Saturday, November 20, 2004
Sometimes Batman accepted trophies just to be polite.
from Detective Comics #279 (May 1960) - art by Sheldon Moldoff & Charles Paris
Friday, November 19, 2004
So I've been writing an awful lot on this website lately, and I realize that's a lot of huge chunks of text for you all to wade through. If you do willingly inflict my disjointed ramblings upon yourself, you have my appreciation.
Don't worry...I'll have another funny comic panel tomorrow to break up the monotony!
In other news:
Pete Von Sholly revives the John Stanley classic Melvin Monster with a full 32-page web-only comic book! Here's the link to the press release, and from there you can read the whole darn thing. Fun stuff!
Peter David reprints an old "But I Digress" column in which he discusses writing movie novelizations. One of the books discussed: his rather liberal (and highly recommended by yours truly) adaptation of Return of the Swamp Thing.
Holy frijole - H kicks ass and takes names with his look at the Comic Buyers Guide Top 1,600 Comics list. Our store's copies showed up today, and...hoo boy, H earned his merit badges if he waded through that whole thing. (Am I right in that there was no mention of Love & Rockets in that list? Wha-HUH?)
I have here in front of me a photocopied preview of the forthcoming AiT/Planetlar release Proof of Concept. It's an anthology of short science fiction and/or fantasy/horror stories, all written by publisher Larry Young, and illustrated by several different artists. The stories run from the amusing (kids find a spatial anomaly in their backyard) to the compelling (a crew of time-travelers must pursue their insane former captain through time and space) to the downright bizarre (a future world populated entirely by clones of Abraham Lincoln). There are a variety of art styles at work here, ranging from Steven Sanders and Jeff Johns' cartoony style in "Zombie Dinosaur," to the rough-hewn, but still appealing, art of Paul Tucker in "The Camera." All the artists are nicely matched to the mixture of tones Young presents in his stories.
Aside from being a collection of entertaining stories, Proof of Concept has an additional purpose: showing just how to sell a story to a reader and/or publisher. Don't just go on and on describing every nuance of your new, terrific, and completely original idea: give us a hook, like, say, "zombie dinosaurs!" There you go; what's more high concept than that? However, instead of explaining how to sell your idea (as Young had done previously in the excellent True Facts), he shows you, complete with interstitial sequences (illustrated by Kieron Dwyer) featuring Young pitching his various ideas to a friend over the phone. Each discussion begins with Young setting out the hook ("Anne Rice meets The Fugitive"), spends the next couple of panels adding details to the hook, and then following up the interstitial with the hook in action as one of the anthology's stories. It's a clever gimmick, and drives home the importance of having a direction to your story...all the pretty art and clever dialogue in the world can't save your script unless there's a strong idea at the core.
My only minor complaint about the book is that the stories are mostly just excerpts from longer works...once you really get into the story, it abruptly ends and goes on to the next. (The only story that appears in its entirety is "The Bod," a previously-published work by Young and John Heebink.) It's a whole lot of set-ups, and not a whole lot of payoffs. Ultimately, though, that really doesn't count as a complaint, since it supports Young's point that stories with a strong (or, at the very least, catchy) ideas will grab your attention and not let go. As it is, this is still one heck of a sampler book, and I wouldn't mind seeing any of these stories in a fuller format. It's entertaining and it's educational, and a must-read for any aspiring writers, particularly those interested in the adventure genre. Keep an eye out for it in December.
EDIT: Pal Dorian has his own review...we're twinsies!
Thursday, November 18, 2004
New comics day. Again.
(SPOILERS, as per usual. Don't blame me, buddy!)
Let's get it out of the way...Space Ghost #1 came out yesterday, and it's selling reasonably well for us thus far. I imagine I'll probably have to put in a reorder before too long (assuming reorders are available, of course).
As for the quality of the book...well, you can take a vacuum to the desert, and you can vacuum for hours and hours and hours, and when you're done you'll still have a desert.* That's sorta like this Space Ghost comic...you can dump as much "serious" content into this comic as you'd like, but you're still gonna end up with freakin' Space Ghost. Say, Space Ghost has a pregnant wife? I'm sure nothing's going to happen to her!
That said...it's not a bad-looking comic. It's one of those rare instances of fully-painted superhero comic art actually looking like cartooning, and not like a long series of photo references. The art, by Ariel Olivetti, has a goofy charm that's totally in contrast to the story's events. And I also want to note the unusual shade of blue at the bottom of front cover...looking at a scan of it online doesn't do it justice. It's a painfully...neon? electric? shade of blue that you need to see in person...very eyecatching.
If you're looking for a version of Space Ghost that's slightly more serious than the one that's on Cartoon Network, but not quite as "grim 'n' gritty" as this new version, find yourself a copy of the 1987 Space Ghost one-shot from Comico. It's just as serious as it needs to be (i.e. as serious as the original cartoons were) and it's chock full of Steve Rude goodness.
Other new funnybook arrivals:
Adventures of Superman #634 - absolutely fantastic. Last week, when we got our preview copy of this issue, pal Dorian showed me the cover, and pointed out the very subtle (and slightly disturbing) hidden images. I may never had noticed if he hadn't drawn my attention to it. The interior is a lot of fun, too, as Mr. Mxyzptlk gets mixed up in a battle between Superman and the Parasite Twins. As a result, Mxy ends up in the "real world," interacting with DC Comics' staff in some of the clearest photos I've ever seen used in a comic book story...we've come a long way from those grainy black and white photos that used to pop up in the Bullpen Bulletins every once in a while. Also appreciated is the much more sympathetic portrayal of Mxy, as opposed to the evil little S.O.B. he was following the mid-80s Superman revamp.
Terra Obscura Vol. 2 #4 - did anyone else think this issue read really fast? I got to the end of the comic and thought, "wait, is that it?"
Ex Machina #6 - there's a discussion between a couple subway workers near the end of the book that made me blush, and I'm someone who has to hear discussions about gay porn on a fairly regular basis. So, fellow retailers...for God's sake, don't sell this to kids! Well, otherwise, another fine issue...I find myself really enjoying the flashback sequences that take place during Mayor Hundred's career as a superhero...they have a "real" world Astro City-esque feel. A
JLA #108 - anyone disappointed that the first issue of Kurt Busiek's run didn't feature enough of the Crime Syndicate will be happy with this issue, which has the Syndicate almost to the exclusion of anything else. Well, there are some Qwardians in there, too...I wonder if this is a nod to DC's brief attempt at retconning the original Crime Syndicate into Qwardians a few years back. Anyone else remember that? I seem to recall a giant Phil Jimenez drawing of all the Justice League villains that had those big Qwardian bug-eyes badly edited onto the faces of the Syndicate members.
Fantastic Four #520 - I love the FF, but aside from Stan 'n' Jack, and a couple other people since then, the book is rarely done well. I have been enjoying Mark Waid's run on the title, and this issue had a good laugh out loud line (regarding Reed's fear that Johnny may try Galactus' patience)...it's a shame that Waid's leaving the book after this storyline, especially given the big brouhaha when he and Wieringo were temporarily forced off the book a while back.
Cosmic Guard #4 - I've given up on this comic. I normally enjoy Jim Starlin's work, but I think my patience has officially run out on this particular title. It's not bad work** by any means, but I don't think I need to see yet another variation on the "kid gets superpowers he's not ready for" storyline. The cosmic stuff from the first issue hasn't made a reappearance, and the "hero corrupted by power" theme is currently being done better in Firestorm.
Green Lantern Rebirth #1 2nd printing - this cover, featuring Hal Jordan as Green Lantern, was probably the one they should have used in place of the Hal as the Spectre cover on the first printing. Oh, and we were shorted half our order on these for some reason.
Identity Crisis #1 3rd printing - just wanted to mention that this came out as well, in case anyone still needs a copy.
Plastic Man On The Lam trade paperback - it's formatted like that Chip Kidd-designed Plastic Man book from a few years ago...you know, with the cover slightly larger than the pages inside. Oh, and hold your nose if you take it out of the plastic sleeve...the book is quite pungent. Hoo boy. Good comics, though.
In other news:
Those of you who bought the first two volumes of The Complete Peanuts as they came out, and were a little miffed that a slipcased set was released...the slipcase is now available for order from Diamond, separate from the books. It's only $4.95, so start nagging your retailer today!
Commenter Anonymous points back to that Love Is eBay auction I mentioned the other day...it ended at $274.99. Let me repeat that...$274.99.
* Why, yes, I am master of the analogy. Why do you ask?