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!