Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Go on Sweet Prince!

Top Shelf Says Goodbye to Chunky Rice
from The Comics Journal #270
Posted July 29th, 2005
Top Shelf Publisher Chris Staros confirmed to the Journal that Craig Thompson will be taking his breakthrough graphic novel Goodbye Chunky Rice to Pantheon. Thompson had previously confirmed to the Journal that his next work would done for Pantheon, but the fate of his Top Shelf backlist, including the popular, award-winning Blankets and Carnet de Voyage, remained in question. Staros said Blankets and Carnet de Voyage are still under contract to Top Shelf, and he is still negotiating with Thompson in hope of renewing the contracts. Staros who said he had invested a great deal in helping Thompson develop his work and career, is finding it hard not to take the defection personally.

Let him be. He's showing that the creator that are out there can go and do the next thing. You'll always be seen as the dude who found him.... right?

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Teenage Boys and Teenage Girls

Dirk Deppey has a great editorial in the new Comics Journal, which you can also read online, called "She's Got Her Own Thing Now." The issue, and the article, are about shoujo manga, Japanese graphic novels for for teenage girls:

Speaking for myself, the straw that broke the camel's back fell during this year's Emerald City Con in Seattle. I'd stepped out to smoke a cigarette and was watching the passersby. I noticed a family leaving the convention -- a Mom, a Dad, and a little girl no older than eight years of age. The girl was decked out in a beautiful, elaborate kimono and clearly distressed by what she'd just encountered. "But they didn't hardly have any manga at all!" she said as they walked away.

When I was done with my cigarette, I went back inside and relayed this story to an acquaintance prominent in the art-comics publishing scene. "I hate to say it, but good," was his reply. Indeed, I told the story several more times that day, to both indy-comics and superhero-comics professionals, and the reaction was more or less the same each time. A young reader disappointed by the selection offered to her? Good. The future of comics walks out the door, unable to find what she wants? Good. I left the convention early, lost in a foul mood. I swear: I love the comics art form with a passion, but my utter contempt for the American comics industry grows like a cancer with each passing day.

Every July or August I get to really thinking about comics and graphic novels, creatively and professionally; I also get to thinking about manga. How manga reaches a much broader audience, both in Japan and the US, then American comics do, and about how Japanese storytelling hits certain beats that aren't as embedded in my brain as Western storytelling moments are. Going to see Howl's Moving Castle made me think of this--even though it's based on a Western novel, it's adapted and directing by a Japanese filmmaker, and I just didn't know where the story was going or how it would unfold at times. It still has that classic three-act structure, sure, but that's just the bare-bones of it. The muscle and flesh built on top of the skeleton does things that surprise me in ways Western stories and movies usually don't, even the unconventional ones.

But whenever I get that itch to explore manga, I go to the local bookshop or comic store and stand before the racks and racks of manga--the local borders has about four times as many manga titles as American super-hero books--and I just get lost. There's so much, and I don't know the nuances of it all. I can flip open a super-hero title and get the gist of it, recognize the artist or the kind of story being told, know the era the comic is from and probably the company that put it out. I know genres, sub-genres and tendencies of the artists and writers involved, and I know whether or not I want to keep reading. But with manga, I just don't know what's what--I'm not educated in it, I don't recognize the patterns that are surely there to see, I don't know what to start with, what to move on to, where to go. So I tend to skink away, promise to come back a little later, and then never do.

But after reading the TCJ article, I went out and picked up a copy of Shonen Jump, the monthly American version of the popular Japanese weekly magazine that serializes a good 300-pages worth of new manga with each issue. Shonen means to boys what shoujo means to girls--they're comics for teenage boys. Yu-Gi-Oh! is one of the serialized stories in the current American version, for example. But I thought it would be a good place to start--a fat packet of culture for five bucks, right?

And Wizard World Chicago is next weekend, so I'll be headed to the 50% off trade-paperback boxes to grab whatever manga looks interesting--girl stuff, boy stuff, adult stuff, all of it. I'm not sure if that thinking-out-loud warrants its own entry here, except to say if anyone has some manga recommendations leave them here in the comments--I'll be keeping my eyes open.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Another Good Feeling.

Finally put the logo up on top. For now it’ll be on my Flickr account, but son I will move it to my server so as not to run the risk of bandwidth problems. What do you guys think?

Monday, July 25, 2005

A good feeling

I just let a little boy count a Calvin and Hobbes collection as a chapter book for his summer reading list. (He didn't think we would let him.)

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Making out with Comics again

Since we're all about sharing the love of comics, I wanted to state a bit of love on Young Avengers:

Written by Allan Heinberg; Art by Jim Cheung, John Dell; Cover by Jim Cheung
MARVEL UNIVERSE | 32 PGS | Color | $2.99
The other listening to the Comic Geek Speak Podcast ( link) I was listening to comics they like of Marvel and heard the Title “Young Avengers” being said. Right there, my mind swirled with this vision of Iron Man, Thor and Captain America with Pacifiers in their mouth, in some horrible Teen Titan rip off attempt to make a cool teen fighting group to appeal to the teens out there in the Teen land of Teen America.
Then in the Podcast, they said it was good. It was a good book. It was? I couldn’t believe it. I thought maybe that the one crap book that’ll make it through the lines of good taste and people will only soon after repent on the alter of Comics for buying this crap. (Like Rob Liefeld fans from the early 90s)
So when I found issue #4 in the bookstore, I raised an eyebrow and took a look; Well that art was good and the bits here and there is spotted seemed great, and Kang looked old school, but now he was menacing and he felt like a villain. I liked it.
So grabbed Issue #4 and #5 and put them on the pile. After digesting all the good books I like and have been waiting for, I got to reading these issues, and you know what? The Comic Geeks (link) were right! This was good! When I started reading about the team and who they were and what there were trying to do, and seeing that it’s a just bunch of Fanboy’s who happen to have Superpowers I really dug them. They were teens too, they really acted like it; now one tried to be the adult here, and they had real worries, like the Appearance of Kang, and his younger self, and their powers and who they were and who lead. Ultimately this showed best when they’re biggest worry was that the Avenger were going to turn them over to the Cops or even worse, their parents! (DUN-DUN-DUN!)
I got this weird happiness form the Young Avengers that seemed familiar, and I pin pointed it now as I was writing this; it reminded me of the early days of the Gen 13 comics back in the 90s. Even though we still had all the idiocy of the prismatic and alternate covers in those days, the comics really stood out in story, the character involved were awesome, at first a bit trite, but sooner or later they were familiar faces to you and you understood their motivations for things, form dialogue to actions. They were fun, young and what’s happening, and when you mix that with superpowers, you gave a damn. Young Avengers delivers on that in this book, but in a less glamorous way but with the same energy it was a great read, and It made me realize that you needs book like these to counter balance at times the hard nosed anti hero plotlines of other books, by being a little bit lighter, human and caring on the developments of the character all the way being a little bit more fun, even in the action. Young Avengers has gone to the top of my list and I hope it can stay like that as long as the stories remain as interesting and ever changing as it has here.

What I may pick up this week:
NYX #6

Currently Reading:
Daredevil Legends
Green Lantern #1 & #2

Of course, not all is good in comics land. Just check out my review of BLOOD OF THE DEMON #5 & #6.
"Gone Gone from the from of Man
Turn into a comic I can not stand!"

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Honey, I Love

..I love how, until the other fellas post again and Jent gets his internet back, this is totally my site. Yeah!!

Having total power makes me feel like talking on one of my favorite subjects: library stuff. I'm a librarian in a big city, and the individual at the top of the library system decreed several years back that comics, graphic novels, etc have no business being in libraries, so we were not going to have any. The rule has relaxed a little since it was imposed; the central library has a decent selection of classic and current books, and most of the local libraries have things like Dark Knight and Watchmen. We also have some collections of popular syndicated strips. And oh yes, we have Tintin. But there's no collections of comic books, no manga (very popular with the kids these days), and we represent only a fraction of the many wonderful graphic novels out there.

It's pretty sad. When I was in library school (about a year ago), I needed some young adult books during a visit to the folks and found that the library in my ultra-conservative little hometown has a solid collection of graphic novels. The shitty library at which I did a two-week stint before Jesus himself outstretched His hands and personally delivered me into a good job was pretty great with the sequentials; they had a large selection of graphic novels and collected strips, and also a full rack of plain-old comic books (X-Men, Superman, Bone etc).* So, basically, if we take these two little suburban libraries as a bellwether for what's going on in the whole country, like I'm doing, our big fancy cityfolk library is way behind the times.

It's also pretty hypocritical. If I swivel my head about 40 degrees to the left I will be looking at one of the largest collections of children's picture books in the city. The definitions for sequential art/graphic novels and picture books are scarily similar: stories told in both words and images, where neither words nor images could convey the story alone. It's just that one is intended for kids and the other is not.

So, why is it that sequential art is beneficial for kids and not for adults?

That is a topic for another blog, plus we're closing so I have to go.

*Both of these libraries kept their graphic novels in the young adult sections, even if they weren't necessarily for young adults. The librarian at the shitty place told me the only one she had qualms about giving to teenagers was "Preacher," because it is so violent. I am currently reading "Preacher" and can attest that this is true, although I'm sure it's no worse than a video game.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Of promises made and forgotten

The time has come, it seems, as it does for all blogs, to turn the discussion to heartbreak. Let me take a deep, shuddery breath and continue with Part Three, the concluding chapter in the story of comics and me and how we came to be:

So, by senior year of college, I was the willing love-slave to Strangers in Paradise, and had dabbled in some others like Schizo, Artbabe, Optic Nerve, etc. I was also reading a lot of stuff by Chris Ware because I had a good friend who had lent me his personal folder of clipped-out newspaper strips---Quimby the Mouse, Jimmy Corrigan, Big Tex, and some randoms. This was the year I was in charge of little old art+performance, my school's super-hip arts magazine. I had one issue to plan, design, and produce, and I decided we would jump on the cool train and do a comics issue.

Friends, it was beautiful. 36 pages, full-color cover (colored by ME, and I'd never done it before), glossy paper. Original work by several nationally known artists and a very talented current student. Interviews with fascinating people, including Ivan Brunetti (on whom I still have a wholly unreasonable and heartfelt art-crush). Essays on such topics as being The Girl in the comics store, animated cartoons we had loved, and even a how-to guide. It was.. majestic.

(To set the scene, let me also tell you that during the 2-week period of heavy production on this issue, in which most nights ended with a 3am ride in the escort car back to my apartment, I was finishing three classes, one of which I had only attended 7 times, studying for finals, writing my honors thesis, of which I deleted half immediately after finishing, working 25 hours a week, and dealing with a recently acquired knitting addiction. Ok, so that was my fault, but I couldn't stop. I was also watching at least three hours of PBS Kids a day and crying a lot.)

And then? It didn't happen. A total motherfucking heartbreak. Our funding fell through at the last minute--because the school funding office forgot to cut a check to the printing company. It was awful... My co-editor and I consoled ourselves with the idea that we'd publish it first thing in the fall. The bitch then spent a glam-o summer in New York City taking all kinds of design classes, got all fancy, and upon returning to campus in the fall (I was graduated and gone), completely scrapped the comics issue and made a whole new one full of flashy pictures. My jaw knocked the phone out of my hand on its way to the floor when she told me. Never printed, none of the material ever used, including the original art!

My heart and soul! Poured out, then blotted up by a funding error and an Illustrator ego. It was a long while before I could read comics again. Too harsh. The disappointment still tears at me on occasion, like, when I think about it.

Oh well.

A year later I took a class on graphic novels and I read some more good stuff. 100 Bullets started my heart on the road to repair. It's just that good.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

And for your penance..

I've been saying rosaries all day to punish myself for never picking up Meat Cake. The covers just never looked interesting. Dame Darcy, can you forgive an old fool?

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Doin It and Doin It and Doin It Well

My quest for a randomly enjoyed superhero comic has met a successful end!

Well, it begins again anew with every trek to the comics shop, whether it ends in success or failure, but this week, at least, it ended well. I picked up #2 of BATMAN: DARK DETECTIVE by Steve Englehart, Marshall Rogers, and Terry Austin. I picked it up because I liked the cover--because the cover looked like a superhero comic I would have bought 20 years ago, even though I've never been a big Batman fan. It shows a bunch of Batman villains--the Joker, the Penguin, Two-Face, and more--ready for battle. In the foreground, as if we're looking over his shoulder, is the side of Batman's face--he's a little taller than us and we can just barely peek under the nose of his cowl. The title on the cover: "by love . . . BETRAYED!"

Hell, yes!

I didn't kow what his min-series was, but the art looked pretty John Severin-like as I flipped through it. Apparently it's a reunion of heavy hitting 70's bat-team, but it's set in present-day continuity. BUT, even though it's set in the present, I was so-not-lost, even though I haven't been keeping up on all of the latest pre-INFINITE CRISIS hullaballoo.


(. . . this is the best part . . .)

Stuff happens in the book! Stuff happens in the book, and it's fun to read, and it makes sense, and it's self-contained in a way that doesn't leave you confused, yet moves the story ahead, yet makes you want to read the next issue. Will Two-Face kill the Joker if J. doesn't drop out of the governor's race? Will the *other* candidate for governor find out that Batman/Bruce Wayne is rollin' around on the ground with his lady, and Bruce's ex, Silver St. Cloud? What the heck is the Scarecrow up to, dressing as policemen and planting slow-acting gas on Batman's cape?

I mean, egads, folks! Them's is good comics!

My other attempt this week was #4 of Spider-Man/Human Torch, because it seemed to be set in the post-Secret Wars era black costume/Black Cat days. It was, but alas, it didn't live up to those stories I used to enjoy. I'll pass on more issues of Spidey/Torch, but Dark Detective is one I'll be returning to.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Composite Superman!

Speaking of action figures . . . I went to the comic shop today. I've been out of the loop I guess, because I was 100% surprised to find a Composite Superman figure on the shelf. One of the very first comics I owned was an issue of DC's WHO'S WHO series that was simply an encyclopedic list of the heroes and villains of the DCU. I left that thing in tatters, man--eventually I picked up a replacement copy just for nostalgia's sake. The appeal of that comic was that I didn't read any DC books, but here was a whole list of new heroes and villains to pit against Spider-Man and the Avengers in the comics I was making up myself. And the one that really blew my mind was this guy:

Composite Superman! He's got green skin and he has a costume that's a split-down-the-middle amalgamation of Superman and Batman. And if that wasn't weird enough, according to the back of the box, he has all of the powers of the Legion of Super-Heroes.

It's just weird, man. I'm not even sure it makes sense. He was a villain, according to my copy of WHO'S WHO, but in my six year old brain, green skin + Superman + Batman = Ultimate Superhero.

I wish the figure wasn't twenty bucks, though. I don't buy action figures these days, but I would totally set that one up on my desk. It's everything I dig about superhero comics these days.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Subway Pirates!

I haven't been to the comic shop in ages.

I might make it tomorrow.

In the meantime, the new Entertainment Weekly lists "5 Reasons We Love SEVEN SOLDIERS," and at least one of them got me thinking:

"5: Morrison stuffs each issue--each page--with myriad wild ideas, a long-evolving style he calls 'compression.' It reaches maturity in SOLDIERS. 'Most comics spread a story too thin,' says Morrison. 'I'm throwing down the gauntlet. I'm saying 'Pick up your game.'"

I've only seen one issue of GUARDIAN so far, one of Morrison's SEVEN SOLDIERS titles, but in the first few pages we're introduced to this idea of subway pirates--they hijack subwar cars and run them on forgotten tracks in the underground rail system of New York City. They're tattooed and pierced and scary, looking like a good pirate should, and I can't help but think that in the hands of other writers, the idea of subway pirates would have been drawn out for six issues--first, the mystery of disappearing cars, by issue two Our Hero finds an outdated map showing unused lines, and maybe by issue 3 or 4 we get our first sight of the pirates. But with Morrison, and with GUARDIAN, we get right to the action. There's no slow reveal of what we already know is going to happen from reading PREVIEWS two months ago--subway pirates, page two, and on page three, more adventure!

I know I've gone on about ALL-STAR SUPERMAN already, but from what I hear the destruction of Krypton happens in the first quarter of the first page, and the rest of the issue is sci-fi superheroics. From time to time I think I might want to pick up a random issue of a superhero comic, just for the pure, four-color enjoyment of it; and in my heart of hearts, I'll always be a Marvel kid. I really like Spider-Man, for example, but I know if I pick up an issue of ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN I'm as likely to get a four page spread of security guards talking about Spider-Man as I am 30 pages of a fight scene that still isn't resolved by the end of the issue. That's "writing for the trade," I guess, or what the kids these days are calling "decompression," but it's just bad storytelling, to me. It's what makes the new STAR WARS pictures seem so thin. Also in a recent issue of ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY (you see where I get all of my media news, huh?) George Lucas said that 60% of the backstory he had for the prequels is in EPISODE III, while the other 40% was spread between the other movies. That's awful! That's the worst thing I've ever HEARD from the mouth of George Lucas, including the dialogue he's written!

I'm talking about comics, man! Serialized comics, work that comes with an almost 70-year tradition of solid adventure stories, a slice of culture as Mr. Alan Moore likes to call them. I want subway pirates in the first three pages, not at the end of issue four!

Saturday, May 21, 2005

By way of introduction, Part Two

So when DID I first start reading comics, they're all asking..

So here's the thing: I read slow. I've always been a little self conscious about it, being you know, really into books and shit. I also had a hard time getting through books for school in the time we were given. High school, sophomore year: I'm at Barnes and Noble with my dad, on one of our late-night trips. The only things my dad and I have ever really been able to talk about are books and politics, and since at this point I was still interested in being pals with him, every time he asked me if I wanted to go to Barnes and Noble at 9pm I'd say "yes." One night I was looking through copies of Othello because I had to read it for school, and I found the graphic novel version by Oscar Zarate. I figured my teacher wouldn't mind, since it said it was unabridged. I was already translating my world history notes into cartoons in the margins, so I guess I knew that interpreting words and pictures together was easier for me than words alone. Anyway, I kept that comic book Othello around for years and re-read it many times..

Flash forward to freshman year of college, when I saw Chasing Amy and was like "(double take) ...people write comics about love and stuff?!" After watching it several times, I decided to write my own comic. It was loosely based on my angsty teenage adventures at home and school. I came up with a bunch of characters but I only ever wrote two pages. I drew it freehand with a pen and a tube of white-out. I think a lot of it was about my parents.

Sophomore year, when I left school and lived at home for a while and worked at Borders, a really cool-looking girl (rare in my hometown) once asked me if we sold Strangers in Paradise. So the name was familiar to me when my Summer of '00 roommate suggested I read them. I did, and I got so involved in the story that the Emma/plane crash issues gave me stomachaches. I LOVED it. A funny, realistic love-and-friendship story with great characters and a generous dose of violence. It's still the only comic I buy every time it comes out. SIP, I am your bitch.

But SIP did also turn me on to the general world of comics, graphic novels, etc. I started going to Quimby's and CC, and read some things like Eightball, which I didn't like, and My Monkey's Name is Jennifer, which I adored. I also started reading old issues of Artbabe, and a friend had gotten me into the Chris Ware comics in the Reader.

That's totally long enough for one blog.
Coming up next: The Comics Issue That Wasn't!!

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Damn you Jent!

Well thanks to Mathew and his bloody riting, I uped and slummed myself into the local comic shop (one I didin't like too much) and bought Issue 3-6 of "Identity Crisis"
Damn you Jent, now I'm hooked, and looking for issues 1 & 2
Damn you and your infectious love of comics!

On a side note, VIGIL is back 100%

Juan Navarro returns to VIGIL, with a second “season” in the works and
short pieces in between, restarting May 8th, 2005. He kicks off the series with his
short “CAPES,” where reality shows meet supercrime.

After "CAPES," VIGIL will run the short “Pizza Run" and then lead into “Jackie and the Beanstalk,” plus
pin ups by Jon Morris, Jason Martin, Ramon Sierra, Serge' and Tim Kelly. And then, the second season,
as the team heads toward an inevitable showdown with their one-time mightiest member...

Get ready for more great stories of life, death and invulnerability. Stories of powers on the mean, sweaty streets. Stories of the endless VIGIL.

This can also be found on my Blog

Game Logic

Hey Juan, do you think we could get Warren Ellis to start posting here? I don't always like his work these days, or even his Bad Signal emails, but from time to time he says something in them that leads me here to write something instead of just finishing my Red Bull and getting on the train, like I should be doing.

Today he sent one out about "Game Logic." The idea is simple--when something happens because it happens, it's game logic. It can be a jokey moment or a cute moment, but it's something that's not real-world-safe. A good example he gave was from a comic I'm not familiar with, where the hero raises his fist to the audience and exclaims, "Dude!" while his sidekick is shown with a thought balloon, exclaiming to herself, "Dude!"

Warren says, and I'm not going to go into a quoting spree here, but Warren says, "There's no self-consciousness, no irony, no distancing." What happens, happens--and you either buy in, or you don't.

To me, it's a sense of play. It's comics that are FUN and exciting, both to the people making them and to the folks reading them. It's comics where coincidences happen because it serves the story, because it IS a story, and it knows it, and the author knows it, and we know it, too.

I don't like the term Game Logic, but I like the idea behind it. Warren says two good examples of it are SHARKNIFE and SCOTT PILGRIM, so if those titles are as new to you as they are to me, go to the comic shop this week and take a chance on them. And go to Warren's site and sign up for Bad Signal, if you don't mind the occasional email about how he's cranky and tired. It's worth it when one like this comes through.

Monday, May 02, 2005

"With new radiant action"

I guess I started reading comics when I was a little kid, although it was mostly the newspaper funnies.. The only comic book I can remember having was a Foofur adventure.. even though Spiderman was my favorite tv show, I remember being told (I don't know by whom) that comics were "for boys."

Action figures, though. Apparently there were no gender restriction on those mamas. I had a whole bunch of Star Trek guys (thanks, dad), a Spiderman, a Batman and a Robin.. These were not the super-cool touch-every-muscle-it's-real action figures like the ankle nippers have today; they were pretty basic and smooth to the touch. Eventually some of the paint started to flake off Spock and Kirks' faces.

When I was in high school Spiderman and Batman came back on as animated series, so the action figures came back too. Way better ones. I got a Spiderman, but I had moved on by this time to the Tick. Funny as hell, and they had some great toys. I still have mine in a secret location.... The prominently displayed figures in my apartment are the Barista and the Librarian, both purchased for me by my best friend when I was working those jobs. I expect the crazy cat lady for my next birthday.

I'm still fascinated by action figures, but since becoming a functioning adult I haven't had the money to do much more than look. But now I have a job so maybe that will change. Hmm.

PS By way of introduction I should point out that I am a chick, so the comics I read tend to be chick comics. Thank yooou.

PPS I read somewhere last week that rats are less likely to develop alzheimer's if they have lots of bright colored toys throughout their lifetime. I don't want alzheimer's.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Four-Color Funnies

Man, I can't wait until ALL-STARS.

I visited my local comic shop today, the ever-wonderful Chicago Comics. Sometimes I go just to see what's new, sometimes I go to buy what I know I'll enjoy (the new issues of STRAY BULLETS and MEATCAKE this week, for example), sometimes I go to see what there is to see. Once in the store today, face to face with four-colored glory, I had the urge to partake in some serialized superheroics.

I looked around. The first issue of KLARION was out, the next chapter in Grant Morrison's ambitious SEVEN SOLDIERS OF VICTORY project that is revamping seven D-list DC characters. I really like Grant's work, especially lately. NEWXMEN was hit and miss for me, but We3 and VINAMARAMA have been fantastic, genre-defying work--I think We3 is the most visually stimulating book I've seen in--well, maybe ever. And four #1 issues later, SEVEN SOLDIERS has proven to be very interesting stuff. KLARION is probably my favorite of the bunch so far, largely because of the Grundies. In Limbo Town, where Klarion the Witch-Boy lives, the bodies of one's deceased family members are awoken and enslaved to be put to work. The living have blue skin and black hair, while Grundies are white-skinned, white-haired mumblers--a reinvention of Solomon Grundy, born on a Monday, which some of you folks might remember from the SuperFriends. But as much as I enjoyed this book, even at the shop I knew it wasn't going to satisfy the Fun Comics Craving I had in my guts.

I realized that what I wanted was to pick up a random book and read some superheroic adventures without having to wonder what the heck was going on with my favorite characters. DC's upcoming ALL-STARS line seems like it will fit that nitch. I'll be able to pick up a 20-odd page comic book featuring Superman or Batman and Robin and read an entire adventure, then go about my business. And with Grant Morrison and Frank Miller writing them, and Frank Quitely and Jim Lee drawing them (respectively, of course), I'm assured that they'll be top-quality books crafted with love of comics of yore, but with a modern sensibility built in. And at least in Grant's case with Superman, they'll be adventurously weird.

I thought about picking up ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN for a quick fix of Spidey action, since Hobgoblin was on the cover and all. But with Bendis still writing, I'm a little afraid that USM is still being written for the trades. I'm just as liable to see twenty pages of security guards talking about Spider-Man as I am to see Spider-Man himself. And if nothing else, I know I'd only be getting one section of a six-part story. With the ALL-STAR books, I'm guaranteed a complete story.

Man . . . I can't wait until ALL-STARS.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

As for the design....

Well Matthew of course, paints this site with great words, I need to make this site look like every other capsulated wreck of a blog out there, and believe me I'm hardly qualified. So when you come back to the site, and think your going through some sort Donnie Darko weirdness as its changes every day, it's us messing around, trying to find a template we can use and love.
So if you'll excuse me....

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Excitement, halfway through

I heard Terry Gross interviewing Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez on Fresh Air the other day. Terry was asking about the extremes of violence in the books and in the movie, throwing stars that could chop a man's arm off--saying she was glad such things didn't exist in real life. Frank said he didn't believe in holding anything back in fiction, that he wanted a distinct difference between FICTION and REAL LIFE.

I like that idea, of telling stories where you throw everything you can think of into something. Of writing something like it's the best story you'll ever write, so you might as well include as much as you can in it. Why stretch out for six issues what you can tell in one? It's one of the reasons I have such high hopes for the Morrison/Quitely ALL-STAR SUPERMAN. Grant has said in a few interviews that Superman's origin takes up about a quarter of page one, and the rest of the first issue is kick-splode Superman action. When I've written stories lately I knew I was on the ball when I wasn't holding anything back--I was making time jumps, I was fitting in as much STUFF as I could. Maybe a little more than should be there shows up sometimes, but that's fine--it's easier to trim something down than fill it up when there's not enough there.

It's one of the things that I enjoy and am most frustrated by when it comes to DC's COUNTDOWN TO INFINITE CRISIS. On the one hand--and if you don't want it spoiled for you, you might as well stop reading now--killing Blue Beetle was awesome. Huzzah to DC for shaking things up! It didn't strike me as a shock for shock's sake kind of move, and if they've upset/startled as many fans as they seem to, then good for them. If you're not upsetting people with a story, then it's too tame.

Then again . . . I just read 80 pages worth of comic book, and all I get is one thing? Because that's basically what happened. 80 pages of comics, teasers for four upcoming mini-series, and Blue Beetle shot in the head. Granted, they probably felt they needed to build up the characters of Blue Beetle and Booster Gold after leaving them out of the limelight for so long, and it IS titled the COUNTDOWN to the Infinite Crisis, and not the Crisis itself . . . but still. If you only need one-fourth of a page to blow up Krypton, you don't need 80 pages to kill off Blue Beetle.

I guess I'm bitching about not having enough kick-splode-changes in one issue, which isn't what I want SEQUENTIAL HEART to be about--I want to celebrate comics, not complain about them like this was an internet message board. And sure, serialized superhero fiction is always going to move sloooowly--be here next month to see if our hero survives!--so all in all, COUNTDOWN is a good first step. I suppose my point is that I want it harder, faster, now--throwing stars that cut off a man's arm, planets exploding on page one, holycraphowaretheygoingtotopTHIS--and there still 20 pages to go!

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

I want to love Comics

I want to love Comics. I do. I mean, we go so great together.
I mean.
I like-like comics, you know?
I French kiss Comics all the time, and I give great back rubs (I'm like the king at back rubs)
Some times it's hard though.
Sometimes Comics don't listen. Sometimes, I swear, it's as if Comics are ignoring me. And I just sit there and take it.
Finally, when Comics does that thing with its mouth while eating, I freak out.
I tell comics how I feel. We start talk but it becomes a screaming match.
Next thing you know, I’m crying and Comics is in the next room fuming at me.
I walk out of the room, with my things in hand, and just stare at Comics.
"Ok, I'm going to go"
Comics just stares into space.
Walking out, I hold back the tears expecting to hear Comics running down the street to hug me. No. It doesn’t happen. On the bus, I cry about Comics.
It's not until the next day, that I love comics again. I sit up looking for Comics in bed, and Comics is not there.
I choke up.
Then I hear a knock.
There's Comics, arms out open, looking at me, as if pleading to take Comics back.
And I do.
You know, it's hard. And what people say about Comics and me.
But in the end.
I want to love Comics.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Introductions May Be Necessary

I remember Blue Devil. I remember Sasquatch Vs. Sasquatch, Green Lantern hurtling to his death, covered in some kind of yellow goo, and Peter Parker being torn apart by his black costume and his traditional red-and-blues. I remember 1984, 1985, 1986, and being excited about trips to Waldenbooks in the mall, or to IGA in Owensville, digging past copies of Cracked to find a comic book I hadn't bought the week before.

I remember the Invisibles and wondering what the hell was going on. I remember Death, with her top hat and big black boots. I remember Madman with bright colors and laser guns and girlfriends. I remember realizing that comics could still be fun and smart and exciting, and getting the stink-eye from Don Parker when I brought friends into his comics shop in Milford, Ohio.

I remember We3 and American Elf and Billy Dogma. I remember From Hell and 1602 and Countdown to Infinite Crisis and Blankets and La Perdida. Comics have made me look forward to Wednesday ever since I found out they existed, and talking about comics gives me goosebumps on my arms and stars in my eyeballs and ideas in my head.

Last week, via his Bad Signal mailing list, Warren Ellis wondered aloud about what would happen if the online comics discussion were elevated above the negativity that permeates comic book message boards. He suggested a groupblog where the brightest superhero writers could have a dialogue about comics, could present ideas to their audience, could open the floodgates of ideas and conversation. It struck me as being a good idea, whether you're a popular comics writer or not. I mentioned it to some friends of mine, and they agreed. Juan suggested the title SEQUENTIAL HEART, and even though it happens to rhyme with the fine folks at Sequential Tart, it was too good to pass up.

I wanted to start a place where folks who loved comics could talk about comics. We'll be posting essays, musings, reviews, arguing back and forth and talking about the things we like more than the things we don't. Feel free to join in and comment, or just check in from time to time to read what we're up to. Sequential Heart--we're pumpin' good comics!