9/30/2008

Baltimore Comic Con 2008: Jesse's Impressions and Haul


Day 1: I was completely overwhelmed. I don't know what it is but just something about being surrounded by thousands of comics and people but I can never get my bearings. Having people dressed up like the Joker, Metaknight, and Jedi certainly didn't help. I got lost constantly and ended up just sort of wandering. But it was great and I still got tons of good stuff. Here was my haul:

Mythos "Spiderman" by Paul Jenkins and Paolo Rivera - I read Mythos "Fantastic Four" and "Captain America" before buying this. I was excited to see they had a Spiderman one. I like how the tone of these are a little sad.

Twisted Taled #1 -Great Richard Corben cover on this one. That's all I needed to see.

Beanworld Book One by Larry Marder - I have read this before but it felt good to get a copy into my hands. Beanworld is some of the best stuff around.

The Thing: Freak Show by Geoff Johns and Scott Kolins - I've picked this up a couple of times and every time thought it looked interesting. For half price it was finally time to take the plunge.
The Incredible Hulk "Ground Zero" by Peter David, Todd McFarlene, et al. - The art in this just looks nuts. The Hulk has such a tiny head and the heavy line work reminds me of a Darrow or Quietly.

Dreadstar Vol. 2 by Jim Starlin - Jim Starlin is a personal favorite of mine. Infinity Gauntlet and Death of Captain Marvel specifically. I've read Dreadstar Vol. 1 and loved it. Starlin does great panel transitions and knows how to set up a page.

Winsor McCay Early Works V - Little Nemo is great but this has some of McCay's even better political cartoons. They were posted a while ago at Golden Age of Comic Book Stories.

ABC Warriors: The Black Hole by Pat Mills, Simon Bisley, and S.M.S. - I bought this just by flipping through it and reading the first lines, "During the classical period of Terra's history, Emperor Zalinn ordered the construction of an artificial Black and White Hole on the planet itself...to provide a highway to the heavens!

Abraxis and the Earthman by Rick Veitch - I've Veitch's stunning Maximortal and have wanted to read this one for a while. Moby Dick in space???

Wolverine "Blood Hungry" by Peter David and Sam Keith - Sam Keith is pretty good right? His art here fits pretty well with Wolverine and I've been getting more interested in Wolverine since Old Man Logan and Wolverine: Saudade.

Mouse Gaurd: Belly of the Beast - Medieval mice fight a snake. Awesome.

Day 1 I attended the Kirkman vs. Bendis panel. I had only really seen Kirkman's video manifesto so it was pretty interesting to hear Bendis' argument against it. It seemed to me that they were both arguing different things. They ended up arguing about the economics of the industry. Kirkman at the heart of his argument thinks that more comics should be original and not re-hashing old characters. I think that this is a better argument to make than to say that creator owned works are sustainable.
Day 2: A fresh new day. Focused and ready to go. A lot less people on a Sunday made browsing a lot easier. Highlights from day two were hearing a couple of hilarious exchanges. One guy trying hard to get his friend to buy some Witchblade while his friend blatantly told him it sucked. Another guy professed his love for Spiderwoman at an artists table "Aw. You've got my girl Spiderwoman. She is seriously hot. Seriously" Day 2's haul I got more into the white boxes:

Mythos "Hulk" by Paul Jenkins and Paolo Rivera - Decided to go with the trend of buying Mythos Spiderman and pick up this one as well. I read it the other day and it's the best one yet.

Wolverine: The Jungle Adventure by Walter Simonson and Mike Mignola - I bought this on the strength of Mignola and my growing love for the hairy one.

Akira Vol. 1 No. 5 - I've got No. 1-4 and I love them. Can't wait to read this.

Doom Patrol #14 by John Arcudi and Seth Fisher - A Seth Fisher classic. He even makes the trees seem important.

B.P.R.D. The Dead #1 and #2 by Mike Mignola, John Arcudi, and Guy Davis - I've been wanting to read some B.P.R.D. after reading some Hellboy recently.

The Life of Captain Marvel #4 by Jim Starlin - <3 Starlin <3 Marvel

Batman: Snow by Dan Curtis Johnson, J.Williams III, and Seth Fisher - ANOTHER Seth Fisher Classic. He draws Batman to look human making him look akward, pathetic, but still heroic. Fisher is one of the best.
The Silver Surfer "Parable" #1 by Stan Lee and Moebius - One of my favorite characters by one of my favorite artists. So glad I finally found this.

Batman: Dark Allegeinces by Howard Chaykin - Batman fights the KKK. What else can I say?

Daredevil: Yellow by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale - Long Halloween, Dark Victory, and Spiderman: Blue all were great, so Daredevil: Yellow was the logical next step.

I also picked up some awesome free posters of Dark Sied, Kull, and Usagi Yojimbo. The Con overall was very fulfilling. The biggest disappointment was the lack of quality toys. The comics, for the most part, were discounted by all the toys were at premium prices. There's nothing better than having a giant stack of unread comics waiting for you at home. It gets you through the day.

Running as fast as they can, Iron Man lives again!

Remember that great super hero movie Iron Man? It comes out on DVD today and got me thinking back to the time I saw it in the theaters. There was this bizarre incident where the power went out 30min from the end of the movie. One member of the audience volunteered to go tell the theater officials of the mishap but then shouted back in, “the whole theater is blacked out!” After watching a movie featuring a lot of terrorism other members of the audience began to get a little freaked out. It’s kind of a perfect example of how the first hour and forty-five minutes of Iron Man have you sucked into a completely believable world.

The movie itself was really good, and from the very first scene it captures your attention. It’s the scene that you’ve watched in all the trailers where Tony is having fun in his Humvee and then it’s attacked by terrorists. When I first saw it in the trailers it convinced me to go see this movie. It’s a good blend of over the top character and reality that is perfect for a comic movie. What you don’t see in the trailer is the continuation of the scene. Tony’s army protectors get out of the Humvee as Tony is completely terrified trying to take hold of the situation. He spouts out lines that you’d hear in the movies, “What’s our situation?” and “How many we got?” The soldiers ignore him as Tony and the audience is plunged into the middle of the chaos of war. There’s no objective only shooting at the enemy. A hand held camera and close-ups of the soldiers help the feel of reality also. Tony watches each solider die not in the glory of battle but quick and real. Stark is taken prisoner and there is a shot of Tony captured by the terrorists that is reminiscent of the beheading videos. Then the ‘IRON MAN’ title screen followed by extended flashback of Tony being the celebrity playboy that we saw in the first couple of minutes. The movie continues to balance out moments of real terror with comedy and actual character development all the way through.

Tony’s character is the most interesting part of the movie. He pretends to be this celebrity jerk, but at his heart he’s part kid and part nerd. The exact combination that appeals to most comics’ fans. It’s also subtle which is important. The next morning after he gets this Vanity Fair reporter in bed he retreats into his basement to work on a hotrod engine and lets his secretary, Pepper Potts, deal with showing her out. He’s at least somewhat concerned for her because he asks how she took it and by working on something mechanical tries to take his mind off of it. It’s important to see how these parts of his personality are there all along because after he’s captured and comes back we see them emerge. When he comes back he’s not completely changed just slightly. One of the weirdest things about the Spiderman movie is how he changes so dramatically after his Uncle dies. Yeah, it’s a major life-altering event but the change in the movie feels way more contrived. He’s shown as a complete shut-in and then as soon as he gets super powers he gets adventurous. Stark is already crazy when the movie starts so when he is testing out experimental technology in his basement and fighting terrorists it’s believable. When he comes back the only thing that changes are his priorities not his personality.

It’s kind of impossible to ignore the political themes in the movie. The terrorists, even though their boss wants to rule Asia, and the soldiers all bring up thoughts of the war in Iraq. Tony’s attitude of: go in blow everyone up from the air and it will be just fine, has a similar feeling to the Bush administration’s going into the war. Then things go horribly wrong. Tony finds out that his company has been double-dealing to the enemy. It’s vaguely similar to the war profiteering Halliburton was accused of. Even the dorky guy from the Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement Division sounds like a Bush style government official with a needlessly long name and way behind in information. Iron Man has a hopeful vision of the future with a focus on armoring individual solider and corporate responsibility. By the end even the dorky guy is now a S.H.E.I.LD. liaison and in control of Tony’s situation. That’s why the end when Jeff Bridges goes nuts and becomes Iron Monger sucks so much. It doesn’t make any sense with all the other stuff going on in the movie. It makes thematic sense, but why not just let the terrorist guy pilot it and have Jeff stick around for Iron Man 2? It doesn’t take away from the movies message about corporate greed. If he stuck around to the second one it would be more effective because it would be show how hard it is to get rid of Obidiah Stane type guys.

Suicidal Tendencies...


...is what Tony Stark's listening to when he's working on his car in that one scene in the Iron Man movie, out today on DVD.

9/29/2008

Baltimore Comic-Con 2008: Brandon's Take

I'll probably elaborate on some stuff in a few additional posts, but here are some scattershot thoughts/feelings about the Baltimore Comic Con and a list of all the crap I bought, which really, wasn't that much crap...

-To spend an entire weekend basically walking around and looking at comics and to never feel bored or anything--except during the panels I attended--is pretty crazy. When you got bored of looking through white boxes you could go upstairs and attend a panel or just wander around and oggle the artists and creators signing and selling their work. Talking to Richard Starking of Elephantmen fame was awesome, although I probably freaked him out because I was sort of an ass. Basically, David had already mentioned this blog, so when I went over he jokingly said "Better than Maus, eh?" to which I just sort of rattled off an explanation of why ("Well it says all the shit Maus says but with lots of guns and elephants fighting, so it's awesome"), to which he sort of laughed. I use my hands a lot when I talk, so maybe I freaked him out. Or not, he noticed me a couple hours later. He seems like a pretty awesome guy.

-The best thing is how, if you really, really, wanted to, you could pretty much complete any relatively recent series, just moving from "$1 Comics" boxes on one seller's table, to the next, and to the next. This is great. It also makes you separate the awesome guys from the schlockmeisters who sell shit for too much.

-Chubby, creepy but awesome guy with a ton of Underground "comix" on Richard Corben: "Corben draws em' right. He knows how to draw women right and he knows how to draw monsters right". To which David responded, "Yeah, he draws everything right...he draws leaves right too".

-Worst Moment: Yelling at this group of dudes that decided to take their wacky pictures in front of all these whiteboxes, blocking the way of a ton of people. It being a comic book convention, they weren't really ready to get yelled at, so they were all weirded out by it, so then I just felt bad for about an hour afterward. Bonus Bad Moment: Five minutes before this, one of the owners of this particular booth yelled at a black lady and her son who asked if they could have one of his bags (although they'd purchased nothing from him) but didn't have the balls to yell at these guys.

-Something I do not understand is getting autographs. I don't understand the appeal of waiting in line after line for them to write on your shit. Especially weird was hearing people looking for something by Tim Sale or Wrightson to get signed just because those guys were there. Can anyone explain the phenomenon of autographs to me?

-Lots of visual and vocal support for Obama, which is interesting.

-There was this one booth that was there last year too, and it's selling statues, but it's mainly selling statues from the Peter Jackson King Kong movie? It's sad.

-Little kids dressing up is the greatest thing ever. Adults dressing up is also great. There were these older, biker type dudes who were dressed up like these post-Apocalypse guys, with like football pads and metal boots and grime on them and a fake cinderblock on a stick.

-Comics people are almost all really nice and it's awesome. When the biggest worry about going up to some creator or even bothering one of the vendors is "they might act awkward", that's not bad.

-Best Moments: The fun parts of the Kirkman/Bendis panel, Being a douche to/meeting Richard Starkings, Jesse and Karen stealing over-priced Hero Clix from this asshole's table, Walking in the rain to eat bad chinese food and looking at the comics I got so far, "Laughing Ogre" comics' table, and tons of $1 comics...and, listening to Neu! 2 in David's car as we drove around to get pizza and beer on Saturday night.

What I Bought

-The Thing: Freak Show #4 by Geoff Johns & Scott Kolins: This issue's been evading me for six months now, so it was great to finally get it and be able to finish this excellent mini-series. Reading the first three awhile ago led me to think Johns and Kolins were actually good but I was wrong. This might be the only good thing they've ever done. Especially Scott Kolins, whose work for DC now, is like poor man's John Romita Jr. and uses lots of thick lines and no detail and has this photoshop/digital sheen that totally doesn't work for the ragged nature of his work...it's just terrible.

-Dark Horse Presents #71: I needed this to get an issue closer to having the complete Jodorowsky/Moebius story "The Madwoman of the Sacred Heart". There's still one more I need because I didn't bring a list with me and accidentally bought an issue I already had instead.

-Shaolin Cowboy by Geoff Darrow #2 & #4

-100% by Paul Pope #2 & #3

-THB, Comics from Mars #1 by Paul Pope: The San Diego Comic Con-only issue (I think?) from last year.

-Batman: The Order of Beasts by Eddie Campbell: Weirdo "Batman" stories by auteur-like artists are almost always great.

-Shimura TP by Robbie Morrison, Frank Quitely, et. al.

-Spacehawk #5 by Basil Wolverton: Some 90s Dark Horse reprint of one of Wolverton's worst and most awesome characters/comics.

-Dr. Robot Special #1 by Bernie Mireault

-Technopriests Book One: Initiation by Jodorowsky, Janietov, Beltran TP: I let this kid I know borrow these and in order to get them back I'd have to talk to him and don't really feel like it, so finding the first book for five bucks is awesome.

-Isolation & Illusion: Collected Short Stories 1977-1997 by P. Craig Russell TP: Monique actually bought this for me. She just thought it looked cool. There's a Lovecraft adaptation inside that looks INSANE.

-Heavy Metal, July 1980: This issue has a Bilal interview in it and lots of work by him and Moebius inside. It also, weirdly enough has a small article in it about James Chance? I love metal and prog and fantasy metal and all the shit usually associated with Heavy Metal and I'm not totally hip to what was going on in this magazine in its early years, but it seemed sorta crazy that there was this James Chance article in there.

-Heavy Metal, August 1980: Has a Moebius interview in it and some weird Rick Veitch stuff too.

Baltimore Comic-Con 2008: Samuel James Rules Spent All His Money



Despite the terrible rain and consequent fear of ruining newly purchased books, Baltimore Comic-Con was awesome. After meeting up at my place and figuring out who's riding with who we drove the fifteen minutes to our secret free parking and Karen and I realized that we left our tickets at home. Walking back through the rain and speeding home in a record NINE MINUTES we grabbed our tickets and made it back to the Con, and were instantly happy again, soaking wet but smiles on our faces. Right off the bat I turned around and saw Don Rosa, writer and artist of The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, which is one of my all time favorites. I bought a great print from him which he happily signed, and my day was already looking up.

I made a point to go to the Bendis and Kirkman panel since the Kirkman "manifesto" is such a hot topic and something I have had many conversations about. It's unfortunate that they didn't really address a lot of issues, and the beginning joke was so lame even sad-ass fan boy dudes couldn't keep up laughing at "fuck you" being shot back and forth for a minute. Kirkman (being the "little guy" in the conversation) had the crowd of yes-dudes and Bendis (being one of my least favorite writers and big bad industry villian) was basically ignored even when he was correct. Kirkman busted out some graphs in a power point presentation showing Walking Dead sales compared to Marvel Zombies sales, two books which he wrote. He wanted to show that Walking Dead's sales did not rise or fall with the release of Marvel Zombies but stayed the same. He went through this argument with a few of his books compared to Bendis's books, but they didn't talk about trades, which are a major factor. I work at a major retail bookstore that isn't Barnes and Noble and I can tell you that people come in for Marvel Zombies and have no idea what Walking Dead is. They see Captain America all fucked up and want to buy it, and I talk to them about Kirkman's "other" zombie book and that is when they buy it. Trades are a HUGE part of the market now, it's similar to DVD sales, where people don't want to spend money on the issues when they can get a final product. It's also much more acceptable to read a "graphic novel" and not a "comic book" for most people, so they do get purchased more, and make up a good portion of the market. Plus dude just does the only zombie comic that isn't absolutely awful that you can get anywhere and a Superman parody book that's pretty ok when you read it for free at your shitty bookstore job, but not worth buying. Just sayin.



I also went to the Marvel Comics panel which was more like a self admitted market research session where Bendis, C.B. Cebulski, and Dan Slott just sat around and they asked us straight up what we wanted in comics and what we hated. Not just Marvel Comics, over all. It was a press conference without the bullshit and was some what refreshing to talk to these creators about continuity, Secret Invasion and the aftermath, and why thought balloons are for queerby bad writers. Talking trash about Bendis' writing and him being real about it was great and showed me he's not just full of shit. It was interesting to see a room full of people who are all different, and how many people don't understand that comics change. Some people's responses to "what could we be doing different?" was to yell out for their favorite character to be used more. Other people's reactions to an overall positive discussion was to be just plain rude about characters dying off or being put on hold. I finally decided to raise my hand and bring up that Marvel comics, particularly X-Men and Avengers, are extremely hard for new readers to get into. I said the words "continuity is the killer" and surprisingly that's when Bendis interrupted the next person in the audience to talk about how he also believes this, even though he's one of the biggest problems. Slott talked at great length about having to do what "the team" wants you to do and what you as a writer want to do, and the conflicts that lead to people's departure from the company when they aren't team players. At times the conversation would turn to two fans talking and the focus would be off of the creators and that's what made the panel special to me, that we actually mattered. They didn't bad mouth any other companies like Image had been all day, and Bendis even talked about how much he liked Batman. I know I'm this Marvel nerd guy but it really was refreshing to hear the voices of these comics I read talking about the comics like fans without really dropping any bombs or it being an exhibition of what their comics are, it was about who we were as fans and what we wanted. They are the "bad guys" or whatever but they still are dudes who read comics and want the best comics in the world to be made, so they're good in my book.

Also, I'm taller than Bendis and that's pretty weird to me. He also seemed like someone to get a picture with because that's what people do at Comic-Con? I guess it's like autographs or something, but with your face. Also there's this weirdo dude behind us wearing a "SON OF FANBOY" shirt. That's cool, right?



The best booths were the Zapp Comics, our hometown boys Cosmic Comix, and Laughing Ogre Comics. Dollar comics that were new and not just throw aways, 50% off brand new trades, and tons of other great crap to waste your money on.

Haul Highlights:


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Soul's Winter By: Michael Zulli - I've been trying to get into the Ninja Turtles stuff but can't find a good starting point, and I thought this was awesome and weird so I got it. Shredder is gnarly and Splinter is straight up scary. 50% off ten bucks, not bad.


Eastman and Laird's Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Original Vol. 1 Series Treasury Edition By: Eastman and Laird



Tor: Volume 1 By: Joe Kubert - After reading the newer DC series I wanted to get some of the older issues, but after seeing some of their prices I went over to Cosmic Comix's booth and grabbed the first volume that has the original stories for half price, so it only cost me $25, which after looking through It's obviously well worth it with all the extras and sketches of the original Tor stoires.




Bombshell Boobies By: Yukio Yukimino and La Blue Girl Book 1: Destiny By: Toshio Maeda - I lump these together because on our slow walk towards the exit on the second and last day of the Con, we stopped at a small booth and I flipped through the manga hoping for some gold, and found these two books. The dude running the money box said "Are you actually going to read those? heheheh" and smiled with this twenty five year old braces shining. I asked how much they were and threw down four bucks for the two and bought my first two weirdo japanese comics, Boobie Bombshell being a collection of fetishes that are more creepy than disturbing, like watching your brother have sex or being attracted to a girl's bent leg. La Blue Girl is just straight tentacle monster rape weird stuff. I think this is going to open the doors for me to get into lots of great horror stuff and sex comics.

Baltimore Comic-Con 2008: David's Take

The 2008 Baltimore Comic-Con was my introduction to the world of comics conventions. Despite having purchased tickets for the whole of the two-day event, I managed to blow through my entire purchasing budget by 3:00 PM Saturday. Some highlights of the event included running into an inexplicably low-profile Richard Starkings, who graciously signed the copies of the Elephantmen: Wounded Animals and War Toys trade paperbacks I purchased and to whom it was my great honor to introduce our humble blog and especially its maiden post; getting an opportunity to buttonhole Kyle Baker and share my opinion that Special Forces is the greatest response to the Iraq War that the comics world has yet to offer; tracking down an issue of Paul Pope's elusive THB, as well as a whole slew of books by Alexandro Jodorowski that I picked up at rock-bottom prices. A particular low-light was the lackluster "debate" between Robert Kirkman and Brian Michael Bendis, in which they simply rehashed their by now familiar positions vis a vis Kirkman's manifesto concerning the issue of established creators moving to producing exclusively creator-owned comics, superfluously enhanced by Kirkman's more or less meaningless sales graphs.


David's Haul:

THB: Comics From Mars #1 by Paul Pope

Silver Surfer #2 by Stan Lee and Moebius

Wolverine: The Jungle Adventure by Walter Simonson, Michael Mignola and Bob Wiacek

The Thing: Freak Show #1-4 by Geoff Johns, Scott Kollins and Andy Lanning

Metal Hurlant #11, featuring stories by Alexandro Jodorowski and others

Doom Patrol #13 and 14 by John Arcudi and Seth Fisher

Kid Eternity #1 and 2 by Grant Morrison and Duncan Fegredo

The Incal: The Epic Conspiracy TPB by Alexandro Jodorowski and Moebius

The Incal: The Epic Journey TPB by Alexandro Jodorowski and Moebius

The Metabarons #2: Aghnar & Oda TPB by Alexandro Jodorowski and Juan Gimenez

The Metabarons #3: Steelhead & DoƱa Vicenta TPB by Alexandro Jodorowski and Juan Gimenez

The Metabarons: Alpha / Omega TPB by Alexandro Jodorowski, Moebius, Juan Gimenez and Travis Charest

Son Of The Gun #1: Sinner TPB by Alexandro Jodorowski and Georges Bess

Son Of The Gun #2: Saint TPB by Alexandro Jodorowski and Georges Bess

Megalex Book #1: The Anomaly TPB by Alexandro Jodorowski and Fred Beltran

Omega The Unknown Classic TPB by Steve Gerber, Mary Skrenes and Jim Mooney

Elephantmen: War Toys Volume 1: No Surrender TPB by Richard Starkings and Moritat

Elephantmen: Wounded Animals TPB by Richard Starkings and Moritat

Baltimore Comic Con 2008: Karen's Haul




















Tales of the Beanworld #4 "Beanish's Break Out" and #9 "A Gift Comes"- Basically I looked all over the place for anything booth to have Beanworld issues, and the ONLY ONE that did had issues which are collected in the volumes that Monique has, not the seven issues which have yet to be published in a collection. If you know anything about the issues I got you can obviously see I was really looking for Tales of the Beanish World, cause that motherfucker rules. #4 was one of the original Beanworld Press issues, and I had to drop eight bones on it, but it was totally worth it.

Legends of the Dark Knight #51 "Snitch"- This was the first back issue I ended up grabbing at the con. LOTDK is pretty great for me because I don't have to worry about any sort of major continuity and they're more fun/ accessable to browse through and collect than other back issues. This one had this awesome Kubert cover I don't have a scan of yet, but I'll try to get it up soon.

Legends of the Dark Knight-Annual 1992 "Vows"- Another reason LOTDK is great for me is you can just pick issues because the covers are awesome, and hopefully you'll get an awesome story, too. I haven't read this yet, but the cover is Comissioner Gordon, apparently shot laying on a woman in a wedding dress who is pointing a gun at someone. Serious, how will this be lame?

X-Men Classic #57 "Kitty's Fairy Tale"- Honestly, I've been reading the Avengers Fairy Tale books, and I have the Spiderman Fairy Tales trade, and for the most part they are awesome. I discovered this while helping Sammy's then seven year old sister pick out what comics to buy. This one also had this sweet Mignola cover that caught my eye, as most Mignola covers tend to do.

RabbitHead by Rebecca Dart- David got this graphic novel a year or so ago and it looks awesome. I saw parts of it in the Best American Comics Anthology from 2006 and was pretty into it, and the booth where I got this and the rest of my graphic novels had them for half off, so it was only like two bucks.

Last Lonely Saturday by Jordan Crane- If you see this, just get it. Get anything you can find by Jordan Crane. Being old is so fucked.

Powr Mastrs vol. 1 by CF- I'm not so sure about this one, but I was really caught up in buying all this shit from that one booth. It's some hoity-toity indie bullshit, maybe. I like alot of hoity-toity indie bullshit.

Little Vampire Vol. 1 by Joann Sfar- Everything this dude does is awesome. I'm not even jewish but I was so pissed when I found out only one volume of Klezmer was published in english.

Louis Riel by Chester Brown- I'd been eyeing some single issues of this in our local comic store Cosmic Comix. Plus, I heard it was good and I'm into the art.

Prince Valiant Vol. 28 "Savage Girl" by Hal Foster- I got this for my queerby brother. He got a bunch of Prince Valiant comics from out of our grandparents house, and I guess they're cool? Also for my queerby brother I got...

This Gwen Stacey Tumbler-

Dude's name is Peter. It seemed appropriate.

Some non-comic things I got were this signed Beanworld print from the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund table.


And I got this awesome Bernie Wrightson tote with this zombie bursting up out of the ground. Some of us went to his lecture thing and aside from dealing with probably the only motherfucker at Comic Con who doesn't know how to run a power point presentation, I thought it was interesting enough to go and get something of his.

EDIT: KAREN IS STUPID
I made this post while I was at school today and I totally forgot about these three Judge Dredd "Megazines" I got. Each has part of these six stories, so they're like anthologies kind of. I got this Judge Dredd/ Batman trade at Cosmic Comix at a 50% off sale this summer and it totally ruled, so I figure these three for a dollar each wasn't a bad bet.

I also forgot those Heroclix Brandon mentions in his recap. I got this Plastic Man, but he's just the stretchy version, not the mailbox or the hang-glider version. And I got this little Gotal Mercenary figure, which is part of the Star Wards Heroclix or some shit? Ask Jesse about that, I just thought it looked cool. And free.

Worst Moment: Sammy taking the batteries out of my camera Saturday night so dudes could play Smash Brothers and then not putting them back and not being able to take pictures on Sunday OR (and more seriously) walking back to our car in the rain and my Beanworld print getting a little warped.
Best Moment: Standing in the middle of this aisle with Monique, Moonshine and Peter and talking shit on all these nerds for like 45 minutes. To whom it may concern: Flesh colored corduroy bucket hats are not the way to go. CC dudes from Richmond: Fuck your state.

Expect a more detailed recap and analysis of SPX coming up this weekend. I am kind of the resident indie queerby here, and I'm like 99% sure I'm going to quit my job tomorrow, so I'll have all the damn time I need.

9/26/2008

Comics For Serious Twitters the Baltimore Comic-Con


If you are into twittering, add us! Otherwise, we will be twitellating from the side bar giving you some updates on our whereabouts and activities.
ONE.

Hellboy: The Crooked Man #3

The last issue of “The Crooked Man” was legitimately fucking scary. Most horror comics, like horror movies, aren’t actually scary or anything, but Mignola hit this weird anything can happen sense of narrative that when mixed with Richard Corben’s signature art didn’t really read like anything else.

The moment where it suddenly went from noon to midnight, foreshadowed by a striking image of wailing witches flying through the air, the gaggle of down syndrome redneck witches surrounding the church were so rarified and disturbing that it made the appearance of the titular Crooked Man almost an afterthought.

This latest (and final) issue wraps the story up and turns the Crooked Man into an actual character, which really does make him less scary and switches the focus from creeped-out Lovecraft-ian atmosphere to something close to say, Jeeper Creepers. There’s nothing wrong with this and once again, Mignola’s narrative hits this point where the “anything can happen” feeling that only comics give you gets beyond palpable. It’s crazy to see Hellboy pierced by some stakes in the fence thrown by the Crooked Man, and it gets weirder from there.

And Corben’s art is the perfect match to all this. Like the Crooked Man himself, Corben’s work is great because it’s unpredictable. He does lots of weird stuff with perspective, sometimes purposefully giving someone a head that’s a little too big or present an image from some odd angle like it’s got a fisheye lens on it or something. There’s also the weird effect of it being really cartoony but not fun or cute at all. There’s lot of Silver Age sound effects and ‘Looney Tunes’ smoke. It’s all pretty ugly, but it’s never too much.

Mignola’s writing is similar. He treats the Appalachian Mountains the same way he’s treated some weird, fucked-up town in Eastern Europe, which is refreshing because it would be easy to fumble into grotesque caricature dealing with the South. It’s also not too cute and sensitive either. Tom Ferrell’s a skinny-ass redneck, but he’s a human too with fears and concerns who just wants to do the right thing. He’s given an amazing level of bravery when his response to the Crooked Man’s request for the cat bone that’s protected Tom is simply: “…he’s got me. Fair’s fair, I used that cat bone.”

One of the smarter aspects of Mignola’s writing is the way the story never wraps up as quickly as you expect it to. Sometimes this is a bit frustrating and makes a story feel overlong, but it’s a great way of throwing in some final weird emotions that wouldn’t fit if plot--instead of character and emotion--were the sole focus for Mignola. Additionally, it adds a sober, realistic aspect to the story's end. The pathetic creature clutching the gold, Hellboy and Tom walking in the woods the day after, the return to reality after all the supernatural stuff.

Beanworld "? and !" Doubletake



At first I wasn't sure if I wanted to write my own post about the MDHP Beanworld, just because I find it really hard to articulate what is probably just this stupid kneejerk aversion to things that are digitally drawn, based on my lack of interest, and consequent skill in the medium. But it's not that tablet drawing or whatever doesn't have it's uses, it's just that when applied to Beanworld, or when done over original scans like these images from Larry Marder's blog, so much of the initial charm and line quality is lost.

In old issues of Beanworld, and the black and white version you can see on the link, you really get a sense of Marder's hand in the drawings. You can see where pressure was applied in the little jiggly marks around everyone, and all of their limbs seem way more stable. I don't mean to sound like this Beanworld fanatic, and I'm probably going to, but a huge part of why I Love Beanworld is how inclusive it is. Marder's mantra, "It's not a product, it's a process" can only partially give non-Beanworld readers a sense of the feeling of becoming a part of this completely different, but entirely relatable world. Over the time spent reading the series, you begin to feel more comfortable with the workings of the Beanworld community and ecology. You feel a personal connection to each character, and equally to Marder himself, who is so present in Beanworld through his art and the overall spirit in each character and the work as a whole. Obviously, I'm kind of saying Marder is this God of Beanworld, and I'm being more passionate here than I've ever been about any sort of notion of God in the real world, but whatever. Fuck the haters, I love Beanworld.

Anyway, in the version done over in color, and throughout a lot of the MDHP story, the beans' limbs and bodies seem a little more loosely drawn, or like, what happens when you try to draw with a mouse vs. your own hand. It's a little shaky, and it just looks like anyone could've done it. It totally ruins the feeling of seeing old friends that new Beanworld material should have.



Another problem I have with the new, digitally drawn Beanworld is the color. Monique touches on that some in her post, and I actually don't have the same problem as her with the gradated backgrounds, but that's the only tolerable use of color I can see. Again, we see use of digital techniques taking away from the original aesthetic appeal of the comic.



The way Marder shades with hatch marks appeals to me personally, just because it's more visually interesting, and for that reason that's how I tend to shade when drawing. You can see in the color version of Beanish above how it looks when it's just done digitally, and I can't really say anything else other than it looks shitty.

Monique also already commented on the problems of using the MDHP Beanworld as an introduction to non-Beanworld readers. Outside of not really making a lot of sense and maybe being too boring for new readers, I would worry that maybe seeing all these baby beans would give first time readers the wrong impression about what could appear to be this totally cutesy bullshit.

New readers aren't alone in having some questions, as the use of color for the first time in a black and white world opens up some new discoveries and questions from older readers as well (Granted there has been color Beanworld merchandise, but I never considered that those colors would actually be present in the world itself). Chow soldiers' lower halves are both blue and red, which match their shoes. So they've just been wearing these weird pants the whole time? And so then if Beanish changed his pants when he broke out, how come the Boom'r Band is blue? And if Beanish's "hair" is green, since they're only a couple of chips he picked up, could Beanish's Look See Shows have been in color? What would they have in Beanworld to color things with? Or make pants for that matter?

Honestly, I wouldn't mind if Marder never gave us these answers, and just went back to black and white so we can all pretend this color thing never happened.

Dark Horse Presents Issue 14: Beanworld "? and !" 1


On September 3rd, Beanworld made its 21st century debut as a feature of issue 14 of MySpace Dark Horse presents (MDHP). This is the first time there has been new Beanworld material since 1993. Just in case your arithmetic is bad, that's 15 years without any new Beanworld! If you are unfamiliar with Tales of the Beanworld but are an avid follower of the online issues of MDHP, you are probably thinking, "what the fuck is this shit?" and rightfully so. I'm a big fan of "Beanworld" and I am chomping at the bit for any sort of new material but I think that there are a few issues with Marder's choice to release new material via MDHP.

From what I gather, MDHP has an 8 page limit. I can see why Marder would have decided against using the 8 pages to explain the comic because:

a. thats probably not enough pages to fully explain it to a new reader

and

b. it would be publishing material that isn't really new.

"Beanworld" is simply too complicated and too involved to develop in just eight pages. For people that haven't read the comic before, there's no opportunity for them to really grasp the complex "Beanworld" community that's been developing since the first Eclipse Comics-published issue in 1985. Larry Marder's creation isn't really like any other comic ever and that means it doesn't have an easy-to-grasp or easy-to-sell concept or anything close to it. You take a deep breath before you answer anyone's question as to what this comic's all about.

Each issue or like, story arc, drops some new variable into the environment that shakes the Beanworld up, but it's all based on what's happened before it and so, this eight-pager's attempt to throw in a new theme with little context just doesn't really work, even if it's a concept that's a little easier to grasp than in previous issues. The overarching theme of the short feature is the invention of the idea of recycling and while that is noble, it just doesn't seem like the type of topic to reel in new fans.

The topic doesn't emphasize any of the interesting aspects of Beanworld interactions because there isn't enough space to explain the sensibilities of the characters. Beanworld is an ecologically themed comic, it's circular. Everything is dependent upon something else. I can only liken it to something like Meerkat Manor on animal planet. It's urgent, its "natural", and it's passionate.

Those visiting the MDHP short feature as Beanworld fans will find it equally problematic. The 8 page story isn't quite as complex or as interesting as a previously released issue of the comic because the complexities are down-played for the new readers. Additionally, it was shocking to see a quintessential black and white comic in color. Blasphemous! The addition of color made me feel like comic was more "cutesy" than normal.

Mostly, the color is just really unrelieved. They over-use of black makes it seem like it really just needs to be black and white. And that background, blue-fade really makes my stomach churn. I'm really not trying to be a hater. Maybe MDHP had no interest in publishing it in its black and white form? If so, that would be somewhat excusable but still, a little disheartening that Marder would comprise the presentation of his work, not just on an "integrity" level, but truly making his simple lines and black and white, ugly and photo-shopped. Lucky for us super-fans, Marder recently revealed a post on his blog saying that the graphic novel of new material slated for released in 2009 , Remember Here When You are There, will indeed be in black and white.

9/25/2008

Wolverine Annual #2: Roar



Wolverine Annual #2 is written by Duane Swierczynski and drawn by Mike Deodato Jr. It starts with Wolverine walking through the New Mexico desert looking for a drink. He ends up in the town Roamer, thanks to a kid in a diner and Google Earth, but finds the town deserted. After investigation he realizes that the entire town is in hiding from the Navajo Coyote, a werewolf with an ear splitting roar that breaks Logan's ear drums and throws him off balance. Even with his healing factor giving him his hearing back, he can't regain balance quickly enough to fight.



The art is dark and detailed, as we've come to expect from Deodato, who has been drawing Wolverine for a while now in Wolverine: Origins. The double sized comic is worth the 3.99 price point that has been pushing me away from a lot of Marvel one-shots lately, and is the kind of story that makes Wolverine awesome and not the annoying guy I thought he was when I was a kid. Other heroes spend a lot of time in their suits, even if they are just sitting around waiting for the next crisis. Wolverine is this dude who wears a wife beater and jeans with a ruck sack on his back and a cowboy hat pulled down low. He just wants to drink a few beers and be left alone but has no problem throwing down if he sees somebody being a jerk.



He's essentially an every man with claws and a healing factor, but when he puts on his suit, it's like Hawk in Over the Top and Wolverine has flipped a switch from Ol' Uncle Logan to the leader of X-Force and killer of thousands. Wolverine comics stand alone because no other super hero does the things he does, and I don't mean killing and having weird hair. He works on his own a lot, hearing a rumor of a group in need or mutants who have been attacked, and travels on his own, outside of the X-Men, outside of the Avengers, and does what has to be done, what other heroes are afraid to do.

These sad little one shots give Wolverine so much more character than even the Origins story line and help the character grow without you realizing it. You just feel bad for him because he's constantly left doing something no one else wants to because everyone just assumes he's so fucked up nothing even gets to him anymore. His healing factor leaves him with no scars but he feels every time he gets stabbed or shot and even though he's seen everyone he loves die, he still gets bummed when he has to kill another misunderstood monster.

The Ol' Ball Game



So, Jim Lee is throwing out the first pitch at the Orioles' game tomorrow to kick off the Baltimore Comic Con. This is a really great idea. I'm not really a huge fan of Lee's work or anything, I mean he's cool but maybe too cool. It's idea of combining comics and baseball that's exciting. Comics and baseball have always sort occupied the same sort of space in my brain. This sort of vision of America where kids play backyard baseball and talk about super heroes along the way. They invoke sort of this quintessential feeling of America, of innocence, and childhood. When you are a kid you look up to sports players the same way you would a super hero. You memorize positions, powers, stats, teams, and super teams.

It's no coincidence that when Superman Returns showcases the Superman-saves-plane scene that he sets the plane down in a baseball stadium. It's a classic scene in comics, and by using baseball the movie shows us that they are playing with the classic myths of Superman and not trying to update him entirely. The roar of the crowd for Superman is the same feeling people have when they cheer their favorite player. The movie uses it sincerely and it gets at the heart of what makes Superman a great character.

There was also this cover on Sport Illustrated during the summer. It's a weird joke to make because it's making the assumption is that most of the readers know Bizzaro Superman. At the very least it's comfortable that they will safe in the connection between baseball players and super heroes having something in common in our minds.

Also...

and...

9/24/2008

All Star Superman #12: The Anxiety of Influence

The two reviews of the final issue of All-Star Superman that have appeared in this forum have made particular note of the development of Frank Quitely's illustrations. Going over my copy of that comic, I was struck by the familiarity of several of the images (and indeed imagery) presented and I thought I would share a few examples with you here.

Tor-El?


As both Brandon and Jesse indicated in their respective reviews of this issue, the illustrations of all the major characters show a particular intensity of line work intended to show the decadence of age. The following image of Jor-El additionally evoked for me, in its design and aspect, the image of Tor that begins the second issue of Kubert's current series:





Darrow by way of Quitely


Note the similarity, particularly in the detail work, between the image portraying Luthor as he smashes an automobile and Geof Darrow's cover for the first issue of Frank Miller's Hard Boiled:





Meta-Metropolis


The final image of Superman as celestial clockwork operator brought to my mind several of the images of the laborers in the underground factory in Fritz Lang's Metropolis:



Abe Sapien: The Drowning


One of the many things that makes Mike Mignola's constatly-growing Hellboy universe so great is how everything matters. Nothing feels tossed-off or less significant than something else. Certain series aren't "events"--events are of course, the current bane of comics' existence--and certain series aren't more fun or unimportant (except for "Weird Tales" and "Hellboy Junior"). Every "Hellboy" sub-series fills in some chronological holes, answers some questions or poses new ones, and still gives you plenty of cool monsters and usually finds time to sneak up emotionally devastate you somewhere along the way too.

Abe Sapien: The Drowning is probably the best sub-series yet and it comes out today as a trade. A five-issue series that started earlier this year, written by Mignola and drawn by Jason Shawn Alexander, The Drowning tells the story of Abe Sapien's first mission without Hellboy and the mission's absolute failure. Everything about the mission is presented as second-rate, from it taking place on Saint-Sebastien in France (not the famous city in Spain), to constant references from B.P.R.D agents that it's Hellboy that gets all the exciting jobs, to of course, it being placed in the hands of the rather inexperienced Abraham Sapien.

The "hook" of this series, the relating point of it all--if you stripped it off its connection to the Hellboy universe and the mythology of Saint Sebastian, and a bunch of bad-ass water monsters--is the first day of your first big job where everything's gone wrong. Of course, it's not some office job or something, so the consequences are every ounce of Abe's self-confidence in the shadow of Hellboy, and a whole lot of guilt about his perceived responsibility for the death of some B.P.R.D agents. Abe's a really nice and sensitive guy, he doesn't hide his emotions in jokes or hard-ass quotables like Hellboy, he just sort of scrunches up and gets really upset, which makes this series more of a psychological portrait of guilt and learning that the world's fucked, than your typical Hellboy story.

Usually, Mignola buries the emotions behind adventure and Lovecraft-like atmospherics, but here, the most memorable stuff is the moments of Abe freaking out. The plot about the island and the forces that protect a century-dead Warlock are there, but they're muddled even by Mignola's standards--although I think it's supposed to be as confusing for the reader as it is for Abe--and are really, just a vehicle in which we enter into Abe's guilts and fears.

This is some of Mignola's most direct and emotional writing and it's matched quite well by the more realistic art of Jason Shawn Alexander. We're mainly used to seeing Mignola's own art or the significantly more cartoony work of Guy Davis, but here, Alexander's work, a mix of Scott Hampton's wisely sloppy lines and Jae Lee's realism (but none of the rigidity of Lee's art), takes a more sober and overtly serious take on the Hellboy universe, which fits the "it's really, really fucked but it'll be okay in the end, I promise" tone of the story.

In issue #2, there's a particularly affecting dream sequence in which Abe, struggling to get someone, anyone from B.P.R.D on the phone, imagines Hellboy appearing and yelling at him for the failed mission. "What the Hell were you thinking?", a Hellboy-shaped shadow asks, and for a moment we think it's Hellboy to save the day, and on the next page, out of the shadow, he asks "What made you think you were ready for this?". It's followed by a page of others similarly chastising Abe until he finally explodes at the imagined versions of his friends. We're totally in Abe's head for this sequence as it's drawn and presented as realistically as the rest of the issue and it's disturbing to see Abe's friends being so cruel, which only serves to highlight just how overwhelmed and guilt-ridden Abe is at this point; he's paranoid, out of his head, imagining his best friends losing all their sympathy.

The final issue of the series ends with the real-life version of the events Abe imagined in #2. It begins with a solitary image of Abe, sadly perched on a boat looking out at the ocean--actually, quite similar to the Herzog image from Nosferatu I blabbed on about here--and is followed by a reverse angle of Abe apologizing to Bruttenholm, who of course, tells him it wasn't his fault and means it: "It was a bad situation...No one could have foreseen what would happen." The rest of the scene is intercut between Abe and the Professor talking and strangely affecting images back at Saint Sebastien (B.P.R.D clean-up crew, the townspeople, a dead boy), illustrating the aftermath, both happy and sad, of the mission.

Silver Surfer At the Movies

For whatever reason, that like, non-sequitur scene where the two dudes argue about the Silver Surfer from Crimson Tide just popped into my head. A little research reveals that comics nerd Quentin Tarantino did an uncredited rewrite on this movie and it's safe to assume he was the "brains" behind this exchange:

Hunter: Rivetti, what's up?
Petty Officer First Class Danny Rivetti: I'm sorry, Sir. It's just a difference of opinion that got out of hand.
Hunter: What about?
Petty Officer First Class Danny Rivetti: It's really too silly to talk about, Sir. I'd really just forget about...
Hunter: I don't give a damn about what you'd rather forget about. Why were you two fighting?
Petty Officer First Class Danny Rivetti: I said, the Kirby Silver Surfer was the only real Silver Surfer. And that the Moebius Silver Surfer was shit. And Bennefield's a big Moebius fan. And it got of hand. I pushed him. He pushed me. I lost my head, Sir. I'm Sorry.
Hunter: Rivetti, you're a supervisor. You can get a commission like that.
Snaps finger
Petty Officer First Class Danny Rivetti: I know, Sir. You're 100 percent right. It will never happen again.
Hunter: It better not happen again. If I see this kind of nonsense again, I'm going to write you up. You understand?
Petty Officer First Class Danny Rivetti: No answer
Hunter: Do you understand?
Petty Officer First Class Danny Rivetti:Yes, Sir.
Hunter: You have to set an example even in the face of stupidity. Everybody who reads comic books knows that the Kirby Silver Surfer is the only true Silver Surfer. Now am I right or wrong?
Petty Officer First Class Danny Rivetti: You're right, Sir.
Hunter: Now get out of here.
Petty Officer First Class Danny Rivetti: Yes, Sir.

9/23/2008

Attention Must Be Paid



Airheads is just one of those movies that reruns on Comedy Central like five times a month, and it's definately not that great, but hey, maybe there's nothing else on and you want to watch Kramer crawl around in a ventilation system, so whatever. Then maybe a bunch of years go by and you start reading a lot of comic books. And then maybe you don't have TV anymore in your apartment, so you walk to Target to see what cheap movies they have for sale, and Airheads and PCU doesn't seem like such a bad idea for ten bucks. So you're watching it and you're all like "Oh, what's that on Brendan Fraser's shirt?"

JUST A CHOW SOLDIER AND A LIL BABY BEAN.

And at first you're like, what the fuck, but then you realize that to have this character who changed his name from Chester to Chazz but kept on representing the Beanworld because it's seriously that great and appeals to so many people in so many different ways is totally genius.

True story.

And if you want, you can buy a white, XL, apparently kinda sweaty version of that shirt on Ebay.

Glamourpuss #3: Take 2


If you take what he writes at the beginning of issue #1 at face value, Dave Sim's intention when he set out to create what became Glamourpuss was to represent "cute teenaged girls in my best Al Williamson photo-realism style." Basically, the guy who wrote, drew and published Cerebus for near on three decades aimed to spend his middle years meticulously drawing latter-day Lolitas.

Dr. Flem




The first issue of this book was so exciting because the reader was essentially allowed to peer in on the creative process of one of the singular artists in the comics world and watch as his desire to draw jailbait grew into a more or less systematic essay on the history of photo-realistic technique in comics illustration framed in a satirical evaluation of fashion culture. Never mind that I knew nothing of the history of photo-realistic illustration or any of the artists mentioned, it was exciting to see that in the pages of Rip Kirby could be found the inspiration for the characters of Joe and Dr. Flem from Mike Allred's Madman series or even that one panel bore an uncanny resemblance to a scene of Vittorio de Sica and Daniel Darrieux dancing in Max Ophuls' The Earrings of Madame de . . .

Joe




The series' second issue expanded upon the whimsical seriousness of the first as Sim took the opportunity to pepper his continuing examination of comics illustration with long, humorous and yet deadly serious satires on issues of psychotropic medication and the commodification of sex and youth. As Brandon intimated in his own review of the third issue, issue #2 was a complicated (yet not exactly difficult) read, precisely because Sim seemed to carefully juxtapose the issues of large-scale clinical depression in post-industrial culture and the cheapening of romance with the issues that faced the overworked and under-appreciated pioneers of the comics medium. What could very easily have devolved into a seemingly fractured, undisciplined mash of content, instead comes together as something of a grand organic blending of wildly disparate thematic material into a seamless whole.

The Earrings of Madame de . . . ?




The series' third issue, on the other hand, has something of the feel of a throwaway--or at the very most a bridge issue. The main 'meat' of the issue is devoted to what at first might seem to be a considered close reading of a photograph depicting Rube Goldberg, Alex Raymond and Milt Caniff as Raymond is named the third president of the National Cartoonists Society. Sim's suggestions of veiled aggression in the handshake between Caniff and Raymond seems only mildly plausible on close inspection of the images. Sim follows his analysis of the photo with comparisons of illustrations of the two artists, suggesting that Raymond's apparent adoption of Caniff's style might be the source of the latter's ire. The whole presentation may have proved more informative and ultimately more successful if Sim had limited his analysis to an evaluation of the development of the art of the respective creators and set aside his speculations concerning petty rivalries.

The satirical aspect of the issue was similarly disappointing as Sim seems to have eschewed the more cerebral and fully fleshed circumlocutions of the first two issues with a series of single-page spoof ads knocking everything from the price of designer perfumes to the phenomenon of celebrity marriages. The problem here lies in the fact that what Sim is doing feels like nothing more than a hand-drawn, black-and-white issue of Adbusters. It isn't exactly that there is anything wrong with the sort of satire and social commentary peddled by Adbusters per se, it is just that they have been doing it for decades, which only seems to add to the notion that Dave Sim's is in many ways embarrassingly behind the times.