mouth.
HOW MANY SWAMP THINGS HAVE THERE BEEN?
-- Well, there was his first appearance in House of Secrets 92, then the 24-issue series that ran in the 70s, the 171-issue series (plus 6 annuals) that ran in the 80s & 90s, and that most recent series that ran 20 issues. Oh, and there was a Secret Files, and that "Roots" one-shot. So, I guess, 223 if you include the House of Secrets. Oh, are you counting reprints, too?
WHAT WAS ONSLAUGHT?
-- A lame X-Men-centered crossover series that led into four Marvel titles being restarted and made worse than they were before. ("Avengers" recovered a year later, though.)
WHAT IS BATMAN?
-- A rather basic, simplistic character that can't possibly support a half-dozen monthly series, and yet that's how many DC publishes.
WHAT IS LIBERTY MEADOWS?
-- Bloom County with dirtier jokes. Nicely drawn, though.
WHAT IS FROM HELL?
-- A massive graphic novel by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell, discussing Jack the Ripper and Victorian society's role in his formation, done in such detail that it would be a fool's game to adapt it into a mov...huh? Really?
WHAT IS NINJA HIGH SCHOOL?
WHO IS ELEKTRA?
-- A character that was better off dead.
WHO IS GEOFF JOHNS?
-- A lucky, lucky S.O.B. ("he said jealously").
WHO'S PAUL LEVITZ?
-- Former publisher of "The Comics Reader" fanzine, who went on to pulp nearly an entire print run of the "Elseworlds 80 Page Giant" because of a story they ended up printing anyway.
WHAT WAS THE AGE OF APOCALYPSE?
-- A series of mini-series that interrupted the regular X-Men continuity for no real good reason, although it still sells alarmingly well as a back issue. Even "Factor-X."
WHAT IS MANGA?
-- Cute girls in skirts fighting monsters, giant robots, or each other.
WHAT WAS WEB OF SPIDER-MAN?
-- Mostly a waste of time, though some early issues had Peter David writing, and some Charles Vess work.
WHO IS ANARKY?
-- Batman villain with a disturbingly long neck that somehow warranted a predictably short-lived series.
WHAT WAS KNIGHT'S END?
-- DC's version of Marvel's Spider-Clone Saga...their attempt to drive away as many Batman readers as possible.
WHAT DOES THE "X" IN "X-MEN" STAND FOR?
-- It's the Roman numeral representation of approximately how many X-Men related titles are on the stands at any given time.
WHY ARE THERE SO MANY X-MEN BOOKS?
-- Because Marvel doesn't think the market's been diluted enough.
IS OR IS NOT RIVERDALE A FREE LOVE ENCLAVE?
-- Nothing's free in Riverdale.
Thursday, July 28, 2005
Progressive Ruin Presents Once More...The End of Civilization
(Previous entries in this series: 1 2 3 4 5)
So, what do you think this is?
A. A carrot way past the sale date
B. Some kind of horrible parasite
C. The Buffy the Vampire Slayer Plush Stake
If you said "C" -- you would be correct. On page 458 of the new Diamond Previews: "Made from the highest quality plush materials, this multi-purpose stake can be used to scare off undead foes, and can be easily and safely stowed under your pillow while you sleep!" You can also keep it right next to your hand-carved wooden stake.
Other goodies from Previews:
p. 42 - What's wrong with me that I think the King Kong with Ann bronze bust at $1,500 is ridiculous, but that the Kong Deluxe Collector's Chess Set Board at $475 is absolutely fantastic?
p. 182 - The Fantastic Four Diorama: Human Torch Statue looks like it's carved entirely out of hard candy.
p. 265 - Oh, sweet mother o'pearl, the worst comic book ever is returning to the stands, courtesy Devil's Due Publishing, complete with a money back guarantee! However, all is not lost, as the quite entertaining Robert Rodi is writing it...which means the longtime Purgatori fans will probably be taken aback by their favorite character being polluted with "wit" and "interesting stories."
p. 405 - A novelization of V for Vendetta, written by Steve Moore...the same Steve Moore that's friends with original V writer Alan Moore?
p. 464 - G.I. Joe Dog Tag Replica Series 1: "This first series...features the tags of some of the greatest names in Joe history - like Hawk, Flint, and Gung-Ho - whose tags feature a replica grenade pin!"
p. 511 - Battlestar Galactica Levels Glass Shooters, which have characters associated with the different levels of alcohol you would presumably place within said shooter. The lowest rank is "Cylon," the highest is "Galactite." "Starbuck" is second-highest, in case you were wondering. Oddly, "Ellen Tigh," a character on the new series that appears to be always drunk, is fourth.
p. 512 - Lots of Lost items, including autographed photos. Jorge Garcia as Hurley and Emile De Raven as Claire are the most expensive, at $39.99 a pop.
p. 518 - Darth Vader 18.5-inch Steinbach Nutcracker: "Crack your mixed nuts with the power of the Force using this Darth Vader 18.5" nutcracker." I honestly don't know what to say to that.
p. 553 - Hold on, they're reissuing the first Swamp Thing movie on DVD? I wonder if this means they cut out the offending footage that caused them to pull the first DVD release (under May 7-8).
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
The Greatest Line of Comic Book Dialogue Ever Written
From Doom Patrol #14 (Sep '05):
"I mean, it's not every day you have to adjust to the idea of your son's brain being transplanted into the body of a four-armed gorilla!"
Pal Dorian spotted this in the new Previews at the shop today:
While I guess that's a fairly accurate description of the kind of movie this is, we were wondering if there was any particular reason behind writing the solicitation information for the Revenge of the Sith DVD in this way...beyond someone just plain screwing up, that is. Is there some kind of odd Lucasfilm restriction on catalogues offering orders on ROTS in advance, so Diamond has to dance around the subject and not actually call it by name?
Hero Squared #1 should be in your finer comic shops today, and, like I said about the initial Hero Squared special, it's a fun, not overly serious (but just serious enough) superhero book. It has the unique combination of slapstick, character-based humor, honest emotion, genuine pathos, and outright silliness that J. M. DeMatteis and Keith Giffen are known so well for from their work on Justice League (and, now, the current Defenders mini-series). Plus, the premise of the book (a superhero is partnered up with his less-than-super parallel universe counterpart) is, as far as I'm able to recall, unique. I've been reading superhero comics for 30 years now, so I appreciate it when someone comes up with a new take on the old genre. Also, Joe Abraham's art is fun and expressive, perfectly matching the script.
So go buy it already. Let's give this guy some incentive to keep publishing this comic!
Starting tomorrow, my e-mail access will be spotty at best for a few days. So, if you have anything you want me to see right away, better send it now!
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
COMIC SHOP CUSTOMER TYPE: The Narrow-It-Downer
"So, I'm looking for a comic I had a while back. It may have been published in the '50s or '60s, or maybe the early '70s. I think Superman was in it, or maybe Spider-Man. Anyway, they were fighting some guys in costumes. Oh, and the cover was like a reddish-blue or orange color. Do you have that issue?"
COMIC SHOP CLERK TYPE: The Bummer
"Yeah, it's too bad about the comics industry. I'm sure it'll all be gone within a couple years. Nobody's buying any of this new stuff, everybody complains about every new book, nothing's as good as it used to be, sales are in the dumps, creators are leaving the industry in droves, paper prices are skyrocketing, and we all die alone and afraid.
"Thanks for shopping."
COMIC SHOP CUSTOMER TYPE: The Magpie
No sample dialogue...mostly just says "is this free?" repeatedly as he or she grabs everything that even vaguely looks like it's being offered free of charge. Generally buys nothing.
COMIC SHOP CLERK TYPE: The Reader
(As he's ringing you up) "Hey, this looks pretty good!" (starts flipping through the comic you're trying to buy)
COMIC SHOP CUSTOMER TYPE: The Spoiler
(On new comics day, a customer flips through one of the new releases) "Wow, hey, I can't believe they just killed off Lady Dynamo in the new issue of Super Militia! Right on the last page, too. I never saw that coming!"
(Said to you, before you've had a chance to read Super Militia for yourself. Customer may thrust the page in question right into your face, for added effect)
COMIC SHOP CLERK TYPE: The Just-Like-Comic-Book-Guy-on-The-Simpsons Guy
Just read the quotes here and here and here. You've met him. Oh yes.
Sample: "But Aquaman, you cannot marry a woman without gills. You're from two different worlds."
COMIC SHOP CUSTOMER TYPE: The Unreasonable Mint Hound
Customer: "I'm looking for a copy of Tales from the Uncanny Valley #2. I've been looking for that thing for years...I can't believe just how rare that comic is. I've encountered dealers who've never even seen an issue of this series. According to my sources, there may only be about 20 to 25 copies of that particular issue left in the world."
Clerk: "Oh, hey, we have one. It's in Very Fine Minus for $25.00."
Customer: "No thanks, I'd rather get one in better condition."
COMIC SHOP CLERK TYPE: The Giver of Too Much Information
"So, yeah, that was some fight my girlfriend and I had last night. Man, she was really letting me have it, just because she thinks I drink too much. Ah, well, it's worth a little grief, since she's good in the sack, know what I mean? Anyway, it all started at a party we were at earlier that day...I just had a couple beers, just to loosen up, and I tripped on a chair and really banged the hell out of my elbow. It's still all crusty and sore...hey, take a look at that, does that look infected? So that's when my old lady started giving me sh--
"What? No, sorry kid, we don't sell Pokemon cards."
COMIC SHOP CUSTOMER TYPE: The Poseur
"I see comics as the ultimate form of free, personal expression, unfettered by commercial restraints. I prefer comics that strive for this ideal, eshewing cliches in favor of originality. Please, good comic book clerk, lead me to your graphic novels, where I may find artistic beauty in its purest state."
...And, no matter what he's shown, he buys Wolverine comics drawn by Sam Keith.
COMIC SHOP CLERK TYPE: The Dick
"Oh, you're buying that comic? Boy, that one really sucks. The writer on that book really doesn't know what he's doing. But, given the character he's working with, I suppose it's not entirely his fault. And that artist...has he ever seen an actual human body? Man, I can't believe anyone actually enjoys that comic.
"Hey, why are you putting it back on the shelf?"
Monday, July 25, 2005
So it's come to this.
Well, I've been putting a daily post (or posts) on this website for over a year and a half now. And, I think, I've been fairly successful with this site, since I started this thing expecting no one to really care, and I've managed to work my way up to a pretty large amount of traffic (well, for a comics weblog, anyway). I've had a lot of fun, showing off goofy comics, spouting my mouth off on various topics, and interacting with a lot of you swell folk out there who were nice enough to have tolerated my nonsense for this long. And, somewhere along the way, maybe, just maybe, we all learned a little something.
Unfortunately, as fun as all this is, my real life must take precedence. So it is with a heavy heart that I must regretfully announce...
...that my daily posts may be a little shorter than usual over the next week or two. I'm going to be in the process of moving to a new house, so it's going to be a little difficult generating new content at the same time. Plus, I'll be on the courtesy dial-up until the DSL service kicks in again, and I already know that's going to stink.
It's going to be a little rough, but I still plan on providing at least small updates every day until everything's back to relative normalcy. It's not anything to quit weblogging over, at any rate.
And, by some odd coincidence, pal Dorian is also in the process of moving. Must be catching.
Sunday, July 24, 2005
1. Pal Ian came by the store today, and gave me the greatest gift one man can give another man.
Yes, that's right, he gave me a Stealth movie poster.
1a. By the way, at that Stealth link, you can apparently "download the desktop experience." Oh, and "fear the sky," too.
2. Kid Chris brought up something that I'm ashamed I didn't think of myself. Do you think that Alicia being a blind sculptress was de-emphasized in the Fantastic Four movie so that people didn't think they were ripping off the whole "blind sculptress" thing from Lionel Richie's video for the song "Hello?"
3. Okay, now ever since Power Girl was first introduced, there's been some measure of...comment over her...buxomness, as it were. Now that she's currently being featured in JSA Classified, the debate has risen again, particularly since she seems even more buoyant than usual. Now, I think I'm of two minds on this. On one hand, the cheesecake is played mostly for laughs (and reactions to her statuesque qualities have, in recent years, usually been used to make the male characters look ridiculous). On the other hand, it is page after page of drawings of a woman with improbably large breasts. On the other, other hand, the artist of this story is a woman, Amanda Conner, and she stated in a recent Wizard interview that she purposely emphasized PG's assets. On the other, other, etc. hand, the readers of superhero comics are predominantly male, and the creative teams know what they have to do to get guys to part with their $2.50. But, then again, this series promises to clean up PG's convoluted back story, and to longtime DC continuity geeks, that's hard to resist.
So, yeah, I'll be reading it. I like how Geoff Jones has been writing her, and I'm one of those aforementioned DC continuity geeks, so I'd like to see where he goes with it.
And we've nearly sold out it at our store, by the way. Sex sells...who knew?
3a. Pal Dorian pointed out (and I should've realized it myself) that this story may follow up on situations from Grant Morrison's Animal Man run. I certainly hope so, if it is what I think it is.
4. I don't think I can get through a day at work without Robocop being mentioned at least once.
"Lessons from a comic book superhero"
"When the cosmic rays made his body malleable and stretchable, Dr. Richards didn't adopt a lame superhero name like Plastic Man. He called himself Mr. Fantastic."
"Batman Begins: The comic book finally grows up"
"I have never enjoyed a single one of these bombastic optical orgies. Comic books on screen are essentially lies. They try to create an illusion of multi-dimensionality for what is predominantly a uni-focal experience. The characters therefore appear more chic and stylish than substantial."
"Everything silly is serious again"
"...The grittiness that had entered comic-book storytelling through [Frank] Miller had diffused from Batman into other storylines, and what had been unique to Batman quickly came to characterize the industry. Specialty shops became lone sanctuaries for proponents of that industry, and comic book readers became laughing stocks in the eyes of the mainstream."
Upcoming happenings on Smallville
"Then [Tom] Welling added that this year, 'Smallville' is digging deeper into the comic book's lore by having Clark explore the Fortress of Solitude and meet the lamest superhero* ever, Aquaman."
"Want his attention? Send up a bat signal"
"Be it Batman, Superman, Deathstroke or Green Arrow, [sports agent Drew] Rosenhaus knows his superheroes. His research material - stacks of hundreds of comic books - is piled high only a few steps away in the walk-in closet."
"In Brightest Day, In Darkest Night"
"Believe it or not, some people think comic books are stupid."
* I'm going to assume the "lamest superhero" comment was embellishment on the part of the article's writer, and not paraphrasing Mr. Welling. Still, kinda harsh.